From the best-selling author of The Circle, the true story of a young Yemeni-American man, raised in San Francisco, who dreams of resurrecting the ancient art of Yemeni coffee but finds himself trapped in Sana’a by civil war, and his riveting tale of escape.
Mokhtar Alkhanshali grew up in San Francisco, one of seven siblings raised by Yemeni immigrants in a tiny apartment. At age 24, unable to pay for college, he works as a doorman. Until: a statue of an Arab raising a cup of coffee awakens something in him. He sets out to learn the rich history of coffee in Yemen and the complex art of tasting and identifying varietals. He travels to Yemen, collects samples of beans, eager to bring improved cultivation methods to the farmers. And he is on the verge of success when civil war engulfs Yemen in 2015 and he is trapped in Sana’a.
Desperate to escape, he embarks on a passage that has him twice kidnapped at gunpoint, dodging US-made bombs dropped by the Saudi air force, and crossing the Red Sea onboard an unsafe skiff, all the while carrying two suitcases of coffee. A heart-pounding true story that weaves together the history of coffee, the ongoing Yemeni civil war, and the courageous journey of a young man – a Muslim and a US citizen – following the most American of dreams.