A slick new cafe acting as a shop window to the complexity of Yemeni coffees and their production has opened in the heart of central London. Qima Cafe, run by specialty coffee exporter and green (unroasted, or, raw) coffee buyer Qima Coffee, is now open at 21 Warren Street, opposite much-loved deli Honey and Spice.
Established as a specialist in Yemen, the ongoing civil war in the country has led to diversification in order to ameliorate risk for farmers, clients, and of course the business itself, including a move into Colombian export and this new cafe. While the usual espressos, flat whites, and pour overs — the latter most often showcasing single origin Yemeni coffees in order to highlight the differences in taste imparted by farming or processing after harvest — it’s elsewhere that Qima really shines.
While specialty coffee shops necessarily rely on producing countries for coffee beans, it is rare — in London — that they in turn showcase and contextualise how coffee is prepared and drunk in those countries. Redressing this balance is one of the key tenets of Qima, which offers a fragrant qimr latte, based on a Yemeni preparation made with cascara, the dried fruit of the coffee cherry, and heady with ginger and cinnamon. It also serves a cascara fizz, as well as coffee brewed on an ibrik, a method now synonymous with Turkish coffee that originated in Yemen. All three are superbly made, and the space, with stylish, comfortable chairs, tons of natural light, and soft terracotta interiors, is a welcoming one.
Given the most recent high profile serving of Yemeni coffee in London resulted in handwringing outrage about accurately priced beans, Qima’s arrival in the city is a refreshing reminder of how multifaceted specialty coffee — too often flat in its horizons — can be.