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The Monk of Mokha

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  14,770 ratings  ·  1,752 reviews
The Monk of Mokha is the exhilarating 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.

Mokhtar Alkhanshali is twenty-four and working as a doorman when he discovers the astonishing history of coffee and Yemen’s central place in it. He leaves San
Kindle Edition, 353 pages
Published January 30th 2018 by Knopf (first published January 25th 2018)
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 ·  14,770 ratings  ·  1,752 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
By the end of “The Monk of Mokha”, without a sip of coffee or ( tea for me), in me, I felt the stimulant of Dave Eggers non fiction book raising my energy.

This is one heck of an amazing rags to riches story....
From DOORMAN CEO COFFEEMAN....our uplifting boost of energy comes from a guy name Mokhtar Alkhanshali......Yemeni-American.

Mokhtar grew up dirt San Francisco’s most impoverished districts: The Tenderloin District ( our older daughter once played the leading role
da AL
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
True account of Yemen-American. When he learns that coffee originated in Yemen, he employs passion, courage, creativity, & humanitarianism to make Yemen coffee the world's best. All that amid daunting poverty, war & politics. Pulitzer prize author. Audio narrator passable, but not a quite right fit & mispronounced eide. Story was engaging all the same. ...more
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A man with a passion will never be denied.

Dave Eggers`s The Monk of Mokha is a well-written and incredible true story of a Yemeni-American Mokhtar Alkhanshali. This book also covers the history, origins and making of coffee in a detailed way.

From being a doorman at a luxury apartment block in San Francisco to owning an apartment in the same building and from having dropped out of college and not knowing anything about coffee to being a remarkbly successful businessman and a successful grower, r
Jun 04, 2018 rated it liked it
The rags to riches story of a coffee importer, it's more interesting than that sounds. Details are suspiciously sparse toward the end, but I like a happy ending. Waffling between three and four stars. ...more
There is a lesson in this one...or two. Don't let anyone tell you can't do something. And once you set your mind to something, you can do anything. Well, in this case, said person was almost killed....multiple times. But he DID IT! He did what he set out to do which seemed like an impossibility.

OK, this tells the story of Mokhtar Alkhanshali. A young Yemeni growing up in San Francisco, just running around, being a punk, not caring about much of anything. But he begins to see the way (after being
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
This book made me appreciate coffee more. This is the kind of book that keeps you on the edge of the seat while rooting for the main guy to get over the obstacles and attain the goals they need to get.

Mokhtar Alkhanshali was born and raised in California. His parents are from Yemen. He discovers while working as a door attendant in a large residential building that Yemen was a major exporter of coffee beans for centuries and had a monopoly over coffee trade through the port of Mokha.

He wants t
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In a world filled with misery and pain, it's refreshing to read a well written, non-fiction story of a member of our race who overcomes all shades of adversity to succeed when every deck is stacked against him. Like his excellent Zeitoun, Eggers writes in an easily accessible narrative style that draws the reader into every facet of the story - whether it's the personal history of the protagonist or an encompassing background on the world of coffee, the prose is mesmerizing. I ended up playing h ...more
Anne (On semi-hiatus)
This was an interesting rags-to-riches story about a young Yemeni-American man growing up in San Francisco. He struggles trying to find his calling until he hits on importing coffee beans from his homeland to America. I enjoyed much of Mokhtar's Alkhanshali's story. Unfortunately, the narrative often left Mokhtar behind while going off on many digressions. For instance, Dave Eggers went into the minutiae of the coffee business which can be very interesting, but as told by Eggers it was mostly ra ...more
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.
Mark Twain

This is one of those nonfiction books that seems so unbelievable that if it were fiction, you’d think the author should have tried for something more realistic. But had the subject of this biographical novel, Moktar Alkhanshali, stuck to what was considered possible, he wouldn’t have achieved all that he has, and at such a young age. Though maybe his youth and optimism, with a to
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Eggers was the reason why I picked up this book—someone at work handed me an ARC and I was like sure why not? I didn’t even realize it was non-fiction until after the first chapter

But holy cow, it was spectacular. It’s about a Yemeni-American who wants to bring high quality Yemen coffee back to the US and the rest of the world. I had no idea about the history of coffee and wouldn’t have thought I would find it so interesting, but Eggers writes the history portions with his famous storytelling to
Adriaan Jansen
''When Mokhtar made a mistake, Hamood was angry only if Mokhtar made an excuse. 'Own the error and correct it', he said. Hamood had a thousand proverbs and maxims. His favorite was 'Keep your money in your hand, never in your heart'. He used to say that a lot.
'What does it mean?' Mokhtar asked
'It means that money is ephemeral, moving from person to person', Hamood said. 'It's a tool. Don't let it get into your heart or your soul' ''. (page 28).

The Monk of Mokha tells the amazing adventure of Mok
Feb 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: bios-memoirs
It's hard to articulate my thoughts on this book better than Michael Lindgren already has in the Washington Post, but what the hell I'll give it a shot - I liked the book, I don't regret reading it, but I won't recommend it to others, because after having read Eggers' fiction and memoir, I'm frankly disappointed.

Monk of Mokha is the remarkably true story of Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a Yemeni-American Millennial who overcame some pretty harrowing odds to become a successful importer of specialty coffe
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I generally enjoy Dave Eggers' books and novels and The Monk of Mokha is no exception. He tells the story of young man and his improbable, sometimes harrowing journey to become a coffee entrepreneur. I love to drink coffee but until now had no idea about how it is grown, picked, sorted, roasted. Fascinating. And I appreciated learning more about Yemen. ...more
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, nonfiction, 2018
Conditions in Yemen were deteriorating. Virtually no goods were being shipped out of the country. Activity at the ports was concentrated on importing essentials. Medicine was scarce and the vast majority of the country was suffering from food insecurity. The UN considered Yemen on the brink of famine. No one was prioritizing the export of coffee to international specialty roasters.

The Monk of Mokha is a work of narrative nonfiction by noted storyteller Dave Eggers: Focussing on the compellin
Kasa Cotugno
I love the way Dave Eggers tells a larger story through a personal lens. As with Valentino Dent (What is the What) and Abdulrahman Zeitoun, he has taken the life of Mokhtar Alkhanshali and crafted it into a book so readable and yet so informative and true it becomes a real page turner. His books are proof of his extraordinary empathy, and this one is no exception. Mokhtar is a young man of Yemeni heritage, who grew up on the mean streets of San Francisco's Tenderloin, but his family was supporti ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
The children holding AK-47s — this was new. Mokhtar landed in Sana’a on October 27, 2014, and was confronted with the patchwork of overlapping military units, security forces and ragtag groups of Houthi or pseudo- Houthi rebels all over the airport and the roads to the capital.

In the non-fiction book Monk of Mokha, we follow the recent rags to riches story of a Yemeni American named Mokhtar Alkhanshali. Mokhtar grows up very poor in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. While in his twentie
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio-book
I read this book because it was written by Dave Eggers. I absolutely loved "Zeitoun". I liked "What Is The What" and "Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?"
was intriguing. So I was fairly sure I would like The Monk of Mokha. I was wrong. For the most part it read more like a tag line for a specialized kind of Yemeni coffee. The best thing I can say about this non-fiction book is that it served to enlighten me a bit about the people, geography, politics, wars and c
Jim Higgins
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrific story (nonfiction) of a young man who found his calling reviving coffee trade in Yemen. In addition to its strong literary and narrative qualities, it's an excellent business book! ...more
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Monk of Mokha is the true story of a young Yemeni American man named Mokhtar who became fascinated with coffee, especially its origin in Yemen. He wanted to elevated the quality of coffee there and bring it to the world, while also ensuring that the local coffee farmers are paid a more fair share for their hard work so that they can make a living wage. While Mokhtar was working to achieve this, Yemen was embroiled in a civil war, making his mission even harder and sometimes mortally perilous ...more
Judith E
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
3.75 stars.

A real life, modern adventure story that is ripe for movie making. Mokhtar Alkhanshani rediscovers the Yemen coffee producing history and globally brings Yemen coffee to recognition and production. His dangerous journey reveals the beautiful but tumultuous setting of Yemen that has been subjected to uprisings, revolutions, invasion, kidnappings and bombings all within recent history. Mokhtar is an inspiration and a role model of ingenuity and hard work leading to great success.

An ea
Jay Chi
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Endlessly fascinating and engrossing read. It tells a story of the difficulties and dedication it takes to be a successful entrepreneur; it offers advice and inspiration to college students (or any person really) who is unsure about where their passions lie and what career path to pursue (spoiler: it's okay to fail a few times); it tells the rich history of the humble coffee bean. I was expecting this book to be fiction, but was nonplussed to find it is actually nonfiction and essentially a biog ...more
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the best work by Dave Eggers that I’ve read to date. Really opened my eyes and makes me appreciate my multiple cups of coffee per day. I will never again complain about the price of my locally roasted fair-trade espresso beans.
The arc of this true story was more engrossing than many fictional ones I’ve read. I have so much respect for Mokhtar, his vision, dedication and « getting things done » abilities. Can’t wait to visit San Fran and taste some Blue Bottle Yemeni coffee!
I really need to write a review on how much I liked this book.

Suffice it to say I do love Egger's writing in this book and have decided Mokhtar Alkhanshali is my newest hero. He defied death and insurrectionists to bring Yemen coffee (the world's ORIGINAL coffee) to America and the world. After much effort and suffering, he finally did that and his first cups cost $16.00.

If you like coffee, you will like this book as it relates how coffee beans are harvested and made into coffee and what it tak
Liza Fireman
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I will start by saying: this book is very very different than The Circle. And, it is mostly a book for coffee lovers, because it has a fair share of talking about coffee in addition to a beautiful drive and entrepreneurship.

Mokhtar Alkhanshali's story is extremely interesting. At age twenty-four he works as a doorman, doesn't seem to be too passionate about anything much. And then, he finds the coffee. He is not an expert when he starts, not even a great enthusiastic, but he becomes one. And he
Jan 24, 2018 rated it liked it
NEXT time you slurp a cup of coffee, spare a thought for the humble bean that produced it. In Dave Eggers' latest socially conscious non-fiction book, a bean's journey involves being trapped in a city pounded by Saudi bombs and twice being taken captive by armed militia, and escaping a war-torn country by fibre boat to make it to a cup.

It's a detail in the story of Mokhtar Alkhanshali, an aimless twentysomething from San Francisco's Tenderloin district who decided almost on a whim to become a co
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I won a Goodreads giveaway to get the Monk of Mokha, so here's my review! It's a few weeks into 2018, and I predict this will be the best book I read this year. Before reading this book, I didn't know much about coffee, and I knew Yemen was located south of Saudi Arabia but knew little else about the country. Now I've traveled in reading to Yemen's coffee farms and cities, and know how the seeds of the coffee plant fruit become the drink so much of the world consumes. But it's Mokhtar who really ...more
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book! It very much reminded me of "Zeitoun" and "What Is the What", which I also enjoyed! This book is the story of Mokhtar, a Yemeni American man who wants to export coffee from Yemen to the U.S., specifically the Bay Area. It's a pretty amazing story, and the reader learns a lot about coffee along the way. And Yemen too! It also helped that I live in the Bay Area, so I really connected with the location and I've been to Blue Bottle! Now I want to try his coffee! W ...more
Ed Bernard
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Damn you, Dave Eggers. I got this book from the library after a modest wait – in the interim, I had read some so-so reviews that took the book to task for being less than careful with the facts and compared it unfavorably to Eggers’ riveting (to me, anyway) Zeitoun. So, I had decided not to read it. Then, two days before it was due, I read the first few pages just to see. Mistake – I was hooked and zipped through the rest. It’s the story of a Yemeni American who has an entrepreneurial vision to ...more
Laura Walsh
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was a perfect combination of two things that truly give me joy in this world - reading and drinking coffee! I will never look at a cuppa java in the same way again, (nor complain about the price!) now that I know so much more than I did just last week, about the journey coffee beans take to get to me for my daily 'simple pleasure' enjoyment.
David Eggers is such a gifted writer, and boy, did he do justice to the subject matter here. I am in awe of his dedication to research and detail,
Jill Wittkopp
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
I had the chance to see Dave & Mokhtar speak when the book was released. You could tell from their chemistry and mutual respect that the story was going to be well told. Not only is it an inspiring story about chasing the American Dream, it highlights integrity and mutual benefit (above exploitation) in that dream. This book also has an interesting perspective on the pricey specialty coffee sold in cities like San Francisco. I highly recommend the book, it was a great read and I’m glad that Dave ...more
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Dave Eggers is the author of ten books, including most recently Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, The Circle and A Hologram for the King, which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award. He is the founder of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing company based in San Francisco that produces books, a quarterly journal of new writing (McSweeney’s Quarterly ...more

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