Mocha is famous for being the major marketplace for coffee (Coffea arabica) from the 15th century until the early 18th century. Even after other sources of coffee were found, Mocha beans (also called Sanani or Mocha Sanani beans, meaning from Sana'a) continued to be prized for their distinctive flavor—and remain so even today. The coffee itself did not grow in Mocha, but was transported from places inland to the port in Mocha, where it was shipped abroad.
European factories at Mocha in the late 17th century
According to the Portuguese Jesuit missionary Jerónimo Lobo, who sailed the Red Sea in 1625, Mocha was "formerly of limited reputation and trade" but since "the Turkish assumption of power throughout Arabia, it has become the major city of the territory under Turkish domination, even though it is not the Pasha's place of residence, which is two days' journey inland in the city of Sana'a." Lobo adds that its importance as a port was also due to the Ottoman law that required all ships entering the Red Sea to put in at Mocha and pay duty on their cargoes.