Susan Shihab, co-owner of Arwa Yemeni Coffee in Richardson, opened the coffee shop, in part, to teach people about Yemen.

The backstory

Shihab co-owns the shop with her husband, Yazan Soofi, and sister-in-law, Nora Soofi, and each have ties to Yemen. Yazan and Nora Soofi were born in Yemen. Shihab was born and raised in Texas, but her parents are from Yemen.

“As a kid in Texas, people would always ask me what country Yemen is in,” Shihab said. “I was like, ‘It is a country, and it’s a really beautiful country.’”

Arwa Yemeni Coffee first opened in December 2022.

“We were lucky enough to be the first Yemeni coffee shop in the southern United States,” Shihab said. “So, we’re the first one in Texas.”

What’s special about it?

Coffee beans are shipped from Yemen and roasted in-house, Shihab said, with Yazan Soofi acting as the shop’s roaster. Shihab said Yazan Soofi grew up roasting coffee the Yemeni way, which uses a kettle to brew the coffee with spices, and took up using a roaster as a personal hobby but became a certified roaster when they opened the shop.

Ultimately, Shihab said they wanted to build a shop that would transport people to Yemen.

“It’s not a matter of ... just putting a picture of Yemen up,” Shihab said. “[We] make sure every element has some sort of tie [to Yemen].”

Additionally, many drinks include spices that are shipped to Arwa whole and ground for the drinks in-house to ensure they are fresh.

What’s on the menu?

Many drinks at Arwa are made in the traditions of Yemen, Shihab said, adding that most drinks are named after cities there.

Rather than making coffee drinks using an espresso machine, the drinks are made in a kettle on a stove top, which allows spices, water, sugar and tea or coffee to meld their flavors together.

One of the most popular drinks is the Adeni tea, a milk-based tea featuring cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. Another popular drink is the Yemeni latte, which is a twist on a classic latte featuring a house-made spice blend.

The menu also includes traditional Yemeni baked goods like honeycomb bread, a bread stuffed with honeycomb and served with warm syrup. It also includes classic coffee shop pastries such as croissants.