ALMOKA Coffee House is slated to fill a former Jimmy John’s at 753 Highgrove Place in Rockford. Owner Hussain Abdulhafedh hopes to open by fall. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)
By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — A new business centered around gourmet Yemeni coffee and pastries is coming to the city this fall.

Local entrepreneur Hussain Abdulhafedh, who was born in Rockford to Yemeni parents, is preparing to open ALMOKA Coffee House at 753 Highgrove Place. He finalized a lease with First Midwest Group this week and is remodeling the former Jimmy John’s space off Perryville Road for his new business.

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The 35-year-old businessman, who is known to friends by a shortened version of his name Hussain Abdul, was inspired by seeing Yemeni coffee businesses such as Qahwah House, Qamaria Yemeni Coffee Co. and Haraz Coffee House catch on in Michigan and other parts of the country.

He wants Rockford to experience Yemeni drinks and desserts, too.

“This is the first of its kind in the community,” he said. “I feel like this is an opportunity for me to bring something to market first in my community before anybody else steps foot in my neighborhood.”

Abdul was raised in Belvidere, where lives now with his wife, Rasha, and their three children ages 6, 4 and 2. The 2006 Belvidere High School graduate was working as a team leader at Stellantis before being laid off when the Belvidere Assembly Plant was idled last year. He has worked for the company for about 16 years, and decided to launch a new business while waiting for the plant to reopen.

“I didn’t want to sit by and do nothing. I looked at it as an opportunity,” said Abdul, who also runs GreenCity Lawn Maintenance. “I told myself that I wanted to take advantage of this time given to me to open another a business.”

ALMOKA Coffee House
This rendering shows the vision for ALMOKA Coffee House, 753 Highgrove Place, after renovations are complete this fall. (Image provided by Hussain Abdulhafedh)

The name ALMOKA is derived from Mocha, Yemen. The mocha coffee bean is originally from Yemen, and it’s harvested from the coffea arabica plant species that is native to the country.

All of the single origin organic coffee that will be served here is grown by Yemeni coffee farmers, Abdul said. The coffee plants there are grown on terraces thousands of meters above sea level.

“If you look at some of the communities that are growing coffee in Yemen, you’ll see that their coffee plants are above the clouds,” he said. “Literally, this coffee is grown above clouds. That climate is the best climate for coffee.”

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Abdul has been roasting Yemen coffee beans and testing recipes from his home while he prepares for opening. He’s only been doing the work for a short time, but he said he’s been consumed with educating himself on the art of coffee making.

“If you came to my house right now and I made you a drink you would think I’ve been doing this forever,” he said. “I’m just so passionate and determined to educate myself in anything new I want to do.”

The shop will also serve a variety of pastries and desserts, and Abdul wants to serve a Yemeni breakfast with some of his own creations. For example, he said he’s been tinkering with a shakshuka souffle for the breakfast menu. Shakshuka is a classic Middle Eastern breakfast dish featuring poached eggs, peppers, tomatoes, onion and a variety of spices.

Abdul said he also wants to have some late-night hours where people can gather to hang out with a cup of coffee or tea.

“I want to create a cultural hub where people of all ethnicities, nationalities can feel comfortable,” he said. “Where they can have fun and meet new people.”


This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at khaas@rockrivercurrent.com or follow him on X at @KevinMHaas or Instagram @thekevinhaas and Threads @thekevinhaas

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