Gifted with highly nutritious soil and a wealth of natural resources, the Thai people are passionately proud of their country, with ‘love your own homeland’ being a frequently repeated saying among its citizens.
The very first coffee trees were brought to Thailand in the early 19th century, being planted in the gardens of the Grand Palace. In 1969, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej launched the Royal Projects initiative, during which Thailand imported high-quality seeds from around the world to stimulate local production of flowers, fruits, nuts and, of course, coffee. Trainings were also implemented to teach farmers the importance of sustainable production, while opium poppy cultivation was outlawed, significantly reducing the damage caused by destructive slash-and-burn agricultural techniques. The Royal Projects were successful in fighting the illicit drug trade while also helping lift the local population out of poverty by creating environmentally friendly economic conditions.
One of the successes of the initiative was widespread of arabica trees across the mountainous areas in northern Thailand. A new generation of farmers is utilising land that has been passed down in their families to improve the quality of the coffee beans they grow.
This has had knock-on effects by promoting the development of the region’s unique coffee culture.
Brew-da imports arabica beans from the mountain village of Pangkhon in Thailand’s northernmost province of Chiang Rai. Sharing a border with Myanmar and Laos, Chiang Rai is located in the Golden Triangle and is full of magnificent mountains and dense forests, which provide the province with access to a wealth of natural resources.
Take a two-hour car drive from the city of Chiang Rai and you will arrive at Pangkhon Mountain, home to the village of Pangkhon, where members of the indigenous Akha hill tribe, who have their roots in Western China, reside.
The village chief has worked vigorously to promote the role of coffee in the local economy. The villagers have been taught how to plant and processing Arabica beans, while also seeking out valuable opportunities for trade with the outside world, all of which has helped to substantially raise their income and improve living standards. Coffee fields are nowhere to be found in Pangkhon, with shrubs instead having been planted along the sides of roads and in the yards of villagers’ homes.
The coffee trees growing in Pangkhon are of the heirloom arabica variety producing beans that possess a delectably sweet flavour.