Tasting Notes: Sugary Sweetness, Dark Chocolate, Baking Spices
Producer: Som Poi Village Producers (30 families)
Varieties: Caturra, Catuai, Catimor
Story: Thailand is not typically a country most people think of when they think of coffee, yet it is uniquely situated along the equator along with more well known coffee regions to produce excellent coffee in its northern highlands, often referred to as “Muang Nua” in Thailand, which means “Northern City”. In the 1960’s Thailand was a major global producer of opium grown in the northern highland villages for narcotics. In 1961 Richard Mann began distributing coffee seeds throughout many of these rural villages to replace opium. This work eventually led a United Nations project to eradicate Opium in Thailand and became a powerful movement to change the course of a destructive and oppressive industry toward the empowering and constructive and opportunity of coffee.
Still, practically all of Thailand’s coffee is consumed within Thailand falling short of its potential both in quality and in value. The conventional coffee market itself is arguably oppressive in its pricing structure in need of transformation from commodity to specialty. Additionally these villages are primarily populated by stateless and vulnerable tribal groups such as the Akha and Karen all too often subjected to exploitation and even human trafficking. With this challenge and opportunity before us, St. Clare is working in collaboration with Not for Sale, the Mann family’s International Tribal Development Program as well as a local Thai specialty coffee roaster, Akha Ama, an inspirational business from humble beginnings in a highland Akha village, Maejantai. We are striving to improve Thai coffee quality with better specialty coffee practices and transition to specialty coffee and the representation of a unique origin character of the Muang Nua and Thailand. All toward the end of empowering people toward quality coffee and living.
This particular lot of coffee was produced by a group of 30 small producer families located in the Som Poi Village of the Chiang Mai Province at 1200 meters where they are growing Caturra, Catuai, and Catimor. The average farm is 1-2 acres and producers bring their hand picked cherries to a local cooperative washing station where it is depulped by a hand mill and set out to dry directly in the sun on raised beds for a highly controlled honey process. This adds body and sweetness to the cup while still retaining the characteristic spice of Thai coffee.