Two tribal hands with coffee beans
Coffee beans in Lahu Hands

Coffee in North Thailand

Thailand is one of the top coffee producers in the world as of 2014. The country is ranked third among producing countries of Asia with Robusta accounting for 99% of its production. Robusta (Coffea canephora) is the chief crop grown in the country which provides a substantial economic return. Arabica is grown in northern Thailand.

Coffee production

Production in the southern part of the country is 80,000 tons of Robusta. The north produces only about 500 tons only arabica. Twenty thousand tons of robusta coffee is for domestic consumption, in the form of dissolvable, roasted, powdered and tinned coffee. Organic coffee is considered suitable for cultivation in the mountains with an elevation range of 800 meters to 1,200 meters. It is grown both in shaded areas and in open areas in full sun.

The royal family of Thailand promoted the cultivation of coffee as a crop to replace opium. Arabica has been recommended as a tasty variety as its yield is profitable to all categories of farmers, including the hill tribes. Doi Tung is a popular brand but there are many small brands such as those from Mae Kampong and from villages on Doi Inthanon, such as Baan Mae Klang Luang.

Thailand is nowadays able to produce high-quality grades. In 2015 two types of coffee (Doi Tung and Doi Chaang) received a geographically protected trademark of the EU. This is comparable to Champagne, Parma ham or wine from Bordeaux.

Thirty years ago you could only buy instant in Thailand.