Coffee production has been a major source of income for Việt Nam since the early 20th century. First introduced by the French in 1857, the Vietnamese coffee industry developed through the plantation system, becoming a major economic force in the country. Việt Nam is now the 2nd largest exporter of coffee in the world(2nd only to Brazil).
Who We Support
We work with Vietnamese coffee communities mainly comprised of the H’mong, K’Ho, Van Kieu, and Bru tribes.
Where In Vietnam
In the highlands area of Southern, Central, and North Vietnam (above 1200m.a.s.l.).
The communities we work with have had little experience with sustainable agriculture methods with regards to their coffee cultivation. As time goes on, their land becomes more and more degraded. Soil, the most important asset for families who earn roughly $250 per year, are quickly losing their most precious assets. Our work in Vietnam is currently focused on sharing, teaching, building low-cost, sustainable agriculture technology and methods to ensure long-term sustainability
What We Are Doing To Help
- Identified some of the last remaining “old world” varieties of Arabica coffee in Vietnam. These coffees have existed within Vietnam since the late 1850’s.
- Helped the farmers to understand the economic and taste differences in coffee varieties
- Established the first specialty coffee supply chain:
-Supported local coffee companies to ethically source specialty coffee from Vietnam
-Conducted numerous specialty-coffee-of-Vietnam coffee cupping/training sessions
-Trained baristas and coffee roasters in “third-wave” coffee methodology
- Assisted in coffee negotiations with farming communities which increased income from 48-220% more than they have ever received.
- Completely eliminated loan-shark/illegal loan debt for numerous families through our gift-exchange program
- Established organic coffee production methods within 3 distinct communities
- Introduced clean cook stoves for numerous families suffering chronic illness due to smoke inhalation from traditional charcoal/wood burning.
- Designed, manufactured, and distributed low-cost coffee roasters, coffee seed drying, home-heating systems in order to improve income as well as livelihood in cold regions (gasifier roaster/heat exchanger/etc.). All at cost w/ no profit.
- Completed the gift-exchange program for the one ethnic-minority tribe in cooperation with one U.S.-based company with offices in Vietnam.
-We raised $25,000 for the community powered by their own coffee
-This donation allowed for the families to break out of debt-slavery, obtain ownership of their coffee crop, construct a community-scale coffee processing center, establish community-level organic composting and animal feed production facilities, put all children into school, provided healthcare for the community members, clean water access for those without, and the dignity to own their own hard work.
- Coordinated the 1st specialty coffee shipment from Vietnam to US in 2013
- Received approval by the Vietnamese Government for the first UN-supported Sustainable Coffee Research, Production, and Training facility.
- Initiated the 1st Global Gift-Exchange program in the United States (Carbondale, CO) for the K’Ho Cil tribal community. All donations for this program go towards:
– Bring more than 35 families COMPLETELY out of debt-slavery
– Establish the FIRST, legally recognized indigenous, ethnic minority cooperative in Vietnam
– Provide education access for more than 120 children
– Provide REAL healthcare for more than 500 individuals
– Establish a community-owned animal raising facility (chicken, pigs, and dairy cows)
– Convert more than 100 acres of Earth into all-organic, biodiverse sanctuaries
– Provide enough food for more than 500 people
– Provide access to clean drinking water for 50 families currently without
We are currently teaching how to diversify income through waste transformation. We teach how coffee residues, ground cover, shade trees, and biodiversity can improve household income drastically. As an example, one community was taught and is now practicing raising pigs in a no-smell, humane, deep-litter system with fermented coffee pulp from coffee processing, ground cover crops, and fermented fish scraps from the local market. This adds in the effect of providing “free compost” for their coffee while also increasing their income by more than 600%.
Additionally, there is an issue of malaria. We have shown how plants grown locally (i.e. neem) can be used as a safe, organic, and effective repellent amongst other things. There have been fewer communities suffering from insect-borne illness as a result and all done so with no added cost to the families.
About Their Coffee
The coffee that is most often grown is Catimor. However, the communities we work with happen to have some of the original (from the French plantings in 1850s) and last remaining pure-Arabicas which still exist in Vietnam. There coffee is grown at altitudes about 1300 m.a.s.l. and have begun to pick 100% ripe cherry. This coffee has a very prominent sweetness which reminds you of sugar cane juice or brown sugar that is not found in other regions. Their coffee has a nice balanced body to suit the sweetness. Their coffee has just a hint of Ethiopian influence in the cup, so you tend to find some jammy fruits, sweet floral notes, and a mild grape/apple acidity. This coffee represents less than 0.1% of the 3% of “Arabica” grown in Vietnam. It is the most rare coffee of Vietnam, and one that is almost forgotten. By helping these struggling communities, you save them and the heritage of Vietnam’s true specialty-coffee.