A Mountain Tribe & Your Coffee Cup: Doi Chaang
Tucked away in the hills of north Thailand are the mysterious solitary Akha hill tribe farmers of Doi Chang village, blessed with fertile soil, lush mountain climate, and fresh springs. Every year, they replant 100,000 trees to reforest the region and shade their coffee plants. They have running water, electricity, sewage systems, a clinic, maintain strong cultural traditions, no official written language, and do not accept grants or donations from anyone.
It’s hard to believe their thriving community was once the impoverished center of opium production in Thailand— a trade that requires slash-and-burn agriculture, and destroys soil, forest, economies and societies in its wake. Royal intervention arrived in 1983 when the Thai King gifted the Akha tribe with high quality coffee plants & the idea of viable agriculture.
This went so well that years later, the Akha found themselves inundated with coffee traders offering bad prices for their hard work, & a frustrating surplus of coffee going nowhere.
Exporting their beans at a fair price was so important to sustain them that the village decided they’d go global on their own.
Tribe leader Piko Saedoo and village mentor Wicha Promyong tasked Canadian businessman, John Darch, with creating a marketing strategy that benefits farmers while profiting investors at the same time. Instead of approaching it as a charity, Darch saw “a viable alternative to established capitalism.”He proceeded to use his own money to set up Doi Chaang Coffee Company in Canada.
It’s a unique business arrangement: Doi Chang farmers retain total ownership of growing and processing operations. The Canadian Company pays them beyond Fair Trade prices for their beans, and takes care of market developmentfunding to keep the farmers away from financial risk. The village farmers keep 100% of sale proceeds, and also hold a 50% share in Canadian Company. The business model has stirred interest of international media, became the subject of a documentary, and won them awards for sustainable development.
As for the product? Doi Chaang Coffee is the only Thai, single-origin, USDA Certified Organic, Fair-Trade Certified, shade grown, premium 100% arabica coffee in the world, rated top 1% worldwide. It is available in over 400 stores, 200 coffee shops, and just recently opened here in Jaya One. It sustains the 8,000 villagers of Doi Chang, who are not only survivors, but now active role models for other Akha villages too.
Taste the difference of Doi Chaang Coffee:
Venue: Unit E, No.49, LG2 Block D, Retail Lab Project, Jaya One