When you think of where coffee beans are from, countries such as Brazil, Colombia and even Vietnam might spring to mind. But what if we were to tell you that Myanmar is beginning to make a splash in the global coffee bean trade?
Coffee beans were introduced to Myanmar as far back as 1885, but it was not until the 1930s that they were grown in Shan State, which is where most of Myanmar’s coffee beans come from today.
Demand for coffee worldwide is increasing year on year, and Myanmar is beginning to stake its claim in speciality coffee. In 2016 the US in fact imported two shipments of coffee to be sold at Whole Foods no less. This, remarkably, was the first commercial scale import between the two countries in over 15 years.
Interestingly coffee consumption in Myanmar is still relatively low. The majority of the population instead opt for tea or a three-in-one coffee sachet (a combination of powdered milk, sugar and instant coffee). When visiting Myanmar, you’ll soon realise that both are absolute staples in everyday life.
Where is Coffee in Myanmar Grown?
The cherries that make coffee beans are predominantly grown in Shan State with farms predominantly being located around the towns of Pyin Oo Lwin and Kalaw. Here you’ll find some of the countries larger farms and coffee brands including Sithar Coffee, Genius Coffee and Green Land.
The land here has an elevation of 1,100 – 1,200 metres above sea level, which is ideal for growing Arabica bean varieties. On top of this the weather in Shan State is noticeably cooler and less humid then in Yangon or even Bagan.
Without much machinery, all of the cherries are hand picked and then sun-dried on raised beds during the months of December and January.
Can I Visit these Farms?
For all those coffee lovers out there, it’s now possible to arrange a tour of some of Myanmar’s most well known coffee farms. In particular Sithar Coffee Estate offer a unique experience around their grounds that is truly memorable.
The farm, which was established in 1996, has around 48 hectares, and is aiming at increasing the income of farmers and also raising the quality of Myanmar coffee to the international stage. This tour showcases how the coffee is grown and then harvested, and also lets you sample some of this beautiful coffee at the end. Quite the treat.
Myanmar is still a newcomer when it comes to coffee, but don’t be surprised if you see many more bags labelled “grown in Myanmar” in the future.
Be one of the first to try the coffee first hand and come and take part in a memorable coffee plantation experience with Thahara today.