What is arabica coffee?
Arabica is the most popular and favorable coffee varieties among different kinds around the world. Coffee drinkers love it because it has beautiful aroma and less amount of caffeine. Meanwhile, arabica is not too much popular in Vietnam. While the country has 93% of total area for growing Robusta, arabica’s just accounts for 5%. However, Vietnam is planning to boost its production upto 200,000 tons in the next decades.
Even though Vietnam is famous for growing robusta; actually, the first coffee tree that the French brought to the country 155 years ago is Arabica. However, the natural climate and geologic conditions of Vietnam is not ideal for this coffee. That’s why it was really difficult to cultivate this coffee widely across the country. As a result, Robusta coffee and Catimor – a variety combined of Caturra and Timor were replaced and brought great productivity.
The current situation for this coffee
In 2012, Arabica coffee just had a moderate area of cultivating: 27,500 hectare, equivalent to 5% of the total area for growing coffee in the whole country. The reason is the altitude for growing coffee in Vietnam is between 600-1000 meters, which is not suitable for planting this mountain coffee (the ideal altitude is over 1500 meters). Besides, this coffee is easily to get affected by insects. And moreover, the methods to process this coffee are quite complicated and require a lot of serious techniques and innovative equipment. That’s why Vietnamese farmers cannot affordable to invest in the coffee.
However, recognizing the economic value of Arabica (as it gets higher price than Robusta) as well as its dominance on the international market, Vietnamese government and Vietnamese coffee producers has invested efforts and money to develop the productivity and cultivating area of this coffee variety. They determined the objective and subjective disadvantages in this coffee. And they improved by locating the lands having the ideal conditions for it (high altitude, low temperature (from 5 to 30°C), high level of moisture and rich soil). These lands are situated on mountainous areas in the North and Central region, some place in Lam Dong Province in Central Highland (Cau Dat, etc.). They also invested in the latest technology and equipment for coffee harvesting and processing.
And a promising future awaits…
As a result, Vietnamese Arabica coffee has risen in productivity when the 2013 crop produced 57,000 tons, increasing 12% from the last year. In 2014, the total area of cultivating this kind of coffee is up to 45,000 hectares. Vietnam will continue to enhance the production of this coffee, while still focus on their main coffee robusta.
Although Vietnam Arabica still accounts for a small amount in the market, it is gradually being change in positive way. Vietnamese government and farmers need to constantly improve the quality of coffee and update the market’s information as well as coffee technology to enhance both Arabica and Robusta coffee.