Vietnam cafe and the country’s coffee milestones

Vietnam cafe used to start very small…

Vietnam is the second largest coffee producer and exporter around the world. During 30 years since Vietnam cultivated coffee trees as an agricultural commodity, the market share of coffee in the country increased from 0.1% to 20%. The story of Vietnam cafe surprised the world when no one believed that Vietnam can be a giant of coffee production just after a quite short time.

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From the early days of Vietnam cafe

Coffee was first brought to Vietnam in 17th century by European missionaries. They planted a small number of coffee seed for their personal need. And just when the French colonist brought coffee into cultivation on Vietnam’s farms in 1857, coffee was officially grown in Vietnam. The coffee planted in Vietnam was taken from Martinique Island and Guyana in South America with the similar climate and soil condition to Vietnam. At first, coffee was piloted in the North region, then grown in the Central region (Quang Tri Province, Quang Binh Province, etc.). These coffees were harvested and processed with the brand “Arabica du Tonkin”.

And slowly expanding …

Since 1925, after a lot of investigations and researches about natural environment, climate and soil condition as well as carefully considering about social context, the French decided to bring coffee to Central Highlands, focusing on Langbiang Plateau and Dak Lak Province. They established a lot of coffee plantations, managed by the French and forced local ethnic minority people to work for them. The Arabica coffee is suitable with Langbiang and the Robusta was well-developed in Dak Lak.

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To become a giant

After liberating from the domination of colonist countries, Vietnam still decided to develop coffee trees under the model of the French. After more than 80 years of cultivating and processing coffee, till 2001, Vietnam became the world’s second largest country of coffee production. Coffee was the key economic product of the country. Each year, Vietnam cafe is about 800,000 to 1 million tons of coffee, and among that, the country just consumes 10% of it and exports the rest.

Coffee is mostly cultivated in Buon Ma Thuot, Dak Lak, Lam Dong (Central Highlands); mountainous areas in Central parts, and Northern mountainous lands. Most of coffee is produced by seperate households with the average areas of 2 – 5 hectares per family.

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90% of Vietnam cafe trees are coffee Robusta. The reason is the country’s natural conditions is perfect for coffee Robusta, including the altitude, the tropical climate with ideal temperature high rainfall and high humidity as well as the soil content. However, the economic value of coffee Robusta is lower than that of coffee Arabica. Robusta is much stronger and bitter with high caffeine containing, which make it less favorable than Arabica. Vietnam government is trying to find ways to increase the areas of growing coffee Arabica. They set up the target of 30% of total coffee cultivating area for Arabica and 70% for Robusta in 2010 and they succeeded.

Coffee culture in Vietnam is very developed. Vietnamese people love drinking coffee and consider it as an everyday activity. Their traditional coffee which is called “Vietnamese iced coffee” always their favorite, even though the import of other types of coffee drinks around the world.

Vietnam is still highly estimated the coffee trees and values it as one of the most important exporting product. Vietnam is trying to improve the quality of coffee and widen the areas for growing coffee.