Have you heard of a country in Southeast Asia named Laos? Did you know that Laos has been producing coffee for decades?
If you’re a coffee professional, you probably knew that already, however, for those of you who didn’t, I’d like to share some of the history of this country’s culture, some issues the country has faced, the history of its coffee production, and finally I would like to introduce some interesting Laos Natural coffees.
Laos is unique among many Southeast Asian countries in that it was largely influenced by Indian culture rather than Chinese.
In the 1st century, Indian merchants established trade routes to Laos, and before long Buddhism was introduced. To this day, Buddhism remains the dominant religion in Laos.
From the 14th to 18th centuries, Laos experienced a few periods of prosperity and weathered threats from different countries. Eventually, the country split into 3 regions: Luang Prang in the north, Vientiane in the middle, and Champasak in the South.
This weakened the region and it was ultimately conquered by Siam (present-day Thailand). Attempts to overthrow the Siamese all failed.
(Credit: Vincent Rouffaer )
In the early 1900s, the French expanded their empire and drove the Siam government out of Laos, which was controlled by the French for a short time.
Around World War II, battles fought between the Thai, Japanese, and French led to Laos becoming independent for a short time.
Before long, Laos was involved in the Indo-China War, which resulted in communism’s rise to power. Laos was afflicted with poverty and poor economic growth, until finally introducing economic policy reforms.
This brings us to present-day Laos, which continues to struggle to rise above the poverty line.
Introduction of Coffee to Laos
Coffee was first introduced to Laos sometime during French occupation from the late 1890’s until the 1950’s.
Originally, coffee was planted in the northern province, but it was discovered that this region wasn’t very suitable for the methods of planting used at that time.
In 1949, coffee crops also experienced a huge frost that, along with other factors, resulted in coffee production moving to the southern areas of Laos near the Bolaven Plateau of the Champasak.
( Credit: Nicole Motteux )
Noticing all the problems with frost, disease, and low yield, the Laotian farmers began to swap Arabica out for the more resilient Robusta varieties of coffee.
While a large majority of the coffee production in Laos is still Robusta today, there are still many farmers that are planting and harvesting some great Arabica coffees.
(Credit: Vincent Rouffae )
Laos Coffees at Torch
To this last point, we at Torch have found some really great Arabica coffees from Laos’ recent coffee harvests.
Among all the coffees we tried, we have chosen two different Natural-processed and one Honey-processed coffee.
These coffee has an elevation of around 1200-1400m. These coffees are all different iterations of the Yunnan Catimor, which is renowned for its resiliency and resistance to disease.
The Laos Natural #1 exhibits exotic flavors, such as Mango, Passionfruit, and Black Cherry.
The Laos Natural #2 is very different but equally wild, with notes of Cookies, Vanilla, and Dried Apple.
Finally, our Laos Honey-processed is quite different from the other two Naturals. This bean has more subtle tea-like notes, including Apple, Orange Peel, and Green Tea.
We are are serving these coffees in the Pu’er café, so we hope to see you soon! If you can’t make it to Pu’er, but would still like to try these exotic coffees, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us directly, or drop by our online store on WeChat or Taobao!
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