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Meeting BEANSPIRE Thailand

18 January 2017

The hustle and bustle of south-east Asia is like nothing else. The streets are full of food vendors and small stalls selling locally crafted goods. The air is thick and full of spice-like aromas mixed with exhaust fumes. The people are friendly and helpful, and as you look around all you can think is that the continent is economically on the rise.

I’ve travelled to Thailand numerous times before, but found myself more focussed on the beautiful beaches than the coffee industry. Although after a bit of research, I found that there’s some extremely interesting things happening within specialty roasting and farming in the country. I got in contact with Faudi Pitsuwan and Jane Kittiratanapaiboon from BEANSPIRE, and set my focus on understanding what’s truly happening in Thailand’s coffee scene.

BEANSPIRE is a newly formed exporter with a strong focus on specialty farming. Both Fuadi and Jane immerse themselves in all things farming, and spend a large part of the year actually on the farms themselves. Working closely with experienced green coffee buyers, they have been able to pick up growing and processing techniques such as Kenya style washed, and full cherry ferment honey hybrids, from all around the world. After implementing these methods in the farms they work with, the cup profile has substantially increased, and is proving to be the main reason why they are well ahead of the pack when it comes to finding specialty coffee in Thailand.

We met in the early morning in Chiang Mai. The first stop was to A/sa/ma café (which is basically just a brew bar), owned and run by Asama Mook Vichaidit, a WBC judge and probably the most passionate barista I’ve met. Brewed of a spirit duette, I was served an amazing Chiang Mai 80 washed, that held notes of cocoa, pepper, orange and toffee. The brewbar is hidden in a little village on the outskirts of Chiang Mai and sits right on a little river. A big recommendation to anyone thinking of travelling that way.

Then it was off to Ponganes, a specialty roaster whose owner had trained in Australia. This Café really helps change your impressions on the Thai coffee scene. Everyone is young and passionate with a real understanding of specialty coffee, their blends are intricate with origins like PNG, Brazil, Ethiopia, Kenya etc. Their roaster is a customised Probat 5kg, and they serve some of the world’s leading roasters including my close friend Simon Jarimillo of Reformatory coffee.

After finishing up with our early morning caffeinating, we set our sights on the first farm visit. Visiting farms around the world is a bit of a chore, most airports are a 3 to 10-hour drive from the first plantation. However, the closest farm from Chiang Mai is an extremely short 45 mins.

We met with Oii and Nui from Indoi Coffee farm. Their farm has been in the family for 3 generations and has a span of about 15 hectares. Found in the Doi-saket Provence, the farm is hidden in quite a thick forest with trees only seeing direct sunlight for about 2 hours a day. They mainly grow Typica variety, however I did spot some Chiang Mai 80 and bourbon trees. The altitudes are varying between 1100 and 1500 and the soil is an older volcanic blend.

They are using customised drying screens on raised beds to dry their parchment, and the majority of the harvest is being processed in the traditional Kenyan style washed. While I was there I did notice some extremely interesting experimental processes being performed. These included a temperature controlled natural, wet fermentation with yeast, honey hybrids and many more.

It didn’t take me long to fall in love with this farm. The level of care and passion Oii and Nui had for the production of their beans was second to none, and now that they have teamed up with BEANSPIRE I truly think their 2017 crop will be tasting out of this world.

Make sure to check out both BEANSPIRE and INDOI farms pages on beanlinked.