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Vietnam Harvesting

Vietnam Harvesting

The Baron had so much fun in Vietnam last time and was so impressed by the potential of their Arabica coffee that he is back there right now checking out the harvest. This time Yahava’s senior roaster, Rob (a.k.a. the Koffee Dude), and Margaret River roaster, Jade (a.k.a. the Koffee Krackerjack), are with him so they can search out great coffee to bring back for our Yahava customers!!! Keep an eye out on Facebook for photos and tales (some might even be true) from our latest adventure to origin.

VIETNAM TRIP – Koffee KrackerJack – Jade

After hours in the air and numerous attempts of trying to sleep on planes, The Baron, Rob and I finally arrived in Dalat – Vietnam. Dalat is a small city of around 250,000 people located in the Central Highlands in Southern Vietnam its altitude is around 5,000 feet above sea level (great for growing Arabica coffee!)
We arrived at our hotel around 6pm local time, after a hour’s drive from the airport. Driving into Dalat we all fell in love with this city immediately! It has a great vibe for a place which is located so far up in the mountains, really quite remarkable. After a quick bite to eat we all headed back to the hotel for some well deserved R&R, knowing we had to be up early to trek up into the mountains in search for coffee.
Tian was our amazing guide for the trip and gave us the rundown of our day’s adventures. Today he has planned to take us up to where all the small farmers (Garden Plantations) grow their coffee, it’s an awesome drive up the mountains as you go from commercial setups into residential coffee growing ones.

At our first stop Tian walked us into some Garden Plantations and we were lucky enough to have met with a lady who was tending to her coffee trees right out near the path we were trekking along. She was kind enough to invite us into her small cabin like home for some traditionally made Green Tea! She took the leaves straight off the tree growing outside her door and brewed us a pot as we all sat down and chatted about life growing coffee in the highlands of Vietnam – we were the first people to ever be invited into her home, leaving us feeling very grateful!

After leaving the Garden Plantations Alex asked our guide, Tian, if he knew of any mills around the area. Tian said that he did but it’s not usually something he goes and looks at so he doesn’t know the people directly… &lsquothat’s ok’ Alex says, I’ll flash my business card and they will let us in and we can start chatting to them’ We weren’t able to find any coffee mills in this area but Tian did take us to a Tea Mill where the owner/manager was more than happy to let us have a look through. Was really great to see how everything is done, and also view the farmers out in the fields picking the tea!
After a long day we stopped in for some lunch a local cafe, which was a shack on the side of the mountain we were driving down, and then we began our descent back down the mountain to our hotel and to meet another friend of ours “Saigon Export” the local beer!

So the next day we were off in the opposite direction as the previous day heading to the mill. We arrive, unannounced, to VINHHAN COFFEE. To my surprise we were greeted with a smile, and a VERY firm handshake from Ms Vinh. From looks alone, a stone faced, straight-down-the-line business woman. We all sat down in the lounge room of her huge house with marble floors and sandstone cornices and Alex starts firing questions at her via Tian. Ms Vinh was more than helpful with her answers and with her supply of Green Tea which left Jade and Rob searching for the bathroom.

Turns out they have 7 mills in that area and produce 20,000 tonnes of green coffee annually, one third of which is Arabica. We were then shown around her mill and given some green samples to smuggle back home. Jade and Rob had some photos taken with the workers who just stared at us and smiled. Alex talked up Rob’s volleyball prowess once seeing they had a court outside and a quick one-on-one game was had. Alex obviously was lying! This experience at VINHHAN COFFEE and being able to get green samples from them, which could possibly be good quality Arabica in a predominately Robusta area that no one else is using gave me a real sense of achievement and is the whole reason for doing these trips.
From Ms Vinh we were given a contact to the company that export coffee out of Ho Chi Minh City, “Coffee Control”.

As our day was coming to an end we managed to fit in some sightseeing and some lunch, then headed back to the hotel to pack and enjoy our last dinner in Dalat before heading back to Ho Chi Minh City!
Alex and his business partner John Batty had managed to spend a little time in Ho Chi Minh City whilst adventuring around Asia on their motorbikes a few months back, which meant Alex made a perfect tour guide! We arrived at our hotel around 2.30pm at had a quick shower and change before heading into the heart of the city to find the place Ms Vinh mentioned to us “Coffee Control”

As the name suggests they look at quality of the coffee they buy and make sure the quality is up to standard for the companies they are buying for before shipping the product. Their building doesn’t give much away when looking from the roadside pavement it literally looks like a vertical rectangle with the company sign on top of it. From what was explained to us, we were under the impression that we would be seeing their processing and sorting and holding area, we were very wrong, we were visiting the offices. We waited for the boss of Coffee Control once he arrived we were taken up four flights of stairs, past various nondescript doors and their Coffee Labs, then into what seemed to be their board room. From there we sat with the Boss and a lady that seemed to be his wife…to Rob’s dis-appointment! Alex did his thing, asking lots of questions, most of which I would never have thought of and seemed to be getting the right answers back, one of which shocked us all! Alex asked how much they charge to collect the green coffee from the mills and export them to you
’1.6 US dollars’ the boss says
Alex confirms ’1.6?’
Boss ‘yes ‘
Alex ‘you mean $1,600 per tonne to export?’
Boss ‘no, $1.60 US$
Alex ‘$1.60!’
Boss ‘yes!’
With the brightest eyes I had seen all trip Alex retorts, ’God I love Vietnam’

So from there we shake hands, say our good-byes, walk past the labs, through the offices and out the front door of the vertical rectangle, hail a cab and head for an afternoon coffee and wait for the post-Vietnam coffee headache……beer will fix that on our last night!

We spent the afternoon discussing how well behaved we were all going to be that night as we had to be at the airport at 7am the next morning…. unfortunately our discussion went completed unnoticed and after climbing into bed at 2am we all knew tomorrow was going to be a long day!!
All in all we found the trip to Dalat (Vietnam) to be extremely worthwhile and all concluded we would return again in a heartbeat!





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