Learning About Southeast Asian Coffee: For True Coffee Enthusiasts
Whether you already appreciate the delights of SE Asia coffee or you are just learning about all of the amazing tastes this region produces, you may find it interesting to learn that Southeast Asian coffee has a culture all its own. What follows is everything you need to know about SE Asian coffee culture. Where it is grown, how it is grown and more!
When you ask for coffee in Indonesia, be sure to call it Kopi. The most famous type of Kopi is probably Kopi Luwak, the most expensive coffee in the world, in part because if its unique production process, which begins when the beans are digested by a cat/monkey like animal called a civet.
However, Indonesian coffee features many more varieties than this. In fact, Indonesia produces a third of the world’s coffee beans, mostly Robusta, but some Arabica as well. Indonesia coffee is typically brewed in an unwashed cloth pouch and wok-roasted with corn kernels and butter.
When you are trying to think of the world’s major coffee exporters, Vietnam may not come immediately to mind, so it may surprise you to learn that Vietnam is the second largest exporter of coffee in the world.
Originally brought to Vietnam by the French, the popular beverage has become integrated into Vietnamese culture, with coffee concoctions that may include fruit, eggs, or yogurt. Like Indonesian beans, Vietnamese coffee beans are mostly Robusta beans, which can take some getting used to if you are a traditional western coffee drinker accustomed to Arabica beans.
If you’re on a coffee tour in Asia, you will want to visit Chiang Mai, a city in the north of Thailand with hundreds of Thai coffee shops. While Thai tea enjoys a greater following now, the popularity of Thai coffees like Thailand Peaberry are on the rise.
Another SE Asia coffee country with the French to thank, Cambodia has been growing coffee since the 18thcentury, and is the place to look for dark, bold coffee in Southeast Asia. Cambodian coffee is typically roasted with vegetable fat until practically black and then ground up to brew a rich, bold-flavored coffee that’s perfect for the true coffee fan.
Thank the French once again, who brought coffee to Laos in the early 1900s. It caught on immediately. When the locals discovered that Laotian soil and weather are particularly well-suited to coffee growth, it quickly became the largest agricultural export in the country, producing about 20,000 tons of the stuff per year.
Where is the next big Southeast Asian coffee going to come from? It may interest you to learn that some people think it may be Malaysia, which has been distracted from coffee production by its success with other crops, like sugar, tea, rubber and palm oil. But the country is turning its attention to coffee of late, especially as global coffee prices rise.
Java Just Sounds Like Coffee
It’s hard to talk about SE Asian coffees without mentioning Java, the island that is literally synonymous with coffee. Java has been producing its own rich brand of coffee for over 400 years, since the Dutch introduced coffee to the island, and Java coffee continues to be popular among locals and as an export today.