There are over 30 villages involved in the ITDP* coffee project in the Chiang Mai – Chiang Rai region of Northern Thailand. This year we chose samples from two of these villages as our La Mai coffee.
[* = Integrated Tribal Development Program - our partners on the ground in Thailand.]
We’ve been asked not to specify the names of these villages, because in the past ITDP has had problems in past years with rogue coffee buyers poaching their coffee! Buyers would offer farmers immediate payment in cash, which they were tempted to accept, even though it was much less money than they might have been promised by ITDP.
Nevertheless, we know a fair bit about the growing conditions for these coffees
(UPDATED) Village 1 grows the coffee at 1200-1300m; Village 2 at 1000-1100m above sea level. Both comprise mainly Catimor & Typica varieties. The processing is done at the end of the day on which it is picked. After pulping, the beans are soaked in water for around 36 hours (2 nights) until the mucilage loosens. They then get a thorough washing, before being sun-drying on raised beds. Drying takes 7-8 days.
The picking quality is good, but like many coffees there is evidence of a small percentage of underripe beans in the mix. This is something we would love to help with if we are able to return to Thailand to visit the project – early next year if possible!
We are really happy with this quality of the coffee this year. We said the same about last year’s crop, I seem to remember, but 2012 crop is another improvement!
The flavour sweet and quite clean – predominantly a nutty sweetness, with notes of caramel and a hint of earthiness. Quite reminiscent of a washed Indonesian coffee (Java, Flores, Bali etc.). The acidity is light and has hints of orange and fresh apple. Over all impression is a satisfying and well-rounded coffee, very well suited to milk-based espresso drinks.
We are really happy to have this coffee. It will take pride of place in our seasonal espresso blends for the next 6 months, adding a real depth and complexity.
We are also really proud to have a coffee that we have been able to source so directly. We have every intention of nurturing our relationship with the producers of La Mai for many years to come, and can’t wait to invest further in it.
It is available here on our web shop.