Will Frith

» As it Cools

A blog about the emerging specialty coffee industry in Vietnam, as well as the growing third-wave coffee culture in Saigon

Vietnam Coffee Festival, Pre-event Opening

Containers from Coffee's "First Wave." The collection was impressive and extensive. Currently, I'm in Buon Ma Thuot City, located in the Dak Lak province. This region produces nearly 50% of Vietnam's coffee crop. The Trung Nguyen Coffee Company is the sponsor (I'm sure we've all heard of them by now, with the founder publicly challenging Starbucks with plans to expand into the US market). Last night's VIP event was at their "Coffee Village," an impressive space with a coffee museum (the link will lead to TN's introduction to the museum, with a brisk slideshow), coffee trees as landscaping, nearly a dozen different coffee houses on-site (all TN brand of course) and preparation methods ranging from siphon to espresso to turkish and the obligatory Vietnamese dripper.

Built to resemble an Ede (ethnic minority in Dak Lak Province) Longhouse, the museum contains an impressive collection of old coffee equipment.

Cupping table with spittoon (foreground), grinders, and old espresso machines (background).

The things I would do with this piece of equipment...

There were speakers from Israel, Indonesia and VN and the spectacle was impressive. One presentation laid out a plan for Buon Ma Thuot to become the "Coffee Capitol of the World," a 100-year project, while laying out a seven-part plan to realize the vision. Ambitious and admirable goals, the Seven Initiatives for the Global Coffee Industry aim to turn the current system on its head (with Western consuming nations currently seeing nearly all of the industry's profit and producing nations in the Global South fighting to stay viable year to year, helpless as stock market speculators determine prices - rather than actual, value-based trade between producer and buyer). A key component in this plan is to increase consumption in producing nations with recognizable, home-grown brands. We'll see soon enough, or the next generation will. Today is the trade show part of the festival, so I'm about to get out into the world and see what "over 600 vendors and participants from the Vietnamese industry" have to offer.