Place in world as coffee exporter (13/14):
Sacks (60kg) exported annually (13/14):
Approx. 24,793,000 (incl. Robusta)
Percentage of world coffee market:
Other major agricultural exports:
Rice, Rubber, Cashew Nuts, Pepper
Estimated number of families relying on coffee for livelihood:
Approx. 2.6 million people[i]
Typical Varieties Produced:
95% Robusta; 5% Arabica: Catimor, Excelsa
Key Coffee Regions:
Central Highlands, North Vietnam, South Vietnam
Typical Harvest Times:
October - April
Mercanta is excited to be the first if not the only specialty coffee importer to offer high quality, specialty microlots from Vietnam. This is a new origin for us, as of 2015, and we are proud to be investing in sustainably grown and priced specialty-grade Arabica in a region with great potential for the future.
Farmers who produce all of the Vietnamese coffees we offer have received extensive training on improving all aspects of their production, from cultivation to business practices. All data regarding cultivation is entered on a regular basis into ‘farmers’ field books’, which are reviewed and discussed regularly with a field advisor and specialist. In the end of the year, the data is analysed and feedback is given to each farmer in farmers’ field schools, so that producers are able to more accurately complete cost-benefit analyses and better understand and implement the necessary steps to continue improving their production. This exceptionally rigorous approach to training and production practices (virtually unheard of elsewhere n the country) has resulted in an exceptional coffee that whispers of great things to come from this origin.
Coffee was introduced to Vietnam in the 1800’s, and throughout the French Colonial period, Arabica was actually grown on many French-owned plantations. Nonetheless, due to a variety of political and economic factors (including a massive civil war and subsequent Communist prohibitions on private land ownership), Vietnam was slow to achieve any real relevance as a coffee producing nation. As of 1990, Vietnam was responsible for a tiny 1% of world coffee trade.
This had all changed by 1990, by which point Vietnam had reached its current place as the second highest producing coffee country in the world (after Brazil) – a result of heavy investment in coffee production made possible by the liberalisation of land ownership under Doi Moi reforms in the mid-1980s and World Bank/IMF policy recommendations incentivising farmers to produce coffee for export. The country’s story of rapid growth, however, left little room for high-quality coffee. Some 95% of the country’s production is Robusta, and although Arabica coffee production has been increasing in recent years due to the expansion in growing area and yield improvement, it still accounts for very little of the overall coffee production in Vietnam.
Coffee production in Vietnam is concentrated in the Central Highlands (80%), and the small portion of Arabica grown in the country hails almost entirely from the Lam Dong province, located in the north of the Province. The terrain here is largely what is locally called ‘Bazan Red land’ (red basalt soil) and offers the perfect conditions for growing coffee. This rich volcanic mountain soil, coupled with the highland elevations contributes to slow, even development of the coffee cherry and, ultimately, to a sweeter, better cup of coffee.
There hasn’t traditionally been a great demand for traceable coffees from Vietnam, considering the country’s economic development as a supplier of large quantities of commodity grade coffee. However, Mercanta’s partners have articulated a commitment to continue striving for excellence in this region with great potential for the future.