During my last stay in Vientiane I read an interesting article about Lao Mountain coffee and the Jhai Coffee Farmers Cooperative in Stay another day.
Lao Mountain Coffee (www.laomountaincoffee.com) is a Vientiane based coffee roasting company. They roast some specialty grade coffee from Laos famous coffee growing area in the South, the Bolaven Plateau.
In fact they are the only Fair Trade and organic coffee roasting company in Laos and one of only a few in South East Asia. They have developed a close relationship with the Fair Trade certified farmer group, the Jhai Coffee Farmers Cooperative (www.jhaicafe.com), which resides in Champasak province. The Cooperative runs a tiny little office in Pakse town. Day trips can be arranged to visit the small farms around Pakse town.
Steve Feldschneider (firstname.lastname@example.org), the owner, invited me to visit Lao Mountain coffee, which is located in Ban Nongbone in Vientiane capital and only 200 meters away from the That Luang Stupa.
Upon my arrival at the Lao style Villa a nice breeze of freshly roasted and grounded coffee leaded me directly to the heart of the Lao Mountain Coffee company.
Steve welcomed me and gave me a brief overview of Laos coffee producing history. He also explained me about the roasting process and their special way to produce small amounts of coffee on order. Using small amounts of coffee at a time gives them the possibility to control the grade of roasting and the mixture of different coffee beans to a much better extend than in an ordinary coffee roasting company.
The fact that he has such well known names amongst his clients as Residence Phou Vao, Maison Souvannaphoum in Luang Prabang or the world famous Oriental hotel in Bangkok proves his roasting philosophy true.
Towards the end of my visit Steve told me about the cupping process. Cupping is the art of coffee tasting. Coffee consists of more than 800 different aromatic compounds, so coffee cupping is one of the most complex sensory experiences one can do.
Coffee beans from different growing areas, unwashed and washed, roasted and grounded are provided along with a professional instruction about coffee cupping.
Of course , there are also some cafe tables in the lush garden around the Villa, where a freshly roasted and grounded coffee can be tasted after a visit in the nearby That Luang Stupa.
The coffee cupping experience can be arranged for visitor upon prior notice. The program consists of the coffee cupping experience, the tour through the Villa’s compound, including the roasting and manufacturing areas of the company. Visitor can also get some hands on roasting and grounding experience.
Although the price of the coffee cupping program is a bit high - there is lots of fresh coffee and unique experiences involved, which one hardly can get elsewhere and for less money.
Needless to say that once Steve found out that I have a favour for Italian style coffee he offered me a special blend, which he prepared by himself. Well… Another story from Laos…