News / Asia

    Vietnam Aims to Improve Coffee Supplier Reputation

    Daniel Schearf
    When most people think of coffee they do not usually think of Vietnam.  But, this year the Southeast Asian nation surpassed Brazil as the world's biggest coffee exporter.  Almost all are robusta beans - a lower quality, higher-caffeine variety used to make espresso and instant coffee.

    Vietnam's largest coffee company, Trung Nguyen, wants to change the country's  reputation as a cheap coffee bean supplier.  Chairman Dang Le Nguyen drinks 10 cups a day and wants others to do the same to raise low domestic consumption and coffee culture.

    "We have the quantity and quality of robusta, which is number one in the world.  But, we are lacking one thing that is the packing industry, display industry, and storytelling industry, to make the world understand exactly what the world needs," he explained.  "Vietnam should be a great nation, not only in quantity."

    Vietnam's style of coffee preparation was influenced by the French, who introduced the bean to the former colony.  But the industry has only taken off in the past few decades and its coffee culture is relatively unknown abroad.

    American English teacher John Owens has come to enjoy the strong flavor of the local drip brew.

    "I had never heard about it until I came here," Owens says. "I do not think they market it, or they brand it.  I think they put it with other coffee."
     
    Trung Nguyen is trying to change that by marketing unique coffee products and is also working with its coffee farmers to try to improve quality and efficiency.

    Ma Chuong, who has been farming coffee beans for more than 30 years, says a company-financed drip irrigation system saves on water and labor and is more productive.
     
    "In the first year before we had this system our productivity was only 800 kilograms per hectare.  But, in the second year after installing this system, productivity went up to 1,400 kilograms per hectare," she explains.  "Last year, from our notes from start to end of harvest, productivity  was 2,040 kilograms."

    But according to Le Ngoc Bau, director of Vietnam's Western Highlands Agro-Forestry Scientific and Technical Institute, Vietnam's coffee production and exports may soon peak.  He thinks the country's status as number-one coffee exporter will not last.
     
    "Firstly, Vietnam's government has no policy to expand the area for coffee," he notes, "In August of 2012 the Minister of Agriculture made the decision to approve the master plan to develop the coffee industry to the year 2020 and our vision up to the year 2030.  For this master plan to the year 2020 the total area of coffee in Vietnam will be reduced to 500,000 hectares."

    In the meantime, coffee industry insiders say that while exports may level off, they can still work to improve quality.

    Photo Gallery

    • Ripening coffee cherries at a coffee farm in Buon Ma Thuot, Vietnam. (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • Farmer Ma Chuong shows the drip irrigation system (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • Green coffee cherries. (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • Coffee beans being sorted and cleaned at the factory in Buon Ma Thuot. (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • Beans being sorted and cleaned at the factory. (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • Coffee beans being sorted at the factory. (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • Vietnam's drip style coffee uses a steel filter and press. (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • Vietnam mainly produces Robusta beans (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • A Vietnamese-style coffee demonstration. (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • Dang Le Nguyen, chairman of Trung Nguyen Coffee Company, wants to make Vietnam a "coffee holy land." (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • A waiter serves Vietnamese-style coffee in Ho Chi Minh City. (D. Schearf/VOA)

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese Americans for Trump Going Against National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese Americans for Trump Going Against National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora