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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More