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

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend 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.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

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