INDOCHINA COFFEE – WHAT’S IN A NAME?
We began setting up Indochina Coffee in 2015 with three clear aims:
1) to source outstanding specialty coffee in Southeast Asia and bring it to the UK
2) to work with producers in the region to improve the quality of their coffee
3) to bring roasters and producers closer together.
We’ll admit that, at the time, this didn’t seem like an overly challenging mission. How wrong we were! We were coming across great coffees in Thailand, China and Myanmar and already had a handful of good relationships with producers in these countries, as well as a few roasters in the UK and Europe. What could possibly go wrong? Lots of things, it turns out.
However, to cut a very long story short, we managed to land some fantastic lots form China and Myanmar in September 2017. We couldn’t have been more excited to finally get started! It already felt like the journey had been long and harsh, but it really only began once roasters and then coffee drinkers started tasting the potential for themselves.
We’re now into our second year with multiple exceptional lots from both China and Myanmar, which are finding homes at some of the most highly regarded roasters across the UK and Europe.
But we digress. The real reason we wanted to put a few words down at this point is in relation to our name: Indochina Coffee. Geographically, it’s kind of correct and certain audiences in particular countries definitely get what it is that we’re trying to do – and where our coffees come from. Others often have no idea whatsoever!
Strictly speaking, we’re initially focusing on what used to be known as the Indochinese Peninsula but what is formally known nowadays as the Greater Mekong Subregion – or, more specifically, Yunnan (in China), Myanmar (or Burma), Thailand (or the Kingdom of Thailand) and Laos (or the Lao People’s Democratic Republic).
Vietnam produces a huge amount of coffee and, although its reputation in specialty circles is sometimes adversely influenced by its focus on lower quality Robusta, there are some serious specialty coffee operations cropping up there too, as with Cambodia. All in good time. But we’re also fascinated by the potential of coffees from the Philippines and even Sri Lanka too…which, even with the biggest stretches of imagination, clearly have nothing to do with Indochina geographically-speaking.
At this point in time, ‘Indochina Coffee’ has gone from being very much a working title to something more permanent. Let’s see how we go. Nearly all our time is spent meeting with producers, burying ourselves in logistics (shipping, export & import licenses etc.), sharing samples with roasters – thinking about our brand has been at the bottom of our priorities for a long time.
All we really know is that there are some wonderful coffees coming out of these amazing places and that we’re passionate and determined to bring them to you.
(One last thing: it pains our British sensibilities, but you may have noticed that we use ‘specialty’ rather than ‘speciality’ when referring to our coffees. We see ‘specialty coffee’ as the global term for the industry so, somewhat reluctantly, that’s what we’ve decided to stick with.)