Coffee culture Special

Vietnam Coffee Industry: From a plant grown in church to the second largest exporter in the world3 min read

10 June, 2019

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Vietnam Coffee Industry: From a plant grown in church to the second largest exporter in the world3 min read

The amazing story of Vietnam and coffee began when the coffee plant came to Vietnam in 1857 by the French commissionaires. Initially, very few coffee Arabica trees were experimentally planted in the churches’ yards in the northern part of Vietnam for personal desires.

The Beginning

The-earliest-coffee-plants-in-Vietnam
The earliest coffee plants in Vietnam, introduced by the French.

It was not until 1857 that coffee, from Martinique Island and Guyana in South America, was officially grown by the French in some areas which shared the similar climate and soil conditions. The French had never expected that one day, its once colony will become the second largest exporter of coffee in the world.

In 1925, by researching and investigating carefully in many areas, the French found out the best place to grow coffee: the country’s central highlands, especially Langbiang Plateau and Dak Lak Province. The French soon established and managed a lot of coffee farms. They forced local people to work on those farms. While the Arabica coffee was suitable in Langbiang, the Robusta was well-developed in Dak Lak. Most of the coffee in Viet Nam has been grown in these places since the discovery of the French.

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A Vietnamese coffee farmer. Photo taken on a farm owned by HANCOFFEE Vietnam.

Viet Nam caused a world-shaking event in the 1990s, becoming the second-largest in terms of coffee production in the world. However, despite its great volume of coffee exportation, about 95% of Vietnam coffee production is Robusta. This coffee root is poorer in quality and value than Arabica.

The Picture Of Vietnam Coffee Industry Today and Tomorrow

In recent years, Vietnam coffee industry has experienced dramatic growth. Thanks to the efforts of both the government and domestic companies, Arabica-growing areas have been slowly expanding in recent years. Numerous local coffee brands have become large producers, most notably Trung Nguyen, Vinacafe and Highlands Coffee. Besides, several international players including Nestle has involved in the coffee industry following the economic liberalization in the 1990s.

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The rise of modern coffee shops in Vietnam.
arabica-coffee
In Vietnam, it might not be all about robusta anymore.

While Vietnam remains an important player in the international coffee industry, we can expect the country to step up their games in the foreseeable future. From a plant grown experimentally in churches’ yards, they became the worldwide runner up in coffee exportation. Now, it might be about time for Vietnam to shift from quantity to quality. The first step should be expanding to the Arabica production and the F&B domains.

The aforementioned is the story of Vietnamese coffee. There exist story of Hanoi and other Asia countries’ coffee culture for you to explore here.