Coffee from Laos


Laos, which is located next to a well-known coffee empire, Vietnam, is attempting to become the world’s new coffee star, with coffee quality comparable to Vietnam. Laotian coffee has many distinct flavor characteristics that distinguish it from Vietnamese coffee.

1. Laotian coffee’s history

French colonialists introduced the first coffee plant to Laos around 1915. After much trial and error while attempting to harvest coffee beans in the north, the French realized that southern Laos was the best location, ideal for planting. A volcanic eruption in the south millions of years ago made the mineral-rich southern land ideal for coffee production. The Bolaven Plateau, which is still Laos’ primary coffee-producing region, is also located in the south. The Bolaven Plateau is located in the Paksong region, which is dominated by year-round vegetation. Its fertile soil is not only the reason for ideal coffee production, but it also has an altitude of 800 to 1350 meters and a cool climate. When World War II broke out, France was forced to grant Laos independence. As a result, coffee production slowed significantly. Previously, they had been profitable in the mid-1930s, with an annual output of 5,000 tons.

Soon after, many coffee plants died as a result of the 1949 Great Frost and orange rust. This is a fungus that parasitizes crop plants in the form of an orange powder, causing leaves, flowers, and berries to fall and thereby destroying the crop. During the Vietnam War, American bombs destroyed much of Laos’ land, further limiting coffee production. Over the last two decades and so, the Laotian government has collaborated with coffee pickers to grow more Arabica crops because higher prices increased farmers’ incomes. Laos has 20,000 coffee-growing communities spread across 250 villages, with many families relying on the crop.

2. Paksong is the Laotian coffee capital

Coffee-growing regions are frequently among the most beautiful in the world, and this appears to be the case on the Bolaven Plateau, a plateau in southern Laos known for its magnificent waterfalls. The Bolaven Plateau, located on an extinct crater at an elevation of 1,000 to 1,300 meters, is one of the country’s great riches due to the export value of the coffee produced here. Paksong is an important center of this touristically underappreciated territory.

Laos primarily grows two types of coffee: Robusta and Arabica. The first blend accounts for three-quarters of the total and is commonly used for popular consumption as well as in the preparation of traditional Lao coffee. The second blend, on the other hand, is of higher quality and is primarily grown for export; it remains to be seen how government decisions to favor beans for foreign trade will influence local consumption habits. It should be noted that the Bolaven Plateau produces up to 95 percent of all coffee produced in Laos. Laos produces 20,000 tons of coffee per year, including 5,000 tons of Arabica and 15,000 tons of Robusta. Arabica coffee is of exceptional quality.

Exploring the Paksong area by bicycle is another option. You can visit the various villages surrounding the town, admiring the incredible views and meeting the various ethnic minorities who live there. Those looking for a place to stay in Paksong will find a variety of options, including spartan homestays and local guesthouses, as well as more upscale establishments like the Phu Tevada Hotel and the Tad Fane Resort. Whatever you choose, a stay in Paksong will not disappoint.

Paksong enjoys a microclimate that keeps it cooler than the surrounding areas, but keep in mind that the Bolaven area is very rainy, especially between July and October. During this time, transportation may be difficult due to swollen rivers, but you can admire the falls in all their splendor.

3. How is Lao coffee made?

Laotians rarely drink black coffee and instead mix it with powdered milk, condensed milk, and sweetened condensed milk. They made a rich coffee drink by using a large cloth filter that looked like a large sock. Laotians then add milk and condensed milk to still hot black coffee. The end result is a delectable, thick, sweet, almost chocolate-like mixture. You can also add ice to the coffee to suit your preferences. “Cafe” is the Lao word for coffee, and “nom coffee” is the Lao word for milk. Add the word “hon” if you want hot coffee. However, because the weather in Laos is too hot, it is preferable to drink coffee with ice. “Cafe nom yen” is iced milk coffee. Laotians prefer their coffee to be especially sweet and white in color, so ask for it with “wahn noy neung” and less milk with “sai nom noy neung.” Laotian iced coffee is available almost everywhere, with prices ranging from 7,000 to 12,000 kip for a large cup. Outdoor cafes in Laos are frequently decorated with condensed milk cans.