Panama. Ethiopia. Colombia.
There is no question that we know these countries to be producers of some of the finest coffee around.
China. Philippines. Vietnam.
So what about these countries? There is no mistaking that with things like growing consumer demand, sustainability challenges, and climate change there is a real push towards sourcing coffee not just from traditional markets but also emerging markets that are capable of offering specialty grade coffee.
Recently I had the chance to get my hands on coffee from a number of emerging origins and it has been a mind-blowing experience. What is really incredible (besides these coffees) is that each of the three roasters who are sourcing beans from these unique and emerging origins are Canadian! Let me share them with you.
1. Rabbit Hole Roasters: CHINA
Hailing from Montreal, Quebec this fairly new coffee roaster is at the forefront of sourcing coffee from emerging origins. And they are very likely the first ever Canadian roaster to offer Chinese specialty coffee.
While specialty coffee from China is still not widely available, I do know of one other roaster (from London) who has also recently offered some. Specialty coffee from China is almost exclusively from the Yunnan province, where currently about 90% of it is harvested. This coffee is exported through Yunnan Coffee Traders. They are an incredible team doing incredible work to bring Chinese coffee to the forefront. The first legal and successful export of a full container of China Specialty Coffee from Menglian, Yunnan occurred in 2015.
From the RHR website:
This coffee is a washed coffee offers notes of purple grape, red apple, molasses and black tea, with hints of dried fruit. It is very sweet with high body. The varietal is Catimor, a hybrid between Caturra and Timor, not usually associated with high quality coffee. The unique soil of the Menglien region gives a very complex version of the variety, while keeping high yields and the disease resistant properties.
When I spoke with David (green buyer for RHR) he was so excited that I would have the chance to sample this coffee. When you brew this delightful coffee, expect notes of Maple Syrup, Cherry & Black Tea. If you’re looking for something unique I suggest getting your hands on this coffee.
I could say so much more but the team at Yunnan Coffee Traders wrote an in-depth article that sheds even more light onto this emerging origin: full article (seriously do yourself a favour and read the whole thing!)
Looking to get your hands on some of this unique coffee? Check out their web-store!
2. Kapé Coffee: PHILIPPINES
Kapé Coffee’s mission is to elevate Philippine coffee to specialty level and expand their market for sustainably sourced coffee. Recently they reached out to me and inquired if I wanted to try some of their coffee. How could I refuse?
Kapé is based out of Vancouver, BC and as far as I know is one of the only coffee roasters in Canada offering specialty grade coffee from the Philippines. I first heard about them a few months ago through my friend Stacey Lynden who been doing their roasting & profiling for the past few years. Kapé only sources arabica coffee from farmers they know and trust. And I think this is one of the mot impressive features about Kapé is their incredible level of transparency with regards to their farmers.
From their website:
In the Philippines, coffee culture did not catch on until the beginning of the millennium, when cafes started sprouting like crazy. There was a sudden trend of people hanging out in coffee shops. Pinoys were then getting their caffeine fixes in big chains and foregoing their usual instant coffee at home. Little did Filipinos know that in the Philippine highlands, there’s been a coffee-growing industry all along. In fact, our country used to export coffee, but with the lack of funding and financial support, coffee production declined and up to now, we have to rely on private initiatives to spur the development of coffee farming, harvesting, and processing in backyard farms.
They sent me a number of sample packs of their coffee and I got right at brewing them up. I was really impressed with their Honey Processed coffee from the Davao region. This was a remarkable coffee with notes of ripe stone fruit, and a syrupy sweetness. Another one that I quite enjoyed was their Semi-Washed coffee from Ate Roselyn Panolino. Grown at 1350 masl, it presents lovely notes of sweet cherry & a tea-like body.
I ran a poll on my Instagram story and only 28% of those who responded had tried coffee from the Philippines. What impressed me most, was how Kapé responded, saying “this is why we do what we do”. Their desire to do whatever it takes to help introduce people to their coffee is truly inspiring.
A huge thanks to Iona & Paolo who shared their coffee with me. They are such a wonderful couple who are incredibly committed to sharing their passion for coffee from the Philippines.
Looking to purchase some of their coffee? Visit their web-store or if you’re lucky enough to live in the Vancouver area, you can find them at a number of markets.
3. CRW Orient Coffee: VIETNAM
It was only a few months ago that I had my very first Vietnamese Coffee from one of my favourite Pho restaurants here in Calgary. The rich & roasty coffee along with the sweet layer of condensed milk created a very unique experience. While it may have been the French colonists who introduced coffee to Vietnam, the local culture has turned it into something of their very own.
The preparation process, as well as the blend of beans, helps give Vietnamese coffee its particular style. Coarsely ground beans go into a French drip filter (called a phin), which sits on top of the cup. The beans are weighted down with a thin lid, hot water is added to the phin, and then the water slowly trickles through into the cup. Most people drink the resulting dark, strong brew with sweetened condensed milk, a practice that began because the French couldn’t easily acquire fresh milk. (from lonely-planet)
I recently was introduced to Wilson Wong from Edmonton, Alberta who has been actively working towards getting Viet coffee into the hands of Canadians. What is unique to CRW Orient Coffee is that they are sourcing 100% ROBUSTA coffee. Yes you read that right! They may be the only people I know who are sourcing and roasting robusta coffee that isn’t a lower-grade coffee.
My buddy Wilson dropped by to give me a sample so of course I did what I do anytime I get a unique coffee–I brewed that stuff up right away. Wilson hooked me up with everything I would need to make an authentic viet-style coffee: a phin brewer, some longevity condensed milk and of course the coffee. The coffee he suggested to brew viet-style was their Dak Lak Province. The Dak Lak Province in the Central Highlands of Vietnam is called the “capital” of Vietnamese coffee because there are boundless green coffee fields on the local basaltic hills which are always full of wind and sunshine. It was a great tasty coffee. Next time I’ll try it over ice.
The team behind CRW Orient Coffee desires to reintroduce Robusta coffee to the Americas. If you want to get your hands on some then visit their web-store. If you live in the Greater Edmonton area, they offer free shipping! Check them out…you’ll be glad you did.
While it could be said that these emerging origins still have a way to go in regards to elevating their coffees to the quality & standards we all have come to expect with specialty coffee. But it brings me great joy to see three Canadian coffee roasters willing to invest their time, energy, and resources into seeing these emerging origins become far more common in our cafes and homes.
This is the bench-mark of specialty coffee… a hustle and desire to always grow, always improve, always strive for excellence, transparency and sustainability. So maybe you love an Ethiopian Natural, or a Panamanian Gesha, and maybe these will always be some of the most sought-after coffees on the planet. But maybe, just maybe, we’ll see in the coming years baristas brewing in cafes and (fingers crossed) baristas competing in global competitions with coffee from an emerging origin like one of these! Only time will tell.
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