yanmar is a country filled with incredible culture and beautiful landscapes with a vibrant coffee industry. Coffee has been an integral part of life in Myanmar for generations, so it's no surprise that local communities have embraced the practice of producing and consuming coffee from the region. As a traveller, you may not be aware of the role that local communities play in coffee farming when visiting Myanmar. Coffee production has grown in popularity over recent years, and with it so has the number of people wanting to learn more about its production. Let’s explore how local communities are involved with coffee farming in Myanmar and why it is important for us to support these efforts.

Coffee Beans

The History of Coffee Farming in Myanmar

The history of coffee farming in Myanmar dates back to the late 1800s when the British colonized the region. At this time, many British plantation owners began to cultivate coffee beans on their plantations. Over time, these plantations grew and spread throughout the country. 

Now, Myanmar is renowned for its coffee plantations with over 40,000 acres spread across Shan, Kayin and Chin States as well as Mandalay, Tanintharyi, Magway, Ayeyawaddy and PyinOoLwin. According to Myanmar Coffee Association, highland Arabica coffee is mostly grown in Northern and Southern Shan State, Chin State, Kachin State, Kayah State, Sagaing Region and Mandalay Region. Lowland Robusta coffee is grown in Bago Region, Ayeyarwaddy Region and Kayin State. The majority of these plantations are centered in Shan State due to its terrain which is ideal for cultivating the crop. The high elevation gives coffee beans a greater intensity of flavour in addition to the natural aroma inherent in Myanmar's climate. With the rising popularity of specialty coffee around the world it looks like Myanmar is primed for an exciting shift towards sustainable farming practices and increased access to export markets.

The Importance of Local Communities

The involvement of local communities is essential for the sustainable practices of coffee farming in Myanmar. Without local knowledge and expertise, it would be difficult to grow quality beans that can compete on the global market. Local farmers know their land best, which enables them to identify suitable areas for cultivation while respecting their environment's delicate balance. The farmers use traditional methods to nurture their trees, including pruning and nutrient management practices that have been passed down through generations. Myanmar utilizes a hybrid method that combines traditional picking and sorting by hand with a more modern roasting and brewing technique. Farmers pick the beans carefully by hand to ensure that only ripe, high-quality beans make it into the final product. Those beans are then sorted meticulously, removing any foreign matter or defective beans. Those beans are then processed and roasted before they can be sold as green beans or brewed as fresh cups of coffee. Additionally, they understand the unique climate conditions specific to their regions and how different varieties of beans may respond better than others.

Picking Coffee Seeds

The Benefits of Working with Local Communities

Supporting local communities provides numerous benefits both economically and socially. By working together, farmers can share resources such as labor, tools and seeds more efficiently among themselves - helping them produce higher-quality harvests at a lower cost. 

Furthermore, by contributing to community-led initiatives such as health care programs or educational initiatives, travelers can help increase the overall well-being of these communities while also reducing poverty levels.

In addition to providing financial support for locals, the sale of coffee also helps preserve traditional farming techniques used by generations before them. These traditional techniques help to reduce environmental pollution when compared with more industrialized processes of producing coffee. By working together to maintain these techniques, villagers help ensure that the knowledge remains alive within their community and passes on from generation to generation.

On top of that, many rural communities also provide social spaces where people can come together to discuss new ideas or share stories about their experiences with growing or processing coffee beans. These spaces can also help to create relationships between different members of a community that would otherwise not exist if not for these conversations about coffee production and consumption. Furthermore, these communal conversations often help bring attention to social issues such as deforestation or water pollution which can be caused by unsustainable farming practices.  This helps ensure that sustainable practices are adopted by all members of the community so that future generations may benefit from them as well.

Local Women Drying Coffee Beans

What You Can Do To Help

As a traveler visiting Myanmar, there are many ways you can contribute to supporting local coffee farmers. One way is to buy directly from farmers whenever possible; this helps ensure that farmers get a fair price for their product while also guaranteeing its freshness and quality. Alternatively, you could opt for brands that purchase from certified cooperatives or organizations that work with smallholder farmers who adhere to sustainability practices - like Rainforest Alliance Certified farms or those associated with the World Coffee Research body (WCR). 

Su Coffee, May Myo Fresh, May Myo Pure Coffee, Hlaing Kyi Coffee, Htarwaya Coffee, Sawbwa Coffee, Shwe Ywa Ngan Coffee and Coffee Win are some of Myanmar coffee companies that go above and beyond to build relationships and partnerships with farmers from poorer, undeveloped regions and support them in their endeavors. Not only do these Myanmar coffee companies create exceptional products using the best available beans, but they also actively work to show economic support for disadvantaged farmers and promote a responsible farming culture in Myanmar.

Coffee Win
Sawbwa Coffee

All in all, Myanmar has a vibrant and unique coffee and tea culture that is largely supported by its local communities. Through cultivating and selling the crop, these communities generate an important source of income for residents who may otherwise not have any other employment options available to them. Supporting local coffee farmers goes beyond just buying organic or fair-trade products; it involves directly investing back into rural communities who depend on coffee production as a source of livelihood. By understanding how these communities are involved with coffee farming in Myanmar and what we can do as travelers to help them out, we can ensure that not only do we enjoy our cup of coffee but also contribute positively towards improving lives within rural areas in Myanmar.

February 24, 2023