by BO LI on Jan 03, 2023
The Land of a Million Elephants...coffee!
Recently we have covered another Southeast Asian powerhouse of coffee, Vietnam, quite a bit. Though Vietnam is as much deserving of some coffee spotlight time as many other coffee mainstays like Brazil or Colombia so too does another one of Southeast Asia's treasures, Laos.
Laos is known for its keen tourism and how visits to its majestic waterfalls and mountains can make for lifelong memories. Laos has a colorful history and is home to scores of Buddhist relics, temples, and sacred sites. Of course, as Laos is known as "the Land of a Million Elephants" pachyderms are in no short supply, either!
But today we will take a look at Laos as a coffee-producing nation and learn how those stunning mountains, rivers, jungles, and waterfalls all contribute to some truly stellar coffee beans! Keep reading to discover more about Laotian coffee.
The origins of Laotian coffee
Coffee production in Laos began in 1915 when French colonists introduced robusta, arabica, and even the rare liberica coffee plants in Laos. The plants first arrived in the northern regions of Laos. But over time, it became apparent that coffee plants, arabica, in particular, would thrive more effectively in the south of Laos. The southern part of the country hosts the Bolaven Plateau in the region of Paksong. The high elevation, cool climate, verdant weather and vegetation, and volcanic soil all conspire to make a real haven for coffee plants. Today there are over 10,000 coffee-growing communities, villages, and farms in Laos and Laotian Arabica is quickly becoming a real star of the specialty coffee scene.
Though Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, and other Southeast Asian regions usually come to mind when it comes to coffee production and export, Laos is still a major and impressive contender. But why is Laos such an ideal country for coffee cultivation?
One of the big draws for foreign tourists to visit Laos has to do with Laos's natural splendors. Vaulting and verdant mountains are bejeweled by thunderous waterfalls and raging rivers. The tropical climate and constant and heavy rainfall also contribute to an ideal spot for coffee plants.
As we have mentioned before in some of our other articles, arabica plants need a sort of "goldilocks zone" to grow properly. Arabica plants crave high elevations, cool, cloudy, and rainy weather, a tropical climate, rich and varied biodiversity, a natural forest canopy, and porous soil-ideally volcanic soil that is rich in minerals. If all these criteria are met arabica plants will develop into some truly incredible specimens of the caffeine world. Laos just so happens to offer all of the above!
But what does it taste like?
Certainly we would not leave our readers hanging by describing Laotian coffee's background and natural environment without giving some more gustatory details! So, how does Laotian coffee taste and smell? Laos coffee has a flavor and aroma palette that includes roasted cereal grains, dark and bittersweet chocolate, nougat, brown sugar, and dried fruit with some earthiness.
Laos; come for the elephants stay for the coffee!
Laos is a wondrous Southeast Asian country that must be seen to be believed. As coffee plants thrive when they are in a state of rich and wild nature, Laos has just the environment for coffee plants. That is why Laos is a nation not to pass up when it comes to quality coffee beans. You'll thank the Buddha you gave Laotian coffee beans a try!
Beach, Regina. “The Rich History of Lao Coffee.” Culture Trip, theculturetrip.com/asia/laos/articles/the-rich-history-of-lao-coffee/.
“Coffee Production in Laos.” Wikipedia, 23 Aug. 2022, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffee_production_in_Laos. Accessed 31 Dec. 2022.
MacDonnell, Kate. “Laos Coffee: Flavors, History, & Brewing Tips.” Coffee Affection, 4 Feb. 2022, coffeeaffection.com/laos-coffee/. Accessed 31 Dec. 2022.