I am in no doubt that over the years of your coffee drinking career, you have paused, marvelled, and pondered how coffee puts the world not just on your doorstep, but in your mouth. As I’m writing this I’m in southern Sydney, sipping coffee that was grown in Ethiopia, roasted in Denmark, sent via a Slovenian magazine that was printed and shipped from Germany. It’s quite tasty.
Myanmar is coming to you live from at least two fronts. Its current political climate has put it prominently in your news feed, but maybe you weren’t aware that it’s also coming to you via the many high quality specialty coffee farms in the country.
But as much as I’m sure you have pondered the global community of coffee, I’m equally sure Myanmar wasn’t at the forefront of your mind when you imagine the countries at the communal coffee table. I’m sure of this because it wasn’t at the forefront of mine and I’m projecting my truth on to you. Nothing you can do about it.
What you can do is check out the Ngu Shwe Li Coffee Estate and get a peek into the really tasty stuff that’s coming out of the country. This estate is a beauty, and has a multi-disciplinary, holistic, and economical approach to coffee farming. Macadamia trees provide both shade coverage and an alternative income, and some of the farm is devoted to a nursery, so owner U Kyaw Sein can replenish the farm with his own seedlings. Dragon fruit plants are also interspersed throughout for supplementary income, and creating a Dr Suess-esque aesthetic for whimsical strolls round the plantation.
Their predominant varietal is SL34 (one of my personal favourites), giving the coffee that dried cranberry and blackcurrant with a syrupy mouthfeel profile that is often associated with Kenyan coffees where the bean was developed.
The beans are processed using natural or honey methods on site, and – like music to any coffee nerds’ ears – they experiment. This year it’s drying the naturals on bamboo trays. And if steamed dumplings are anything to go by, good things come out of bamboo baskets. However it’s washed they’re after, the beans are sent a short distance away to Mandalay Coffee Group for processing.
MCG is Myanmar’s largest specialty coffee processor and exporter, and an integral part in its value supply chain, both influencing and being influenced by the farmers, processors, roasters and retailers all around Myanmar. Many of its members and shareholders have been involved in the industry for over twenty years, including U Kyaw Sein and his son, and are committed to specialty coffee excellence, sustainability, and a healthy, positive work and community environment. MCG are a group hug for the coffee world.
Although we’re bombarded with a never ending stream of content to consume – we are chuffed to bring you this tiny bit about Myanmar and to flesh out what you hear on the news in a way you can consume. Literally, viscerally, actually. We can’t wait for you to consume it!