Sun, Apr 21, 2013 - Page 14 News List

Tech-savvy Vietnam coffee farmers brew global takeover

Vietnam, the world’s second-largest coffee producer, is known more for its quantity than quality, but a number of farmers are working to change that image

By Cat Barton  /  AFP, BUON MA THUOT, Vietnam

The founder of home-grown coffee giant Trung Nguyen — which has 55 stores in Vietnam and five in Singapore — is passionate about putting Vietnam’s robusta coffee on the map.

“Robusta is not lower quality. It’s just that globally, people have learned to drink arabica coffee,” Vu said in an interview at the Trung Nguyen Village in Buon Ma Thuot.

A big part of the company’s work is to improve the quality of local beans, working with farmers to introduce high-tech irrigation, reduce pesticide use and boost their income.

Trung Nguyen already exports to 60 countries and Vu said Starbucks’ recent arrival in his homeland had increased his determination to open cafes in the US offering Vietnam’s traditional style of thick, strong coffee brewed in individual drip filters.

“We must be able to surpass Starbucks. We must offer something more attractive for US consumers,” Vu said.

“I want the world to understand that Vietnamese coffee is the best, the cleanest, most special coffee,” he said.

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