Video: Tasting the first specialty coffee from Myanmar

By Naki B. Mendoza, Julie Espinosa 30 September 2016

via YouTube

While a daily cup of morning Joe might make every day a coffee day, Oct. 1 has been officially designated International Coffee Day by the International Coffee Association, an intergovernmental organization.

“International Coffee Day is a global celebration of coffee’s journey from the farm to your local shop — an opportunity to honor the men and women who grow and harvest the coffee we love,” the ICA says.

An estimated 80 percent of the world’s coffee is produced by about 25 million smallholder farmers, the majority of whom are spread across the developing world.

Their incomes and livelihoods are vulnerable to fluctuations in the global coffee market, where prices are often determined by supplies from industrial coffee farms or financial commodity trading, factors far beyond their control.

To differentiate their product and offer a higher-value crop, smallholder coffee farmers have been turning to specialty coffee varieties.

Myanmar's journey to specialty coffee and its lessons for smallholder farmers

Myanmar is set to export its first volumes of specialty coffee to the United States. As the demand for premium coffee grows, smallholder coffee farmers may need to shift to a new set of best practices.

Myanmar is one of the latest countries to adopt this practice, and in August the first-ever specialty coffee supplies from the Southeast Asian nation became available for sale in the U.S.

The coffee was grown by smallholder farmers under an agricultural training program by the U.S. Agency for International Development and Winrock International, a development consultancy.

The inaugural sales are significant because of the new economic opportunities they create for coffee farmers who are paid higher premiums by specialty distributors. The farming techniques they employ to produce the specialty grade can also be modeled by smallholders elsewhere in the world who are looking to reap similar gains.

Devex attended the Aug. 19 launch event of Myanmar’s first-ever specialty coffee in the U.S. Check out the video to see how coffee aficionados describe its taste and the process that went into its production.

Join Devex to network with peers, discover talent and forge new partnerships in international development — it’s free. Then sign up for the Devex Impact newsletter to receive cutting-edge news and analysis at the intersection of business and development.

About the authors

Naki mendoza 400x400
Naki B. Mendozamfbmendoza

Naki is a former reporter for Devex Impact based in Washington, D.C., where he covered the intersection of business and international development. Prior to Devex he was a Latin America reporter for Energy Intelligence covering corporate investments and political risks in the region’s energy sector. His previous assignments abroad have posted him throughout Europe, South America and Australia.


Espinosa julie
Julie Espinosa

Julie Espinosa is Devex's video producer, covering humanitarian aid, sustainable development and global health. Prior to joining Devex, Julie worked in documentary film production in Austin, Texas. She holds a master's degree in communications and cultural studies from Georgetown University and a bachelor's in visual arts from Harvard University.


Join the Discussion