Welcome to Pha Deng Luang

Where Red Cliff Coffee is grown and processed

As we like to say, your coffee has a story, and it begins here in a rural mountain village, on hillsides overlooking the gorgeous valleys and undulating hills of Chiang Rai province.

Highland Coffee Plantation in Chiang Rai

Red Cliff Coffee is grown in the highlands of Chiang Rai Province. It’s located Wawi sub-district, a region well-known for Thailand Arabica coffee. Our operation is based in a small village of about 100 households, and arriving involves heading deep into the mountains before leaving the road and driving 8 km on unpaved roads.

This rural Thailand at its finest. Local farmers grow their own food, raise livestock and sell their surplus to processors or in local markets. Over the past 10 years, coffee has become increasingly popular. Villagers appreciate the return on investment it offers, as well as the fact that there’s no need to replant year after year. Growing coffee allows them to earn a stable income while spending less time in their fields and more time with their families.

Processing Freshly Picked Thai Coffee

Old-World farming practices are still very much alive in this part of Thailand. Electricity was only introduced in 2015, and was the result of years of hard work and petitioning on behalf of the village leaders.

During the annual coffee harvest, farmers rise with the sun, prepare breakfast and send their children off to the village school before heading up to their fields. Some drive in four-wheel drive trucks; others ramble along the dirt roads on motorbikes. A few even saddle up their packhorses for the journey. It takes at about 30 minutes to walk from the village to the nearest coffee fields.

The coffee is harvested by hand, allowing the pickers to select only the ripe, red coffee beans. Beans that are still green are left to ripen, while overripe beans are either discarded or used for seed. In one day, one person can pick around 100 kg of fresh coffee cherry – and some can do quite a bit more than that.

Old-World farming practices are still very much alive in this part of Thailand.

The coffee cherry is loaded into burlap sacks, which are stacked at the edge of the field until the end of the day when they’re carried down to the village. It’s important to us that we begin processing the coffee on the same day it’s picked, to ensure optimal flavor. Most Thailand coffee isn’t treated with this level of care of respect, and that’s one of the reasons that you can taste the difference when you brew a cup of Red Cliff Coffee.

This is one of the Akha hiltribe farmers picking coffee in Chiang Rai. Photo credit: Omesh Persaud.

Akha hilltribe farmer picking Thai coffee at Pha Deng Luang

Our Thai coffee is sun-dried on bamboo racks in Pha Deng Luang. Photo credit: Omesh Persaud.

Bamboo Racks for Drying Coffee in Thailand

This Akha hilltribe farmer transports his coffee by packhorse from his fields where it is harvested down to the village where he lives.

Photo credit: Omesh Persaud.

Man Returning to Village with Coffee on Horseback

A few farmers even saddle up their packhorses for the journey.

Sun-Dried Coffee in Thailand

Back in the village, the coffee is run through a machine called a pulper, which separates the cherry-like fruit from the seed. The seeds are then fermented in pools of fresh, mountain spring water until the sugars have broken down.

While the beans are fermenting, we employ special techniques to remove less-than-premium beans from the rest of the coffee. Next, the freshly washed beans are loaded onto bamboo drying racks and dried in the sun for the next several days.

Thai Coffee with an Intriguing Story

The next time you enjoy a cup of Red Cliff Coffee, consider where it came from. From the highlands of Chiang Rai, shipped directly to your door – your coffee really does have a story.

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