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.