Coffee: Myanmar Washed Arabica, Green Land SL-34 Mandalay
Roast Recommendation: Light to Medium. Medium Dark is the suggested limit
Cupping Notes: Nice consistency but with soft intensity. Mealy red apple character with some chocolate and black tea tones.
Main Producing Region: Shan State, Mandalay
Processing Methods: WAshed and Natural
Genetic Varieties: S-795, Catimor, SL34, Catuai 11, Blue Mountain, Gesha
Coffee was first introduced to Myanmar (formerly Burma) in 1885 by British colonists. Commercial production didn’t take off at first, and when the British left the coffee business went into a kind of enforced hibernation. The bulk of the coffee grown here during that time made its way across borders to China, Laos and Thailand via “unofficial” transactions.
For the next fifty years or so, the coffee trade inched along on a fairly limited scale. Over the last several years, however, several organizations have begun to put more focus on the coffee trade as the Myanmar economy has opened up. Private entities and NGOs have been working with growers to improve agronomy and harvesting practices, and investments in milling and education have brought about the birth of a true specialty coffee business in the country.
The climate in Myanmar’s highlands – hot days, cool nights – lends itself well to coffee cultivation. Given the relative predictability of very, very dry and hot weather during harvest season, it is particularly well suited to natural processing, though a significant amount of washed coffee is also produced. Currently, Myanmar produces about 7,500 tons of coffee annually, 80% of which is Arabica.
Mandalay and Shan State produce the majority of the coffee in Myanmar. In Mandalay, most of the farmers own large estates, and produce washed coffee. Shan State producers are almost exclusively smallholders, most of whom own less than a hectare of land, and produce natural process coffees. Only about 60% of the coffee is exported, and it primarily goes to China, South Korea, Malaysia, and Japan.
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