Myanmar has a long relationship with coffee that started in 1885 when missionaries began cultivating coffee plants. It has since then taken off and become one of the largest sustainable crops in the country. Myanmar not only produces significant amounts of high grade Arabica coffee, but also a large amount of lower grade Robusta. In fact, about two-thirds of the annual crops are Arabica, and the remaining is Robusta.
More than 300 tons of coffee were seen being produced annually by the 2000’s, with about 80 percent of the crops being grown on smaller farms. The coffee industry in Myanmar has long been unsteady, unfortunately, due to political unrest and civil rights issues. However, in recent years it has been seeing a steadily growing coffee acreage, with most of the growth taking place the the Northern Myanmar region as this region has shown to have the most potential for growing high quality Arabica due to its high elevation, rich red soil, and ample amount of rainfall. U.S. AID grant money has also been a large help for the industry.
The coffee processing methods used are considered somewhat rudimentary, with the bean dried within the cherry and then hulled using a pounding method. However, it certainly gets the job done well as the end product is something to behold. Myanmar coffee’s typically have a very strong and oily body, often featuring earthy, herbal, and garlic notes. These coffees have also been found to perform very well as a dark roast, and are increasingly being used by roasters as a base for their espresso blends.
Key Myanmar Coffee Profile Notes
Varietals: Arabica, Robusta
General Cup Profile: Strong, oily, earthy, herbal, garlic
Grow Regions: Northern and southern regions