Tuesday, 29th December 2015
Everything you need to know about coffee in Laos
Us Brits love our coffee and it can sometimes be a nit hit or miss when travelling abroad as to whether you’ll get a decent cup. Even places that grow a lot of coffee sometimes export it all overseas meaning there is little left for the domestic market. Luckily, this is not the case in Laos where a good cup of Joe is easy to hunt down.
Coffee in Laos, much like its pastries, is the result of the French, who planted the crop when it was a colony around a century ago. It has gone on to become the fifth largest export from the country, but is also becoming more widely appreciated throughout Laos.
Coffee growing regions
As coffee grows best at a high elevation, the Bolaven Plateau was chosen in the 1920s as the perfect location for the crop. It can be found in the south of Laos, close to the border with Vietnam and is spread across the Saravan, Champasak and Sekong provinces. The volcanic red soil adds to the conditions that allow the plants to thrive.
Some coffee is also grown in other parts of Laos with the Saffron Coffee initiative seeing it produced by hill tribes in the north of the country. Situated at around 800 metres above sea level on the plateaus of Luang Prabang, these beans are wet processed.
Types of coffee
Robusta and Liberica coffee are both grown in Laos, along with the increasingly popular Arabica beans. The proportion of the latter is going up, as a drive for more gourmet coffee varieties is established.
Coffee in Laos is brewed strong and in a way that many people from the West have never seen before. It involves a cloth filter that looks somewhat like a sock, but works extremely well as preventing the grinds from ended up in the finished beverage. The strong taste of the coffee is normally mitigated with a combination of powdered, condensed and evaporated milk, giving it a distinctive taste.
Coffee culture in Vientiane
For those looking for a great cup of coffee in Laos, there is nowhere better than Vientiane. The city has embraced the bean and has a wide selection of options. Check out one of the following during your stay:
Naked Espresso – Two branches in Vientiane, including one on Dongpayna Road, serves single origin Lao beans, as well as a Lao-Thai blend. Expect Western style coffees, such as flat whites and cappuccinos.
Vientiane Coffee Shop – head here for an authentic cup of Laotian coffee brewed in the traditional way and filtered through the distinctive cloth, before being finished off with milky accompaniments.
Le Trio Coffee – the perfect place to pick up a bag of beans to take home as a souvenir or gift. Owned by a French proprietor who knows his stuff, this tiny establishment can be sniffed out by its enticing aroma alone.
Related news stories:
What to know before you go to Laos (23rd April 2015)
Why has Laotian food not been widely exported to the rest of the world? (2nd April 2015)
The Laos reading list (6th October 2015)
10 reasons to make Laos your next destination (16th September 2015)