Vietnam occupies the eastern portion of mainland Southeast Asia. Its land is divided into distinct regions due to a rich diversity in people, landscape, and climate. Due to its latitudinal length Vietnam spans three distinct climatic zones with subtropical humid climates in the North, monsoons in the Central regions and savannas in the South. This generates much distinction and variety in temperature, rainfall and microclimates, creating a home for the country’s varied ecosystems. Much of Vietnam’s frontier is coastal, with the Eastern shoreline outlooking the South China Sea. The West of Vietnam is bordered by Cambodia and Laos, with China neighbouring the Northern boundary.
Coffee was first introduced to Vietnam in 1857 by French Missionaries who cultivated Arabica varieties in the Northern provinces of the country. In the early 20th century Robusta coffee was also brought into cultivation by the French from the Congo and production expanded through the Central Highlands.
|Annual production:||25-33 million bags|
|Altitude range:||500 - 1200 masl|
|Harvest times:||October - March|
|Key growing regions:||Northwest Mountain Regions, Central Coastal and Highland Regions, and Southeastern Regions|
|Typical varieties:||Catimor, TRS1, TR14, TR15|
|Grading system:||Robusta Grading System|
|Processing type:||Washed and Natural|
Coffee was not historically a favoured crop, with many farmers preferring lowland crops such as rice for ease of cultivation. In 1986, however, the Vietnamese Government focused on developing coffee into a key agricultural export and supported state-owned and family farms to increase volumes. By the late 1990s Vietnam had emerged as the world’s second largest coffee producer and today coffee is recognised as the crop that solved much of the country’s problems with rural poverty. Coffee cultivation is still concentrated in the Central Provinces, but it is grown throughout the country from the Northern Mountainous regions of Son La and Dien Bien, to the Southeastern areas of Binh Phuoc and Dong Nai. Around 97% of Vietnam’s coffee is Robusta, of mainly high-yielding TR hybrid varieties developed by the Western Highlands Agriculture & Forestry Science Institute (WASI) in the 1990s. The remaining 3% is made up of the Arabica Catimor variety, which is grown mostly in the Lam Dong province in the Central Highlands. Most coffee is shade-grown grown by either smallholders or large plantations using diversified farming systems of intercropping or crop segregation. Vietnam’s farming system is characterised by private ownership (representing 95%) and state-ownership (the other 5%). During harvest, coffee is either mechanically strip-picked or hand-picked, with the ripest cherries being selected.
Coffee is processed either as a Natural (dried in the sun or using mechanical driers) or Washed, utilising any number of the wet mills scattered throughout the country’s coffee-growing regions. The Ministry for Agricultural and Rural Development (MARD) is the key ministry for coffee in Vietnam, with numerous sub-organisations overseeing and supporting various aspects of the coffee industry in Vietnam.