These very special coffees come from smallholder Arabica producers living within the Central Highlands of Vietnam, known as the K’No people. Characterised by their local language, the K’No people are one of many ethnic minorities in Vietnam.
Dung K’No is a commune of around 500 households, for whom the main source of income is agriculture. For many families, coffee farming is the only source of cash earnings. Other crops may include rice, maize vegetables and fruit trees such as bananas and peaches; however, these are mainly reserved for personal consumption. Similarly, small scale farming of pigs, chicken and cattle are kept to provide sustenance.
Catimor was originally chosen for its adaptation to local climate & altitude, as well as its resistance to coffee leaf rust and coffee cherry diseases. More recently, however, the Vietnamese government has started to recommend locally selected alternatives to Catimor, unknown to the global market which could mean exciting new coffee varieties for the specialty coffee market in the future.
Farmers in the region are accustomed to pulping and sun-drying their own parchment. Drawbacks to this system, in addition to the labour required, are that the infrastructure is highly variable and often quite rustic. Furthermore, the weather in the region is highly unpredictable due to the mountains’ influence, and showers can rapidly deteriorate the drying product, resulting in mouldy and fermented coffee. In order to preserve the improved quality resulting from careful cultivation and harvesting, this coffee is centrally processed at a wet mill, where processing is managed with a scrupulous eye to detail and quality control.