What are the opportunities, benefits in celebrating Laos’ coffee culture?

International Coffee Day (October 1) celebrates the popular aromatic brew with events all around the world. It also aims to promote fair trade coffee and raise awareness about the plight of coffee growers. To mark the day, the Northern Uplands Development Programme (NUDP) in Laos held an event in the capital last weekend under the theme ‘Women in Coffee’. Vientiane Times asked participants including industry players and café owners for views on the benefits and opportunities of the celebration.

 

Mr Khamsone Sysanhouth, a leader of the Lao Coffee culture programme: The event aims to gather people who love coffee together in the same place. Everybody gets to know more about each variety of real coffee and see the development of Lao coffee which is gaining a growing reputation for quality. Coffee has been a part of our culture and livelihoods since war world two. Some people have wondered why the event theme is ‘Women in Coffee’. It’s because we recognise the significance of women’s role in coffee. The event is also one of the activities for Visit Laos Year 2018. Moreover, it’s encouraging Lao people to drink local coffee and getting more people involved in growing and processing coffee.

Ms Viengdara Phommchack, owner of August Cafe and Bakery shop in Sikhottabong district: I’m very pleased to have been invited to participate in this event because I’m sure that everyone will profit from it. For instance, many coffee shops in Vientiane have come together here to share their product knowledge and techniques in roasting coffee beans which will help our industry progress together. This knowledge will help me improve and develop my coffee shop.

Mr Vilaylack Khounvisith, an official at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry: It’s great to have this event promoting a local Lao product, such as honey, coffee beans, rice which can all be produced in the country’s northern region. Some people believe that coffee can only be grown in the south but it can grow in the north of Laos too and there is good information available at this event for those interested in planting coffee.

Ms Jinda, a staff member of Comma Coffee in Sikhottabong district: Of course it’s nice to meet many baristas at this event and we can share steps with each other on how to make the perfect cup of coffee. We are sharing a lot of technical information and tasting the coffee of other participants.

Mr Khamphor Khongsomboun, a lecturer at the National University of Laos: It’s my first time at this event and I think it’s very useful for both consumers and those in the coffee business. Café owners and coffee labels get to promote their products and customers get to sample delicious cups of coffee.

Mr Khambone Phasouk, Technical Advisor of Reinforcement and Expansion of Coffee Sector in Laos (RECoSeL): I feel really proud when I see this event up and running. The government needs to allow us to manage the event like this again next year. If it’s possible, I’d like them to arrange a larger venue for us to allow for more participants.

Ms Chanmanyphet Itthiphone, owner of A2 House Bakery in Xaysettha district: I would like relevant authorities or government to hold this event at least once a month because it will bolster our business by encouraging more Lao people to use local products.

Mr Thiphachanh Phoumarath, team leader of the Lao coffee culture program: We organised the event in order to create public awareness, not for profit but to inspire Lao people to realise the importance of real quality coffee. It is also recognising the essential role women play in the ongoing development of the local coffee industry.

Ms Aluna Thavonsouk, a well-known Lao singer: At first I wondered why at this event every one needed only a 500 kip note to purchase a cup of coffee. Then I saw the image of women picking coffee beans on the banknote and I realised it acts as a way of respecting our cultural property and recognising the importance of Laos’ symbols.

By Phouthong Sivongsa
(Latest Update October 03, 2018)


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