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Excitement Brewing for Coffee Producer

Some people may joke that their life is nothing without coffee.

But for Daw Shwe Wah Soe – this is not that far from the truth.

Daw Shwe Wah Soe graduated from university with an agricultural major in 1985. At the time, she knew very little about how coffee went from bean to beverage.

“I never thought that I would become a coffee producer,” she told Weekend.

But this changed in 1999 when Daw Shwe Wah Soe decided to start a coffee farm in Pyin Oo Lwin. The crop has been growing around this part of Myanmar since the 1800s.

Coffee was not a big business in Myanmar back then. This was a time when the then-government was trying to allocate lands for coffee farming. But without proper knowledge of coffee processing and a lack of technical instruction, many coffee farms failed.

Daw Shwe Wah Soe had her own problems. “At first, I faced lots of difficulties. I didn’t know much about quality or quantity. I didn’t even have a local market to sell. Everything started from the bottom.”

Add to this the fact that Myanmar people drank far more tea than coffee.

But fast forward a few decades and her property now has more than 80 acres growing coffee beans.

Her company Great Ever Top One Co Ltd currently manages four businesses: Moegyoe Coffee Farm, Coffee Cherry, U.V.Win Management Center and Mother Ayeyarwaddy Publishing House.

Under the Coffee Cherry branding, she produces three types of coffee products: roasted coffee beans, finely-ground coffee and a three-in-one coffee. All products are made from Arabica coffee.

Two-thirds of the annual coffee crop in Myanmar is Arabica with most of the remainder being Robusta.

“Lots of people like coffee but don’t actually know what kind of coffee they have,” Daw Shwe Wah Soe said. “They don’t know about Robusta or Arabica or others. They just drink.”

She explained that Robusta coffee is suitable for making instant coffee as it can easily dissolve in hot water but for those who love pure coffee, Arabica is more highly recommended.

Big plans are afoot at Coffee Cherry, with a coffee factory now under construction which will be ready to open after Thingyan. The factory will grind roasted beans into finer coffee powder.

Moreover, she is planning to produce Robusta coffee this year.

Daw Shwe Wah Soe is convinced the boom years for Myanmar coffee could be just around the corner. But some changes are needed.

“We need to give a good price to the coffee farmers if Myanmar wants to cultivate more coffee. And also we need to improve techniques for coffee processing from planting and picking to producing the final product as well as financing and marketing.”

“Some farmers are looking at new market opportunities. But some farmers from the high mountains, like in Chin State, are still selling coffee to foreign dealers for a very low price. It’s bad for them and for the country.”

There’s been some positive signs. Ywar Ngan Coffee in Shan State was recently given Geographic Indication (GI) – which signifies specific geographic origin and qualities. And Ywar Ngan Coffee is now exporting to the US, which has one of the highest coffee drinking rates in the world.

Daw Shwe Wah Soe’s dream is to assist farmers in far-flung regions of the country improve and increase coffee cultivation.

She’s taken a step in this direction, writing a book about her nearly 20-year experience in the Myanmar coffee industry. This will be published later in 2017.

And one day – Daw Shwe Wah Soe hopes very soon – a cup of Myanmar coffee will be a staple in cafes from New York to Paris to London.

 

Source: Myanmar Times

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