Lanna Coffee’s story can be traced back over 55 years to Richard and Marlene Mann who are considered Thailand’s coffee pioneers. Richard and Marlene came to Thailand in 1959 with the goal of seeing Thai highland villages become self-sustainable and free from the oppression of the drug cartels and human traffickers that inhabited the area. The solution came in the form of a coffee plant.
The Manns (with Richard’s son, Mike) started an organization called The Integrated Tribal Development Program (ITDP), which slowly began working one village at a time, with the hope of eventually freeing all of northern Thailand of poverty. Today, over 25 villages are growing coffee, and all crops are owned 100% by the villagers. Lanna Coffee Co works alongside ITDP and the villagers to purchase that coffee, often paying beyond the Fair Trade value. This allows villagers to be self-sustainable while Lanna Coffee Co works to further support the cause by offering this specialty coffee to the U.S. market.
Lanna Coffee is passionate about the cause of helping hill tribe people achieve a better life. Every green coffee they purchase provides economic stability for the hill tribe farmers of northern Thailand and their families. Additionally, 25% of Lanna Coffee Company’s profits are used to provide educational and medical opportunities and to provide infrastructure like clean water to the hill tribes. It is this holistic approach that supports our claim of providing great coffee with an even greater purpose.*
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Artisan Roast, from Lanna Coffee Company in Fresno, California. Feel free to pull up a chair.
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Integrated Tribal Development Program
elevation: 1100 – 1280 meters above sea level
process: fully washed, patio dried
My first few sips from this cup immediately post-brew follow the nose, but the flavor is way more intense than the aroma. This is a relatively full-bodied coffee, with a thick, chewy, molasses-like mouthfeel. It’s also a massively “organic” tasting coffee. There isn’t a great overarching term that I can think of to serve as a catch-all for all of the individual flavors I’m tasting (if you can think of something better, please let me know in the comments below!), so “organic” will do for now.
This coffee tastes like a walk through the woods after a heavy rain: it’s earthy, musty and damp, vegetal, herbal, spicy, nutty, and woody. There are a lot of individual nuances going on, so please bear with me: earth, soil, raw onion, tree bark, black pepper, clove, roasted peanut shell, anise, black licorice, leather, soy sauce… It’s not all so abrasive, though; beneath all of that are some subtle flavors of burnt caramel, black cherry, and a very mellow grapefruit acidity.
Full body; molasses mouthfeel; citric acidity; dry finish.
I’m the type of consumer that loves to try new things and have new experiences. When I’m in the market for a coffee to sample, for example, I first look for roasters I’ve never bought from, then for regions I’m not familiar with. Having never tried coffee from Thailand (and having never tried coffee from Lanna Coffee Company), I had to pick this one up.
While Lanna Coffee Company’s Artisan Roast wasn’t particularly the coffee for me, it was an incredibly complex, wild and funky coffee that provided my palate an experience it had never had before. This cup was so earthy, savory, herbal, musty, and floral, while also having some fruity nuances; it was like a Sumatra, but to the nth degree.
While I wouldn’t necessarily say that the cupping was a pleasant experience, it was certainly a learning experience. If you’re in the market for something new and wild, Lanna’s Artisan Roast might be the one for you.
*content provided by Lanna Coffee Company
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.