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$50 for a cup of Chiang Mai coffee?

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From Nikkei Asia

DENIS GRAY, Contributing writer

CHIANG MAI, Thailand -- The buzz of espresso machines, a wake-up aroma of fresh brews, bustling baristas at roadside stalls and cafes that would make London or Rome proud: Welcome to Chiang Mai, where this is a typical morning scene in Thailand's capital of coffee.

Chiang Mai and coffee make an ideal marriage. The northern Thai city is girt by mountains ideally suited for growing the crop and peopled largely by ethnic minority highlanders who have eagerly embraced its cultivation to lift themselves out of poverty. It has also become a base for young entrepreneurs working to overcome challenges ranging from improving quality and boosting exports to countering the effects of climate change.

Fuadi Pitsuwan, co-founder of Beanspire Coffee, a local producer and exporter, argues that the biggest hurdles for Thai farmers are "shedding the reputation for cheap, low-end coffee, and secondly, crossing the barrier between being a country that produces good-quality coffee and a world-class producing country that is known for the best specialty coffee."

Nonetheless, the opening chapters of Thailand's evolving story of coffee make for encouraging reading. Both production and exports have been on the rise in recent years, with 30,000 tons produced in 2021, of which about 60% originated in the north. About 14,100 tons were exported for sale by foreign fans like Hiro Yamamoto, a Japanese businessman who prizes the uniqueness of Thai coffee.

A 45% tariff on imports has limited competition in Thai cafes, keeping domestic prices relatively high. But Chiang Mai's coffee outlets rarely disappoint devotees. They may head, for example, to Ristr8to, whose owner Arnon Thitiprasert traveled to 30 countries to soak up the coffee business and culture. For "European Renaissance" decor, drinkers can try Versailles de flore.

Minimalism and specialty brews are on offer at The Baristro, on the banks of the city's Ping River. Meanwhile, thanks to Black Ivory Coffee Co., exotica seekers can purchase beans plucked from the feces of elephants in Chiang Mai province. Jokingly called "crappuccino," this brew is no laughing matter. Blake Dinkin, the company's founder, says his product is the most expensive coffee in the world, costing more than $50 a serving locally, compared with as little as $2 for a decent highland brand.

While some categorize "elephant poop" coffee as a novelty, it has developed an enthusiastic following overseas. Black Ivory is exported to 30 countries and Dinkin says he is looking for a reliable partner in Japan, which he believes has "great potential" as a market.



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3 hours ago, Riobard said:

$50, for java that came out of an animal’s arsehole, Mr Dinkin? Now those are what I call parasitic prices. Stop dinkin’ me around.

Switch to 3 on 1 and you hardly notice difference in taste but prominently in the pocket.

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8 hours ago, vinapu said:

I know what you mean, it was supposed to be 3 in 1 but autocorrector intervened I guess


That’s cute and clever. Do you have a link to this so-called autocorectal app? Or does one simply wander around with something prominent in one’s pocket? 

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On 5/26/2023 at 9:32 PM, Keithambrose said:

Some years ago Selfridge's sold coffee beans passed  through a civet cat for £200 a packet.....

I tried it in Indonesia, it's scaled luwak coffee, jut good coffee, noting more than that. Logic is that animal is picking up the best beans

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