Krabi has many, many wonderful secrets but is coffee one of those on this already expansive list? Yes!
Only 70 kilometers from Ao Nang is the home of a local coffee producer and roaster, Klong Thom Coffee. A family run business for over 20 years with exports all over the kingdom of Thailand, their major markets are in Bangkok and Krabi, but the future holds plans to go international.
This past month Krabi Magazine took the journey by motorbike to visit these friendly people and peak into the inner workings of roasting coffee.
Arriving at their main office in Klong Thom, we are hit with the scent of freshly brewed coffee permeating the air. Around a large wooden table sits three owners -a husband, wife and their daughter- who eagerly offer us a cup of their most recent roast. We gladly accept as it was only 2pm and our morning cup had already started to wear off. Taking a sip, the smack of bitter black burned energy jolted our drooping eyes open! Curious to know why the coffee is so strong, they all answer in unison, “Robusta!” Robusta is the majority bean type produced at Klong Thom Coffee, which is a stronger bean than its counterpart Arabica. It also has a slightly more bitter taste and a higher caffeine content.
Robusta has been marketed as an inferior bean to Arabica for some time now as Arabica is smoother tasting, but it lacks that extra jolt of energy that Robusta packs. After trying a cup, we coffee addicts were sold.
After gulping down a few cups of local product we visited the roasting and packaging area, located down the street in another building. After touring the premises, they ires up the roaster and we watched from start to finish how a batch of freshly roasted coffee is made. The roaster is a small, restricting batches to ten kilogram amounts. Each batch takes approximately 15-20 minutes, turning around in the metal drum all the while the beans expanding dramatically as they absorb the heat and are lightly cooked.
The staff opens the drum front door and the smoking beans pour out, entering into the mixing and cooling stages where the hot beans from the small batches are blended together, giving them a more uniform taste and roast.
Afterwards, the beans are moved to the packaging area, where they are weighed and packaged for their destinations all over Thailand.
After spending some time with these coffee experts, we come to know some interesting facts about this amazing black bean.
- It takes three-to-four years for a coffee seed to grow into a tree that produces coffee beans.
- Seeds are first planted in nurseries. Six months to one year later, seedlings are transplanted to open fields. Workers must prepare the planting ground for the small seedlings by loosening and grading the soil.
- Approximately two-and-a-half years after transplantation, the trees begin to flower and the flowers produce a small fruit known as a coffee cherry. In the center of each cherry are two green coffee beans.
- Coffee plants grow best where there is plenty of rainfall at certain times of the year, and thrive in a well-drained, rich soil. The plant does not like sudden changes in temperature, and frost can severely damage or kill it.
- During harvest, coffee cherries are hand picked. It takes approximately 2,000 cherries—4,000 beans—to produce one pound of roasted coffee.
- After being husked, sorted and bagged, the green coffee beans are shipped from the countries where they were grown to the countries where they will be manufactured and consumed. Klong Thom Coffee hopes to be one of these international exporters one day.
- Manufacturing involves the roasting and grinding of the coffee beans, or the production of instant coffee. Once manufacturing and packaging are completed, the coffee is ready for the consumer.
- The leading coffee producing countries of the world are Brazil and Colombia. The United States imports and consumes more coffee than any other country.
Funny enough, Klong Thom Coffee is actually not very popular in Krabi so you will not find this coffee on the shelves in Makro or Tesco Lotus or any other supermarkets. It’s well worth a taste though. Contact Klong Thom coffee directly by visiting their website.
By Joe Alonzo