I love coffee. The loud crunching sound of the coffee grinder and the long zishes of the steamer on large Italian espresso machines are the same all over the world. As are the smell of freshly ground roasted coffee beans, the mild taste of a good espresso and the firm foam of a soya cappuccino: somehow comforting and satisfying.
On the menu of my favourite breakfast café Da Bakery in the old city of Chiang Mai I saw “Hilltribe Coffee”. I asked what this was and learnt that in the seventies, a Royal Project Foundation was established to help the hill tribes of Northern Thailand by offering them alternatives to growing opium poppies, of which coffee was one. However thousands of the finest coffee trees were abandoned or cut down as many of the small and most remote farmers , who produced the best beans, had no market to sell their raw coffee beans.
Today, more and more small fair trade and organic enterprises work together with these remote farmers and purchase the small amounts of coffee, blend and roast it and sell it to coffee shops and little cafés. Like my breakfast café.