Sustainable Coffee

from the Upland Communities of Laos

Quality organic coffee direct from local communities

The UpLao Coffee Project aims to introduce sustainable coffee into rural UpLao communities. Our villages are well above 1000 m.a.s.l where we grow beans of the highest quality, well suitable for the specialty coffee markets.   We will guide the farmers through all steps of organic coffee production which will contribute to the overall agricultural output. To do so, the UpLao Coffee Project will set up a training center together with local authorities and a team of (inter)national coffee experts.

But, the UpLao Coffee Project will take an extra step. We actively work to establish sustainable market linkages and transparently share profits on equal terms. We’ll make sure their coffee beans make it directly to your cup, keeping the production chain as short as possible. Forget about the unrecognizable bulk of coffee you normally buy, soon you will get an exclusive taste of upland Laos

Rootbrand Coffee
rubber trees

The Challenge

Over the last few decades the landscape in northern Laos has been changing rapidly mainly under the influence of continual investments in plantation agriculture. Chinese entrepreneurs, deprived of economic opportunities in overcrowded southern China, are increasingly willing to venture across the border to a country where people are scarce and land is plentiful. 

Deforestation, soil degradation, chemical pollution, dependence of farmers on a single cash crop...  are just a few of the problems caused by these developments.

The Plan

There are examples of successful alternatives to monocropping and they are not far to be sought. Just across the border in northern Thailand, in an area very similar to northern Laos, coffee was introduced some fifteen years ago. Now, these areas have diversified their rural economies, growing coffee and other cash-crops like macadamia and Chinese plum. Simultaneously with the appearance of a real coffee culture in southeast Asia, these areas are flourishing as “hilltribe coffees” are enjoying great popularity. 

Working in Laos
Coffee cherries Laos

Local 

Uplao works directly with local communities, no middle man. Our goals are to provide an income and a new life to rural upland communities in laos, allowing them to learn the art of coffee growing.

Sustainable

Unlike destructive rubber plantation, coffee can provide a sustainable and high-profit alternative. By introducing and training communities in coffee growing we can provide a sustainable future.

Rootbrand

To market and promote Uplao Coffee Project, we sell our coffee through Rootbrand. This allows us to put the profits back into the hands of the farmers and local communities. 
Head over to www.rootbrandcoffee.com to order your Lao Coffee direct from the farmers. 
Rootbrand logo

So what is our detailed plan?

From start to finish, step by step

Uplao Minority Rural Village Northern Lao

The right way to do Coffee

Nowadays drinking coffee is about so much more than getting your daily shot of caffeine. Of course, you true coffee lovers care most of all about the high quality of your cup. But aren’t you also interested in where your coffee comes from? Wouldn’t you like to know the farmer behind your cup and learn about the way the beans are grown? The UpLao Coffee Project makes sure production and trade will be 100% transparent, so you can get a taste of its full identity!


The UpLao Coffee Project aims to grow beans of the highest quality, well suitable for the specialty coffee markets. Therefore we are not just providing the adjoined farmers with high quality coffee variations, but we will guide them through all steps of organic coffee production and teach them sustainable farming techniques. To do so, the UpLao Coffee Project will set up a training center together with local authorities and a team of (inter)national coffee experts.


But, the UpLao Coffee Project will take an extra step. We will share all profits on equal terms with the farmers and we will make sure coffee beans make it directly to your cup, keeping the production chain as short and transparent as possible. Forget about the unrecognizable bulk of coffee you normally buy, soon you will get an exclusive taste of upland Laos!

Coffee Nursery Working in Laos The team

Working with Locals

By the beginning of January in 2017 we will start arranging the plantations in Ban Namvang. We will start with the construction of the contours along which the rows of coffee will be planted. Also, the holes are dug, fertilized and indicated, so that the fields are ready for the young coffee plants to be planted in June. We will build an irrigation system that will provide the coffee plants with enough water during the dry season.The project will assign a field officer who will guide the farmers in setting up the plantations.

Initially we plan to grow three different varieties of coffea arabica: Katimor, Java and Typica. These varieties are recommended for this area. Of Katimor it is known that it is resistant to many diseases and produces good yields. Java Typica and give some lower revenues but deliver higher quality coffee. In the first three years we will bananas between the rows of coffee cultivation as this will sell well covered by the farmers and has a beneficial effect on the quality of the soil. Also we plan to plant ten rows of macadamia trees and orange trees per hectare approximately. With an interval of 15 meter there fast growing native trees will be planted, which function as shadow plants. This particular species is also very popular as a firewood for the locals. After three years the plantations will start to produce its first coffee. Macadamia and fruit trees will give fruit after 5 years. The project expects that the annual income will rise from well below €1,000 per year to €2,500 in 2020 to well above €4,500 in 2025. This is almost 3 times the average income in Lao PDR. We start off with 8 farmer households each providing 1 hectare and we assume an annual growth of at least 5 farming families in this village alone expecting the maximum of 55 household in 2027. All farmers will be organised in a farmers’ collective which will oversee all activities, managing budget and speak out for the interest of the farmers’ interests.

Estimated cost of Coffee Project

Processing Facility

After three years the plantations will start to produce its first coffee. In order to distract the coffee seeds (or beans) from the fruits (berries), the coffee needs to be processed by machine. This means we need to set up a processing facility by 2020. In the harvest season from November to February there are fresh coffee berries collected by hand on a daily base which will be processed by a permanent staff of four people, including a manager, a mechanic and a driver who transports the coffee berries from the plantations to the factory. We will assign a coffee expert who will train government staff, farmers and factory staff in the art of breeding, cultivation and processing to the necessary requirements needed to eventually carry the organic and fairtrade labels.

The coffee from UpLao will be transported to Europe and sold at the Dutch specialty market. For this we want to partner up with a roaster in the Netherlands. For this we have several options open. The coffee will be sold under a Fair Chain principle, meaning we will keep the production chain as open and short as possible. All profit will be shared on equal terms with the farmers’ collective.

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