Local economy

Dak Lak Province – The Capital of Vietnamese Coffee

Dak Lak Province in the Central Highlands of Vietnam is called the “capital” of Vietnamese coffee because there are boundless green coffee fields on the local basaltic hills which are always full of wind and sunshine. The area is known for many coffee brands, which are not only famous at home, but also exported to more than 80 countries and territories throughout the world.
Visitors to Dak Lak Province will get their first impression of the resources here by the presence of hundreds of coffee shops with different architectural designs, and boundless green coffee hills. Domestic or foreign visitors to Dak Lak are often informed by the local Central Highlanders: “If you haven’t drunk Dak Lak coffee, it means you have not yet visited the location considered the capital of Vietnamese coffee.”
Coffee growing has been a long term business in Dak Lak Province with varieties of coffee strains having been planted. These include arabica, robusta and liberica, of which robusta is the most popular. Many specialists have acknowledged that robusta fits well in the local climate and basaltic soil.
In recent years, Dak Lak coffee growers and traders have been well aware of improving the quality of coffee. They have paid attention to investing in the farms with the goal of sustainable development and in processing coffee beans with international standards.

For many years, coffee trees have helped improve the life of the Ede ethnic people in Dak Lak in particular and other ethnic groups in Tay Nguyen in general. Photo: Kim Phuong

A robusta garden in Dak Lak. Photo: Kim Phuong

Foreign tourists visit a coffee farm in Dak Lak. Photo: File

Harvesting coffee. Photo: File

Drying coffee. Photo: Huu Thanh

Roasting coffee by machine. Photo: Kim Phuong

An automatic coffee packing line. Photo: Kim Phuong

Part of a packing workshop at Trung Nguyen Coffee Plant. Photo: Kim Phuong

Loading coffee for shipping. Photo: Kim Phuong

Introducing Trung Nguyen coffee to a customer. Photo: File

Creating new flavours. Photo: File

Making filtered coffee. Photo: Huu Thanh

Dak Lak coffee is famous for its delicious taste and aroma. Photo: File

Enjoying Dak Lak coffee together. Photo: Huu Thanh

There are now 30 State-run coffee businesses operating in Dak Lak Province. They have applied the technology of a wet coffee processing system, the world’s most state-of-the-art technology at present, aimed at improving the coffee quality for export. The Western Highlands Agro-Forestry Scientific and Technical Institute (WASI) has sorted coffee varieties by picking the clone varieties which yield high output and big beans. This meets the norms for export and the beans are resistant to the disease of Hemileia vastatrix Bet. Br.
According to WASI Director, Dr. Le Ngoc Bau, the institute has carried out research and cross-bred and sorted successfully nine varieties of robusta coffee with a high output from 4.2 tonnes to 7 tonnes of beans per hectare. This produces over 65% with a high quality, big bean of Grade 1, thus increasing competitiveness in the world market. WASI has also built nursing gardens to grow clone robusta strains, which have been approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Thanks to qualified coffee strains, the targeted coffee growing districts of Krong Pak, Krong Buk, Krong Nang, Ea H’Leo and Cu M’Gar have increased their coffee output, providing jobs and bringing a stable income for thousands of households.
Besides expanding activities to provide information to the farmers and businesses to improve harvests and apply advanced techniques to coffee production and processing, Dak Lak Province held coffee festivals and related events such as the 1st and 2nd Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Festival in 2005 and in 2008 respectively, and the Coffee Cultural Week in 2007. The 3rd Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Festival was held on March 10th – 13th, 2011, which aimed at promoting, providing information and expanding the markets for Vietnamese coffee. Many interesting events were held such as introducing models of coffee farms, the culture of drinking coffee, the re-production of coffee production steps, consultation and discussion on coffee-related issues, a photo exhibition on coffee and artistic performances with Tay Nguyen cultural themes. For those who are interested in coffee production, the festival is a good opportunity to learn about the history, culture and flavour of coffee and the secret of making and drinking famous coffees, including Dak Lak coffee. All of the above-mentioned events are aimed at increasing the economic as well as the spiritual value of coffee, making it become a cultural drink of special significance for billions of coffee lovers all over the world
With the idea of building Buon Ma Thuot into a global capital of coffee, Trung Nguyen Coffee Share-Holding Company has used Dak Lak coffee as its brand name to attract attention around the world. This manifests two principles of coffee spirit, creation and sustainability, based on the eco-urban development with Tay Nguyen’s unique culture. To achieve this goal, Dak Lak Province will concentrate on developing high-quality coffee production and processing by upgrading comprehensively the coffee industry. They want to build a modern agricultural system ensuring a clean environment that is able to cope with climate change.
Famous Dak Lak coffee brands such as Trung Nguyen, Thang Loi and An Thai with their unique Vietnamese flavour have won the taste tests of many coffee lovers throughout the world. This has helped Dak Lak Province expand its consumption market and contribute to increasing the country’s amount of coffee beans for export to over 1 million tonnes per year. Vietnam is ranked second among coffee exporters in the world, with robusta coffee being the most popular.
“At present in Dak Lak Province there are more than 184,000ha of land under coffee cultivation with an annual output of over 400,000 tonnes. The export turnover is more than 600 million USD per year, accounting for 90% of the province’s export turnover and more than 40% of the country’s coffee export turnover.”

(Ly Thanh Tung, Director of Dak Lak Province’s Centre for the Promotion of Trade, Investment and Tourism)
In December 2005, the trade brand “Buon Ma Thuot Coffee” (Buon Ma Thuot City in Dak Lak Province) was recognized by the Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology as one of Vietnam’s three trade brands under copyright protection.
Story: Nguyen Vu Thanh Dat
Photos: Huu Thanh – Kim Phuong – File

Story: Nguyen Vu Thanh Dat - Photos: Huu Thanh – Kim Phuong – File