Stir you up with Detech Coffee: A Journey to Bring Son La Coffee to the World

10:33:41 AM | 6/6/2024

Detech Coffee is a women-owned and -led company and one of the top four Arabica producers in northern Vietnam. The company currently extends the Rainforest Alliance certification,  an international certification standard, to over 1,000 farmers and plans to pursue additional certifications, including organic, in the very near future. Ms. Ngoc Anh Dao Ph.D - Chairwoman and Chief of Strategies shared with Vietnam Business Forum the journey of bringing Vietnam's specialty Arabica coffee to the global stage by Detech Coffee.

Ms. Ngoc Anh Dao and the women farmers of Son La

With a passion for coffee, and a persistent pursuit of the coffee industry with the motto "Coffee is not just a commodity but a specialty, a product with many valuable impacts", could you share some notable milestones of Detech Coffee in the journey to elevate the Vietnamese coffee brand?

More than a producer of high-quality Arabica coffee, Detech Coffee carries the mission of elevating the status of Vietnamese coffee on the international stage, promoting sustainable cultivation practices, and creating equal opportunities for women. By focusing on enhancing product quality, supporting local economies, and empowering women through training in personal development, Detech Coffee is steadily fulfilling its dream of introducing Vietnamese Arabica coffee to the global market.

“Detech Coffee takes pride in its sustainable supply chain, marked by the human touch.”

On the gently rolling hills of Son La, the fertile northwest land, carefully selected Arabica coffee varieties are nurtured and tended by the skilled hands of ethnic minority women. These daughters of the mountains and forests have been thoroughly trained in plant care, harvesting ripe cherries, and occupational health and safety. This ensures that every coffee bean meets the highest quality standards.

When the coffee cherries ripen to a deep red hue, Detech Coffee's team of workers carefully handpicks and transports them from the highlands to the wet processing mill. Here, the fresh, flavorful cherries undergo a meticulous wet processing method, removing the pulp, fermentation and being washed before being sun-dried on the patio and later dried in greenhouses.

The journey of  coffee does not end there. The coffee in parchment is  then transported to the dry mill in Hung Yen province to complete their transformation into high-quality green coffee beans.

Before these green coffee beans embark on their voyage to reach coffee lovers around the world, we conduct one final quality check. Each shipment will be ensured to meet strict standards defined by the clients, according to for example Specialty Coffee Association, Rainforest Alliance, 4C and CAFE PRACTICES certifications, completing the proud journey of Detech Coffee's green coffee beans.

People are the key factor in Detech Coffee's success in enhancing the value of Son La Arabica coffee. The professional team, from those working directly on the farms to the quality assurance experts and the international business team, consistently develops based on the sustainable direction set by the leadership.

With relentless efforts on the journey to bring the true value of coffee to consumers, and a desire to create wholesome, health-promoting cups of coffee that carry the cultural values behind each brew, Detech Coffee has built the Konnai Coffee brand to provide high-quality Vietnamese coffee products to consumers. Could you share some insights about Konnai Coffee?

The co-founders of Detech Coffee are also the visionaries behind the Konnai Coffee brand, driven by a passion to deliver a complete "from farm to cup" coffee experience.

Konnai draws inspiration from the Saola, also known as the "Asian Unicorn", which was chosen as the brand's logo due to its to its special connections.

Both the Saola and Son La Arabica coffee are "precious gems" of nature, existing only in specific regions and undergoing rigorous selection processes to achieve outstanding quality. Just as the Saola possesses a sharp sense of smell, Konnai is always quick to grasp market trends. And much like the Saola's preference for ripe fruit, Konnai exclusively uses hand-picked, fully ripened coffee cherries to ensure the most exquisite flavors.

Konnai Coffee leads the way in narrating the story of an enriched life over aromatic cups of coffee through its product lines: Specialty and premium coffee; Freeze-dried instant coffee in various flavors; Convenient drip coffee bags with distinct notes.

Konnai goes beyond just being coffee; it is a symbol of trust in quality and health. The brand's overarching story is intertwined with lush green coffee farms, the alluring scent of coffee blossoms, and joyful moments of savoring coffee.

The Panoramic View of Konnai Coffee  - Trust brings delight

Detech Coffee's project to cultivate Arabica coffee in Son La province was approved by the Son La Provincial People's Committee in August 2023. Could you share more details about this project? How will it contribute to the socio-economic development of Son La province?

Focusing investments on cultivating Son La Arabica coffee not only benefits the business but also contributes to improving the lives of the community, while creating a high-value product for customers.

Firstly, the project will provide employment opportunities and a stable income source for local farmers. With a close partnership model between the company and farmers, coffee growers will be assured of a stable output market and receive guidance and training in advanced cultivation techniques. This not only helps increase income but also contributes to improving livelihoods and reducing poverty in rural areas.

Secondly, the establishment of a high-quality production area according to organic standards will shape a sustainable agriculture for Son La.This is a new approach that aligns with the green development trend, preserving the beauty of Son La.

Third, the development of the coffee processing industry will provide employment opportunities and higher incomes for workers. This is also a solid foundation for Son La to elevate itself as a national center for producing and exporting high-quality coffee. The Son La coffee brand will be firmly established and widely promoted.

Finally, the project also combines promoting and enhancing the inherent cultural values associated with the traditional cultivation and processing of coffee, contributing to the preservation and promotion of Vietnam's ethnic cultural identity.

As a founding member of the International Women's Coffee Alliance Vietnam (IWCA Vietnam), how has Detech Coffee been contributing to improving the livelihoods of ethnic minority communities, particularly women in Vietnam?

Over the years, Detech Coffee has collaborated closely with IWCA Vietnam in enhancing the capabilities, knowledge, and skills of female coffee farmers in Son La.

Through training programs on occupational safety, financial management, and eco-tourism, these women farmers are equipped with essential knowledge and skills in coffee cultivation and eco-tourism linked to coffee farming. This empowers them with self-reliance, enabling them to overcome challenges, gradually escape poverty, and stabilize their lives.

The company has provided many coffee seedlings and fruit trees to 140 female farmers in the IWCA Vietnam network. The new varieties, such as Starmaya and H1, can well replace old coffee trees, contributing to increased productivity and quality. Furthermore, the fruit trees serve as shade trees for the coffee plants while providing an additional source of income for these women.

Notably, during partner visits to the sourcing regions, we facilitate the participation of women farmers from the IWCA network, allowing them to introduce their land, culture, and share the stories behind coffee beans. This hands-on experience puts into practice the eco-tourism knowledge acquired through training, paving the way for these women to become professional local guides in their own homelands.

Thank you very much!

By Duy Binh, Vietnam Business Forum