The turbaned man coffee brand

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24th December, 2016

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Pic by Doi Chaang Coffee Company

The man with the beaming smile wearing a black turban on his head is called Piko Saedoo. He’s a member of one of the most influential families of the Akha ethnic minority. He lives in the Ban Doi Chaang region in the north of Thailand, bordering Laos and Burma.The-Turbaned-Man-Coffee-Brand-02

Pic by Doi Chaang Coffee Company

In 1983, the king of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, implemented a series of initiatives to replace opium fields with other crops. This proposal was supported by the United Nations. The plan was to offer new opportunities to the agricultural communities, such as Piko Saedoo’s family, who were among the first to sow Arabica coffee.

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Pic by Doi Chaang Coffee Company

Slowly but surely, other farmers followed suit. Currently, more than 8,000 Akha grow 100% organic Arabica coffee, in the place where opium poppies once grew. The coffee is grown on small family plantations and is a sustainable form of agriculture.

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Pic by Doi Chaang Coffee Company

The coffee is planted in the shade, harvested by hand, washed in fresh water and dried in the sun. The coffee plantation also contributes to the reforestation of the mountainside and has changed the lives of the Ban Doi Chaang inhabitants, bringing prosperity to Piko Saedoo’s whole community.

The-Turbaned-Man-Coffee-Brand-05Pic by Doi Chaang Coffee Company

At the turn of the century, the villagers of Ban Doi Chaang decided to form a crops cooperative without intermediaries. They wanted to manage their harvests themselves and to do so with more dignity. And so began a partnership with a group of Canadians, who helped them to distribute their product on an international scale, leaving the confines of the mountainside behind. That’s how the Doi Chaang Coffee Company was born, with its headquarters in Vancouver.

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Pic by Doi Chaang Coffee Company

Ever since, the Akha have been controlling the entirety of the business in their country and they own half of the international business. Over the last few years, Thailand has become one of the world’s main coffee producers, and in 2015 the Doi Chaang variety received recognition as a European Union protected geographical indication.

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Pic by Doi Chaang Coffee Company

The Doi Chaang community wanted to thank Piko Saedoo for his dedication and his bold idea, which is why his face adorns the Doi Chaang Coffee logo. The picture shows a profile of Piko Saedoo looking into the distance, wearing a traditional turban covering his hair and surrounded by the words “Select Best Quality Beans – Freshly Roasted 100% Arabica Coffee”. Doi Chaang is the turbaned man coffee brand.