Developing specialty coffee to enhance the value and reputation of Vietnamese coffee

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Specialty coffee offers superior value compared to commercial coffee. Photo: TL
Specialty coffee offers superior value compared to commercial coffee. Photo: TL

Transfering from quantity to quality

Information recently announced by Phuc Sinh Joint Stock Company has shown positive signs for Vietnam's specialty coffee industry. Phuc Sinh's specialty coffee products were "sold out" after only two days of launch at a specialty coffee event in Chicago, even though the selling price was up to 14 USD/250gr. This has contributed to affirming the quality of Vietnamese coffee in the international market.

For many years, Vietnam has held the second position in the world in terms of coffee export market share, only behind Brazil. This has turned Vietnam into a supplier of coffee in large quantities in the eyes of world buyers, while the quality factor, especially the specialty coffee segment, is almost forgotten.

Mr. Phan Minh Thong, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Phuc Sinh Company, said that when it comes to Vietnamese specialty coffee, many international customers are very surprised, some even assert that Vietnam does not have specialty coffee. This has motivated Phuc Sinh to persevere in researching and developing specialty coffee products.

Sharing about the development of specialty coffee production in Vietnam, Mr. Trinh Duc Minh, Chairman of Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Association, said that around 2013-2014, specialty coffee began to be imported. exported to Vietnam for sale in some stores and cafes. By 2019, specialty coffee production in Vietnam will truly be standardized and scored by the organization of the Specialty Coffee contest of the People's Committee of Dak Lak Province and the Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Association. Since the contest has increasingly improved in both quality and quantity by attracting many businesses, farms, and cooperatives to participate and the number of samples recognized as specialty coffee is also increasing. If in the first organization in 2019, only 30 samples met specialty standards, then in 2024, the number of passing samples has increased to 129.

Mr. Minh said that the Specialty Coffee Contest is organized with the goal of creating a mark to contribute to transforming the Vietnamese coffee industry from quantity to quality and to be a leader to improve the quality of the entire coffee industry. “When looking at Vietnam, the world will no longer consider Vietnamese coffee as a low-grade product, but there are very delicious quality products, meeting world standards, with small output but very high value, three to five times higher times compare to commercial coffee" - Mr. Minh shared. Specifically, at the present time, when the average coffee price is about 100,000 VND/kg, specialty coffee can be sold for 300,000 VND/kg or more. "The higher the score, the more expensive the selling price" - Mr. Minh emphasized.

Mr. Nguyen Tan Vinh, Director of K-Pan Co., Ltd., a manual roasting and blending expert, said that in many blending competitions around the world, contestants using Vietnamese robusta coffee have won. In addition, Q-Grader classes - an important qualification for those working in the coffee production industry, organized by the World Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) also present many Vietnamese coffee samples.

Enhancing the position of Vietnamese coffee

By the results of the Specialty Coffee contest in recent years, the organizing committee has selected the Top 10 Arabica and Top 10 Robusta coffee samples to promote domestically and internationally and have always been very positively received by customers. However, due to limited output, exports in recent years have not been much. It is most notable is 2/9 Dak Lak Import-Export Company Limited (Simexco Dak Lak) has exported one container to the UK market in 2021 and one container to Japan in 2023. There are also shipments of five to ten tons. "Even though the volume is not high, the value achieved is very large" - Mr. Trinh Duc Minh said.

However, Mr. Nguyen Tan Vinh expressed his concern about the development of specialty coffee in Vietnam is the fragmentation when farms have not linked or developed together. In order to have long-term development or meet large quantity orders, this fragmentation is an obstacle to the future development of Vietnamese specialty coffee. "If it developed well, specialty coffee will bring a lot of economic value and reputation to the Vietnamese coffee industry" - Mr. Vinh emphasized.

Promoting the development of specialty coffee in Vietnam, from 2021, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has issued the "Project for developing Vietnamese specialty coffee for the period 2021 - 2030" with the goal of achieving high production output of 5,000 tons of specialty coffee in the period 2021-2025 and 11,000 tons in the period 2026-2039. However, according to Mr. Trinh Duc Minh's assessment, the implementation of this project was assigned to the local Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, leading to a situation of "everyone doing their own thing" and being ineffective.

In order for specialty coffee production to thrive in the coming time, Mr. Minh believes that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development needs to compile a set of training documents on specialty coffee production according to Vietnam's conditions. For a long time, associations, farms, and cooperatives have had to use foreign documents. However, this document is mainly for Arabica coffee, while Robusta is Vietnam's strength. Besides, it is necessary to build a technical training team. Recently, a number of individuals have proactively gone to school and received degrees in specialty coffee processing to retrain Vietnamese farmers. But the number of these experts is currently very small, so when it wants to organize a training class, it is very difficult for the association to invite experts and the cost is also expensive.

Besides, the facilities to open training classes are also very difficult. Mr. Minh said that in recent times, to open training classes on specialty coffee production, the Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Association often had to find farms with sufficient conditions for machinery and equipment, drying yards, Greenhouses... to deploy, but it is also very difficult. In addition, Mr. Minh also hopes that the State will support cooperatives and farms in promoting specialty coffee at international fairs to gradually change the world's view of Vietnamese coffee, thereby contributing to brand development and enhancing the position of Vietnamese coffee.

By Nguyenhien/Quynhlan

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