Situated in Southern Shan State in Ywangwon township, coffee has been grown since the 1980’s where it was planted to try and eradicate the opium growing in the region. This coffee comes from smallholders on 1- 3 ha plots where they grow a variety of coffee varieties such as San Ramon, Caturra, Typica, catuai and S -795. On these farms they have mixed crops, livestock and shade trees to supplement the growing of coffee as smallholders.
These small holder famers have been supported the Mandalay Coffee Group (MCG) who have worked with these farmers supplying training to the small groups to help improve quality. Some of these famers also received training from a USAID program led by Winrock international. A focus of this project of Rift Valley trading who exported these coffees with MCG was to focus on famers who hadn’t received training from the program and reach out to those as well to help them improve their standards.
During the harvest Thint Lwin who works for MCG will coordinate and purchase the cherry with his local village collectors from the farmers where all money is paid upfront. The coffee is then transported directly to the wet mill owned by MCG in Pyin Oo Lwin. By taking the cherry MCG can help reduce the risk for farmers and have greater control over the process and quality of washed and natural coffees. In 2017 they achieved a score of 89.5 in the national competition with a natural lot which has encouraged them to continue this and expand the operation growing form 15 to 100 raised beds as well as building parabolic driers.
This lot made up of 80% Catuai, 10% S-795, 10 % other arabica (San Ramon, Caturra, Typica) will be picked and then sent overnight to the processing facilty in Pyin Oo Lwin. Cherries are pulped the same day in a Pinhalense vertical eco-pulper, and parchment is fermented in tiled tanks overnight. After thorough washing, parchment is dried on concrete patios in the sun, with workers turning it hourly and covering it before dusk to prevent dew from reaching the coffee at night. The drying can take between 7 – 21 days weather depending.
Each daily lot is kept separate and cupped and assessed by a Q grader to assess the quality and profile which can be mixed in final dry milling. Coffee
is then hulled, sized, and sorted ready for export. The specialty lots also undergo a final hand sorting to ensure the quality is as requested.