Đà Lạt is the capital of Lâm Đồng Province in Vietnam and it’s located in the southern parts of Central Highlands region. It’s a popular tourist destination and because of its temperate climate it got the name of the “City of Eternal Spring” during the French colonial period, with pleasantly warm temperature during the day and quite cool ones at night. Coffee production in Vietnam is concentrated in a proportion of 80% in Central Highlands. As I was writing before, 97% of the Vietnamese coffee production is Robusta and the small part of Arabica production is almost entirely concentrated in Lâm Đồng Province, which ranges in altitudes from 1350 m to above 1600 m above sea level.
We’ve got the chance to visit Đà Lạt in December 2017 in the peak coffee harvesting season and we met two of the main coffee processors from the region. We’ve seen and participated to all the processes involved in the production of good quality coffee, from harvesting to roasting and drinking, so a full farm to cup experience. This article is about one of them, The Married Beans. I’ll come back with a separate article about La Viet, the second company that we’ve visited.
The Married Beans are an important player in the Vietnamese specialty coffee production, contributing to the growing reputation of single-origin Arabica coffee beans by building strong relationships with coffee farmers around Đà Lạt, Cau Dat and Lac Duong. We’ve met Mr. Duy Hồ, the Founder and Director of the company which has a special relation with coffee beans. That’s where the name The Married Beans comes from, he’s got an intense relation with coffee, which he treats it as his wife, dedicating all his time and money to it.
In 2009, Mr. Duy Hồ came to Đà Lạt to work as a volunteer on a sustainable development project in Lam Dong province. Combining the best ingredients (altitude, temperature and soil), Lam Dong makes the perfect place for growing Arabica beans in Vietnam. When the project finished after two years, he joined La Viet Coffee in Đà Lạt together with other investors. In 2013 he went to Ho Chi Minh City where he co-founded The Workshop, one of the best coffee shops in HCMC. Because of different visions and because of realizing that his mission is to grow coffee, he returned to Đà Lạt and founded The Married Beans, reconnecting with the farmers that he worked with during the volunteering project. He formed a cooperative together with Mr. Võ Phước, which now includes 30 farms with more than 50 farmers that work with them. TMB invested in processing facilities and drying beds, helping and guiding the farmers to preserve their Arabica beans and to improve the value and quality of Đà Lạt coffee.
The Married Beans work in the benefit of the community, being a sociable responsible cooperative and paying fair trade prices to the farmers. They process about ten tons a month and 60% of the business consists in exporting green beans to America, Japan and Australia, the remaining 40% being sold on the Vietnamese market. The profits from the sales are given back to the farmers.
The coffee cherries are exclusively hand-picked at their maximum ripeness (not earlier) and then processed in the cooperative’s facilities by two methods: washed and natural, and dried in green houses on raised beds. The fermentation process is attentively controlled and the coffee beans are carefully selected in order to obtain the best quality.
The selection and the roasting processes are done in The Married Beans Working Space, a lovely colonial villa located on the hills of Đà Lạt. The facilities include an office, storage spaces, selection room, roasting and cupping room which hosts a La Marzocco espresso machine, Vitoria Arduino and Mahlkonig grinders and two custom made Vina Nha Trang roasters (5 and 7 kg). The space serves as well as a training center.
By middle of December they will open at The Married Beans Working Space the second coffee shop and training center. By January they plan to offer accommodation facilities in the gorgeous villa for guests who want to have a “farm to cup” experience.
The first TMB coffee shop is located in the center of the town, offering a quiet and artistic atmosphere. Of course, the coffee selection comes from own processing.
Our experience and the farm trips were memorable. If you ever get the chance to visit a coffee farm, I urge you to do it. Go and see what’s behind the cup of coffee that you drink, talk to the people involved in these processes and I guarantee you that you will appreciate your cup of coffee more.
Thank you The Married Beans!