Asia covers such a vast area that it’s difficult to describe how the coffee is in each country from these vast equatorial regions. After all, how can you generalise how the coffee from each country will taste like? There will be many different factors at play, such as the roast, how its brewed and of course, the processing methods used by each country, coupled with its climate. We cannot allow ourselves to be carried away by our own assumptions of what the coffee will taste like, its practices or conventions.
However, we are going to attempt to give you a brief overview, as best we can, of what you can expect from this part of the world, and we hope you’ll not take it as being too prescriptive, and keep your mind open to any coffee coming from this part of the world. Coffee is always full of surprises and that’s why we love it so much.
Asian coffee – full of pleasant surprises
Asian coffee covers Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Papua New Guinea and Yemen. The processing methods used by each country pretty much determines what kind of coffee they’ll produce, that, and a whole host of other things, such as access to water and mills. We have a pretty good idea that roasting and brewing will determine how the coffee will express, but on the whole, Indonesia produces a dark earthy coffee that’s excellent for dark roasting and offers a lasting dark and unsweetened finish.
Coffee producing countries in Asia
Focusing one or two countries from this region, Vietnam also produced this familiar dark roast, and coffee plays a huge part in the daily life of its inhabitants. Vietnamese normally serve their coffee in individual portions, in a small cup complete with lid and known as the ‘phin.’ A small name for a small cup of heaven. Another coffee delicacy is the ‘ca phe chon’ a coffee that is produced from the beans which have been eaten and then partially digested by small weasel like creatures known as civets. The most popular Vietnamese bean is the Robusta.
Mythic tales, imaginative methods
In India again, it’s a full bodied coffee with low acidity and subtle spices. One of its coffees, the monsoon Malabar, has a story behind it of a fairy-tale childlike quality, with the wind and rain of the wooden boats bound for Europe in the 16th century creating a coffee bean taste like no other, resulting in a processing method that mimics the effects of that long ago sea journey.
Papua New Guinea or PNG as it’s known, produces an earthy coffee from a wet process, and Indonesia produces a similar coffee with a deep and dark earthiness, and in the Yemen, well coffee has been made here for the past 1,000 years, so there’s nothing you can tell them about coffee they don’t already know. Imagine those beautiful coffee pots with cups of coffee served on the floor, a circle of enthusiastic coffee drinkers surrounding this symbolic event daily event that’s been going on for as long as anyone can remember.