Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2014

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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BANG KO K , TH A I L AN D THE OVERWHELMING HEAT of the day was already settling onto the cracked cement sidewalk as we made our way through the early morning streets of our small suburb. Encased in a frenzy of sounds from motorbikes and smells from restaurants just opening their doors, my partner Robb and I carefully navigated the gridlocked intersections of 8 a.m. traffic that would lead us to the metro station where five-car speed trains would take us even deeper into the complex, captivating city of Bangkok. With a population of over 14 million people (almost double the population of the San Francisco Bay area), Bangkok is a perfect example of the beautiful yet intricate relationship between traditionalism and modernity. While walking through downtown, you find yourself caught between 10-story shopping malls tempting you with the soothing relief of air conditioning, and small food stalls hitched to the sides of motorbikes tracing the sidewalk, selling everything from fruit to traditional curries. It was on these streets that our journey began: After over a month and a half of working in Myanmar, surviving off of the omnipresent three-in-one instant coffee packets (that's a powder mix that comprises 58 percent sugar, 27 percent creamer, and 15 percent soluble coffee), we arrived in Thailand determined to find ourselves a delicious cup of coffee. Compared to more established coffee-producing countries, the story of Thailand's newfound relationship with coffee is Opposite page, at top: A view of the ever-expanding downtown neighborhoods of Bangkok from the top of the Bangkok Arts & Culture Center, home to Gallery Drip Coffee; below: Gallery Drip Coffee cofounders Na hiti Ampriwan and Piyachat Trithaworn preparing a delicious array of coffees grown in the Chiang Mai provinces, a 12-hour train ride away. This page: Marian Aguilar of Ceresia Coffee Roasters, puts the finishing touches on Bangkok's increasingly popular beverage, the flat-white. both innovative and inspiring. Historically, coffee production in Thailand has been minimal and mostly prevalent in the southern provinces. In 1969, a set of development projects were put into place by King Bhumibol Adulyadej in order to combat not only rising poverty and deforestation issues, but the devastating popularity of opium production in the northern provinces. The Royal Project, as it is known, focused on the promotion of alternative crop production with more profitable, legal crop options. This not only increased many family incomes, but also managed to nearly eliminate the production of opium poppies and much of the resulting deforestation. One of the most popular of these crops is, of course, coffee. Traditionally, coffee drinkers throughout Thailand have relied on street vendors who make large batches of coffee with a cloth filter, much like the sock filter used in Woodneck brewing systems. However, due to the bitterness of the extraction, people fell into the habit of adding substantial amounts of sugar and condensed milk to their coffee, eventually leading to the popularity of o'leng, or Thai iced coffee. www.baristamagazine.com 29

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