Founded in 2007, Doi Chaang has brought together a unique group of passionate coffee enthusiasts.
Since 2007, a hard-working hill tribe with no written language, an untouched region with the ultimate coffee-growing microclimate, and a handful of passionate people from Canada and Thailand have come together to bring high quality, freshly roasted arabica coffee to North America.
Our mission is to help create stability and sustainability in the Doi Chaang Region of Northern Thailand. Our story is one that is unique, and as rich as the coffee itself.
Doi Chaang Coffee Canada was born out of a partnership between the Akha hill tribe farmers of Northern Thailand, and the father-son duo, John M. and John A. Darch, from Vancouver, BC. After being touched by the story of the Akha people, and with the clear potential of their high-quality coffee, the two unlikely groups joined forces.
After a Southern Thai visionary, the late and beloved Wicha Promyong, told John M. the incredible tale of Doi Chaang Village’s history, he felt humbled by their struggles. Because of this, John established a unique partnership with the farmers – coined “Beyond Fair Trade™” – where the farmers would receive 50% ownership of the North American side of the business. After ten years, this business model evolved to a strategic relationship, where the now self-sufficient Doi Chang Village would receive a premium on top of the fair trade price they received for their coffee.
Since 2007, we’ve worked as a small but mighty team to bring the coffee of Doi Chaang Village to people across North America & Europe. The opportunity to sell coffee from the village in North America has provided Doi Chaang growers with a better standard of living, more diverse commodities for trade and the ability to unite with other hill tribes through their coffee academy and foundation.
There have been advancements on our end, too. We’ve introduced a line of blends, launched an e-commerce website, and have undergone a few brand facelifts.
Our direct relationship with Doi Chaang Village remains as unique and unparalleled, with John M. and John A. visiting the village multiple times a year to check on the newest crop season, attend celebrations and visit old friends.
The journey starts with a small village in the hills of Northern Thailand, and a group of Akha Hill Tribe people that wanted change.
The Akha are a nomadic hill tribe, originally from China. Because they are not Thai, the Akha faced many challenges after settling in Doi Chaang Village, in the hills of Chiang Rai Province of Northern Thailand. The challenges stemmed from not having any Thai ID – which restricted them from things like education and healthcare. This left them no choice but to turn to illegal activities – mainly opium cultivation – and left them vulnerable to scam artists from the cities.
In the 1980’s, under a royal initiative, Arabica plants were brought to the villages in Northern Thailand. While the climate was ideal for growing coffee, the farmers had no experience tending to these specific crops and picking and processing cherries. They were also at the whim of crooked traders from the cities, who underpaid them for their beans.
After many years of instability in the village, along with many failed coffee crops, a man named Khun Wicha Promyong decided to invest his energy into helping the Akha hill tribe perfect the cultivation and processing of coffee. Over time, they became established as independent, successful coffee producers under the name of “Doi Chaang Original Coffee Co.”.
The farmers were committed to maintaining sustainable agriculture and having minimal impact on the environment while building their own processing plants, drying facilities, and storage warehouses. This was a great development, but Wicha and the producer’s vision to expand the company still needed help. Wicha thought of his friend John M. Darch, a banker from Vancouver, BC, and the partnership was born.
From religious ritual to social expression, dark, aromatic coffee revitalizes millions of people around the world, every day – and Doi Chaang Coffee’s roasts and blends are no different.
Doi Chaang Coffee is a single-estate, premium Arabica coffee. It is certified Organic, Fairtrade, shade grown, handpicked, fresh water processed and sun dried. Each bean is hand sorted and freshly roasted by q-graders to ensure the highest possible quality for each cup of Doi Chaang Coffee.
Naturally low in caffeine, it has a complex and flavourful profile that is enhanced and released through detailed cultivating, processing and roasting methods. Doi Chaang Coffee is Ethiopian Washed processed. Rich fertile soil, high elevations and ample rainfall make Doi Chaang Village one of the premium coffee growing regions of the world.
We grow a variety of Arabica plants under a canopy of plum, peach, pear, and macadamia nut trees in altitudes between 1,200 and 1,600 meters above sea level. The fallen leaves from various fruit and nut trees create nutritious mulch for the coffee plants, providing a subtle fruit and nutty taste to the coffee cherries, creating a more complex, dense and intensely flavoured bean. We don’t use chemicals or pesticides on the coffee plants, or the soil. By protecting the rich fertile soil, Doi Chaang Coffee is sustainable for both the present and future generations of Doi Chaang farmers.
Green coffee beans are sent directly from the village to British Columbia. The complex and flavourful profile of the beans provides a wide spectrum of taste and allows the beans to be roasted on different levels and then combined to produce a variety of distinctive roasts. The beans are freshly roasted in Vancouver B.C., and then packaged and sealed in high grade valve bags, guaranteeing freshness.
Using their own resources and initiative, the farmers of Doi Chaang Village have established an academy to aid the farmers in their abilities as cultivators and processors of a world-class Arabica coffee. The main themes of the academy are education, environment and the creation of wealth for producers across the region.
Once a year, the Academy also welcomes coffee enthusiasts from around the world to join in and learn about the growing, harvesting, picking and selling of cherries. The academy is offered in both English and Thai, and offers valuable insight into the daily life of a farmer in the village.
So far over 500 hundred farmers have been educated at the Doi Chaang Academy and the benefit is already reflected in improved productivity. Due to this success, Doi Chaang Coffee has constructed a more substantial facility, including accommodations for the student farmers who are now eager to attend after witnessing the increased productivity of their neighbours.
The facility has 57 pillars, representing the number of Akha families living in the Doi Chaang region, making it the largest Akha house in the world.
As with all their other facilities, the academy is being built solely from the profits made from their coffee company. All the farmers from the Doi Chaang area are invited to attend the academy free of charge. With the goal of providing education on all aspects of cultivation and processing, The Doi Chaang Academy of Coffee is investing in both its people and the future of Doi Chaang Coffee. The growers are rightfully proud of their success and strive to improve the superior quality of their coffee and meet ever-increasing demand for Doi Chaang Coffee.
Over the last 13 years, our unique partnership has been able to transform the lives of many people in Doi Chaang Village who were once ostracized, deprived and without hope of a brighter future for themselves and their children. Many of the youth who had left the village are now receiving higher levels of education and returning to Doi Chaang to share in the prosperity of the coffee company.
Environmentally, the village has improved by leaps and bounds. Over 1,000,000 trees have been planted in the past decade under the initiative to re-populate the forest with vegetation and wildlife. These trees also provide natural shade for the coffee plants to grow in.
By eliminating outsourced operations and creating paved, well-maintained roads to the village, Doi Chaang has drastically reduced their carbon footprint. New pulping facilities have been built to improve coffee production, with more emphasis on sustainable practices to minimize impact to the environment, specifically with water usage.
Perhaps the most important development that has come from our partnership is the realization of our initial goal: for the village to become 100% self-sustained. The villagers and generations to come can enjoy their hard-earned success that we, as a partnership, only could have dreamed of back in 2007.