Red Cliff Coffee: Talking With Derek Kirk About Chiang Rai’s Most Delicious Export (2.17)

2017-11-15T22:50:01+00:00

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So a guy from Alaska who owns a coffee plantation in Hawaii hires a guy from Indiana who’s living in Thailand to help him grow coffee. There’s no punchline. Just a great episode of the Bangkok Podcast!

After Evo explains why he was in Finland and gives us a crash course on world travel expos (like Matka 2017) and blogger conferences (like NBE Finland), and Greg runs down his recent motorbiking misadventures in Chiang Rai, we get down to business. What business? Serious business. Coffee.

Greg had a conversation with Derek Kirk, a fellow expat who manages a coffee plantation that puts out Red Cliff Coffee, a personal favorite of Greg’s that Evo needs to try.

Starting as an English teacher, Derek fell in love with Northern Thailand and wanted to find a way to stay. In his spare time, he started working with coffee farmers from the Akha Hill Tribe. Some of them had recently started planting coffee as a cash crop but didn’t have much experience. Derek made the decision to learn as much as he could about coffee production, vowing to return to Northern Thailand and spread that knowledge. He moved to Kona, Hawaii, became a sponge for coffee knowledge, and brought 10,000 trees back to Thailand to start his enterprise.

The beans that come from this experiment are, in his opinion (backed up by Greg’s insatiable appetite), the best beans grown in Thailand, far outpacing the standard Thai coffee fare.

More importantly, coffee — quality coffee — is giving a huge economic boost to the region. As evidence; other farmers in the village are seeing the success of their neighbors and getting in on the action, and small vendors on the side of the road in heavily Thai areas — even outside of Bangkok — are selling quality cappuccino for 55 baht. Not great news if you want cheap coffee. But outstanding news if you — like us — appreciate a quality cuppa and wish to see it spread.
But don’t think this is the story of one (more) farang coming in and taking over from the locals. Yes, Derek did inject some know-how into the system, but the farmers producing coffee are doing so on their own terms, on their own land, and producing their own product. Now that’s social entrepreneurism at work!

Love, Loathe, or Leave?

For our North American friends, we give you the lowdown of 7-11, which is *much* more than just a convenience store in Bangkok: It’s a way of life. Not surprisingly we love 7-11 if only because it’s so ingrained into society here in the Big Mango. But there is one aspect we rather loathe. You’ll have to listen to find out.

Want more?

Drop us a line over at  bangkokpodcast.com, or leave a review for us on iTunes or Google Play. Oh, and we have a Facebook page! You can even Tweet to the show @bangkokpodcast or us personally at @bkkgreg or @evoterra. We’ll see you next week on The Bangkok Podcast!

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