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coffee@home: Doi Chaang

Beans: See Below
Roaster: Doi Chaang Coffee Company

Ratings: see below

Southeast Asian countries are a force to be reckoned with in the coffee producing world. Baggy, musty or not, Sumatra coffees play a major role in most blends and serve as the poster child for darker roasted, earthier coffees. Papua New Guinea coffees have burst onto the scene as the thinking man’s alternative to Sumatra. Vietnam is a huge producer of commercial grade coffees – that’s the low-grade stuff that makes up the bulk of the coffee market. India produces its fair share of distinctive and commercial grade coffees. And let’s not forget – then again, maybe we should – the boomerang-like media specter that is the infamous Kopi Lupak coffee.

One country I’ve never seen on these lists, however, is Thailand, which is why I was surprised to hear from the folks at Doi Chaang. Their coffee is grown and processed by the Akha tribe in northern Thailand who own 50 percent of the company – that’s certainly meaningful in the relationship coffee department.  Still, I get lots of solicitations to try coffees and barely have the time to write them all back. Doi Chaang holds the double honor of being from Thailand and having multiple 90+ marks from Coffee Review. Grant it, those ratings were for the 2008 crop, but likely indicated something good here.

I received three different coffees, which are roasted and shipped from Vancouver where the Doi Chaang company is located. That’s another plus. Many of the Asian coffees I read about are roasted abroad with no mention of roasting dates. Doi Chaang roasts fresh and ships from Canada, ensuring prompt delivery. Here’s what I thought of each:

Single Estate Signature (2): This coffee was the darkest of the three and my least favorite. My tasting notes included grapes, molasses and grilled peaches, but I also noted that the coffee was ashy, burnt and harsh around the edges. I tried this coffee several ways, but the darker roast simply overpowered the coffee.

Single Estate Piko Peaberry (2+): This coffee scored an impressive 93 from Coffee Review in 2008. Perhaps the coffee this year is equally as good, but if so, the roast feel short of doing it honors. For this coffee, my notes included lime, tobacco, herbs, and smoke. It was a clean, passable darker roast, but not anything I was really interested in drinking.

Single Estate medium (3): This coffee scored a 90 from Coffee Review in 2008, and more or less lives up to those marks. I noted cherry, tobacco, fall leaves and brown sugar in a coffee with a tea-like body and a mild, lime acidity. Don’t expect a bold coffee. This coffee embodies understated. In fact, I preferred this coffee via aeropress, which amplified its subtle and well rounded personality. Either way, though, it’s nice to find a Thai coffee that can be consumed without condensed milk. This coffee isn’t going to change your world but you will appreciate its subtlety.

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