A fine Dark-Roasted Myanmar coffee has a good body and positive characteristics though is not yet generally accepted into the world of specialty or gourmet coffee. A dry processed Myanmar coffee resembles a Brazil Cerrado Coffee.
Known for its strong body (which can be almost oily) and earthy qualities somewhat comparable to Indonesian Coffees, Myanmar coffee sometimes presents aggressive tarry flavors with hints of garlic and is more comparable to an herbaceous Brazil Coffee.
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Most Arabica coffee is grown in the uplands in the north while the Robusta crops are grown mostly in the lower southern areas.
Smallholders farming on average less than one acre account for about eighty percent of the country’s coffee crop while private and public large coffee estates comprise the remainder of the annual harvest.
About two thirds of the annual coffee crop in Myanmar is Arabica with most of the remainder being Robusta.
Due to political unrest and civil rights issues the coffee market in Myanmar is unsteady. US AID grant money has gone to support farmer cooperatives in Myanmar as was done in Timor in a way that provided money to coffee farmers rather than the government.
Coffee growing in Myanmar began in 1885 when missionaries began cultivating coffee plants.
In recent years coffee acreage in Myanmar has been increasing and the Northern Myanmar region has shown the potential to produce large quantities of high quality Arabica coffee due to its high elevation plateaus with high quality red soils and ample rainfall.
A coffee expansion program in Myanmar has included the used of better production methods as well as coffee processing techniques and farmer training that has led to higher returns for farmers and an increasing potential for high quality Arabica coffee production.
Also grown in Myanmar is Robusta coffee as well as Liberica Coffee and Excelsa. About eighty percent of Myanmar coffee is grown by small farms using rudimentary processing methods. (e.g., dry processed with the coffee bean dried in the cherry, then hulled by pounding).
In the early 2000s Myanmar was producing more than 300 tons of coffee annually, most of which was handled by the three large producers: MFE, Maha and Premier. Numerous small roasters contributed only about ten tons annually.
Myanmar’s coffee production has been steadily increasing, and an agricultural training center started by Myanmar’s military government in northern Mandalay province is in cooperation with a South Korean farm school. The goal of the center is to provide agricultural engineering, research and economy training for rural farmers and students.
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