Doi Chaang Coffee Company, a business partnership between villagers in Thailand and a family business in Canada, may be revolutionizing the state of capitalism. All too often a cold-blooded game of dog-eat-dog based on a sheer profit, capitalism is getting a makeover from Doi Chaang, which operates like none other. The company’s model has given a small village in Thailand the opportunity to grow a sustainable business for its community, all while producing a first-rate organic coffee. In fact, Doi Chaang Coffee is the only Thai-grown certified organic, Fair Trade coffee in the world. But it’s much more than that.
In Northern Thailand, in the small village of Doi Chaang, local villagers had been growing coffee beans on 200 acres of land for about 30 years, but they had only been taking in profits of just fifty cents per kilogram—barely enough to survive. Now, thanks to a unique business partnership, the village is taking in ten dollars for the same kilogram of coffee, a 20-fold increase in profits.
Thai native and businessman Wicha Promyong and Canadian businessman John Darch teamed up in 2006 to create a business model unlike any other thus far known to capitalism. Funded by Darch’s family company, Doi Chaang Coffee Company was formed, and the coffee farmers were granted 50% ownership of the company; they also retain 100% of proceeds from the sale of their beans. This incredible amount of ownership granted to the farmers is unprecedented in other “Fair Trade” agreements between companies and the farmers they source from, hence the slogan dubbed by John Darch, “Beyond Fair Trade.”
Because of the immense profits from their organic coffee sales, the villagers of Doi Chaang have earned enough money to build a truly viable economy and self-sufficient community for themselves. They’ve opened a Coffee Academy, which, at no cost to residents, trains local villagers in organic coffee farming—but also on personal health, education and finances. To date, the Coffee Academy has educated over 1,000 Doi Chaang villagers, and the numbers grow as steadily as their coffee profits.
Doi Chaang has had so much success with its organic coffee sales (its Organic Arabica beans rank around 90 on Coffee Reviews, putting it in the top 1% of coffees in the world) that it’s expanded its scope to make even more products—and this may be my personal favorite thing about this forward-thinking company. They’re taking the organic wastes from their coffee production at Doi Chaang and using them to make even more first-rate products. There’s a honey made from the blossoms of the coffee fruit trees, which, in complete truthfulness, is my favorite honey in the world. It’s closer to light agave syrup than traditional clover honey, with a thin, pourable consistency and incredibly delicious taste. Its flavor is sweet and complex, like light agave mixed with hints of champagne grapes, elderberries and a floral touch. I truly love this honey. But there’s also the all-natural coffee soap bar, made with espresso grounds and the coffee blossom honey. And in the works, a bath and body product line made with the pure oil of the coffee beans.
Doi Chaang is taking the concept of reducing, reusing and recycling to a whole new level, all within their self-propelled community of farmers and villagers. Combined with their organic farming practices and application of biodynamics (their coffee beans are shade-grown, growing under canopies of native plants like macadamia nuts, which they can also sell within their community), Doi Chaang shows a level of ingenuity and thoughtfulness that most modern Western companies should still aspire for. They are an inspiration for the capitalistic model, and one hell of a coffee bean company. Highly recommended for the coffee connoisseur or for those looking to check out some very awesome fair trade coffee and products at their best.
Also, we've got 5 Tips to Green Up Your Java Ritual that pairs beautifully with a cup of Doi Chang Joe.
Image: Doi Chaang Coffee
Learn more (and check out their awesome products):
4 minute Global National TV newscast: This Global TV National Broadcast coverage covers the unique relationship between the Akha Hill tribe farmer of Northern Thailand and Doi Chaang Coffee Company.
10 minute Presentation, “Growing Beyond Business”: A brief commentary covering the establishment of the Doi Chaang Coffee Company, its early stages, business philosophy, growth, partnerships and future outlook
Disclosure: Doi Chaang Coffee Company supplied us with complimentary products for this review; no other compensation from the company was given to the reviewer.