Vietnam is a special place. As the world’s largest producer of robusta, Vietnam isn’t generally thought of as an origin with high quality coffee. But that is hardly the case. Cau Dat in the province of Da Lat in the central to southeastern part of the country, grows significant amounts of great coffee, and we are one of the only specialty importers sourcing it who have quality controls in place over the entire process. Vietnam is a country of smallholder farms, averaging 1-3 hectares, and famers do not process their own coffee here but instead sell red cherry to wet mills, who process the coffee for export. Mercon operates several wet mills in Da Lat and has established strong quality programs at each of them. All the Lotus Washed coffee Mercon Specialty imports comes from our LIFT partners. There are about 100 LIFT farmers in Da Lat, about 30 of whom are women owned and managed. These producers receive technical assistance, free of charge, from agronomists to help improve quality across the entire supply chain.
Lotus Washed is grown at an altitude of 1400-1600 masl, and the region is characterized by year-round cool weather and volcanic soil. Coffee has been growing in Caudat since the mid-1850’s when it was introduced by the French. It has since been cultivated by Vietnamese farmers and the region is known for being the among the highest quality arabica in the country. The coffee is picked ripe and pulped and separated in Colombian Penagos machinery, then fermented and washed with careful monitoring for quality.
After drying, Lotus Washed is then stored in Da Lat, which has a lower average temperature than Ho Chi Minh, until it is ready for export, at which time it is hulled and sent to Ho Chi Minh for export. Once in Ho Chi Minh, the coffee is stored in a climate-controlled warehouse for up to two weeks before shipping.