Bulletin

An online magazine of news and opinions from the Asia New Zealand Foundation

International coffee barons meet over a fresh brew in Wellington

When young Thai coffee exporter Fuadi Pitsuwan sat down to talk beans with two Wellington coffee roasters last week, he hoped he would establish new devotees of his single origin Thai coffee. However, not only did he make a couple of new converts but walked away from the meeting with an order for his first shipment of beans to New Zealand.

A group of people chatting around a table in a cafe

Pitsuwan was in New Zealand as part of a delegation of seven young food and beverage business leaders and entrepreneurs the Asia New Zealand Foundation brought to New Zealand to experience the f&b sector here and make connections.

Over several coffees, Pitsuwan, co-founder of Beanspire, and owners of Acme & Co at Prefab, Jeff Kennedy and Jessica Godfrey, discussed the finer points of single and mixed origin coffee, and Pitsuan spoke at length about his passion – Thai coffee.

Thailand isn’t known internationally for its coffee, which Pitsuan says is largely because 99 percent of it is consumed domestically, something he would like to see change.

Pitsuan founded Beanspire to increase the volume of beans exported and by doing so increase the price paid back to the farmer. Thai green beans are grown in the highlands of Thailand and the farms can only be owned by the hill tribes, producing Arabica and Robusta beans.

He thinks Thailand should be famous for its coffee, like Hawaii or Panama, and for farmers to obtain premium prices through the production of high quality coffee and national branding.

Pitsuwan believes that exporting is necessary to the sustainability of Thai coffee. “We want to keep farmers farming and bring young people back to the farms. Young people improve the quality of Thai coffee.”

The Thai coffee scene is strongly influenced by what’s happening in New Zealand and Australia due to young Thais travelling here, developing a taste for coffee and bringing coffee culture back to Thailand, he says. But they also do things their own way in Thailand.

“Nitro coffee is popular, where it’s served from taps like beer." 

After first introducing Pitsuwan to some of Prefab’s roasts, Kennedy roasted a 5kg sample of green Thai-grown beans harvested just a week before that Pitsuan had brought with him.

On trying the coffee, Kennedy declared it to be delicious.  “It’s like chocolate! I can taste the care that’s been taken in its production. How much of it can I buy?”

It's not the first time a coffee exporter here as part of a YBLI delegation has struck a deal with a Kiwi roaster. Petone-based Ripe coffee roasters have been importing beans from Indonesian coffee exporter Indradi Soemardjan since meeting him during a YBLI visit to New Zealand in 2014.

Watch a video of Pitsuwan and his fellow Southeast Asian entrepreneurs visiting some of Wellington's up and coming food and beverage businesses

Interesting facts:

  • Thai coffee is grown on trees that are up to 40 years old
  • The harvest season in Thailand is from November to March, but this is fluctuating due to climate change
  • The coffee bean is the seed within a berry
  • Excessive rain can ruin a coffee crop because the berry absorbs too much moisture, bursting and causing early fermentation
  • Tea can be brewed from the pulp of the coffee berry and the blossom
  • Honey is made from the coffee blossom
  • Most of New Zealand’s coffee comes from Costa Rica, Brazil and Kenya
  • Coffee production in Thailand is growing at 15 per cent a year.

Since 2012, the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative has brought more than 70 dynamic entrepreneurs and business leaders from Southeast Asia to New Zealand, building business connections and facilitating trade links. The initiative has also enabled New Zealand entrepreneurs to participate in sector-specific programmes in Southeast Asia, including a food and beverage tour to Indonesia, an agricultural visit to the Philippines and a tech visit to Thailand.

Find out more

7 April 2017