Fighting the Drug War with Coffee


The "Golden Triangle," an area in Southeast Asia where Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand meet, has been widely regarded as the second largest opium producing region in the world behind the Golden Crescent in Afghanistan. Hilltribe families have been dependent on the growing, harvesting, and processing of this illegal product deep in the mountainous jungles. 

Despite the government's countless attempts to fight this drug war, a small but strong crop ended up being the catalyst for change in Northern Thailand. Almost 32 years ago, these villagers were given coffee crops by the King of Thailand to encourage them to leave the drug war, learn a new trade, and harvest a product that they can be proud of without the fear of being punished.

Farmers were extremely familiar with growing a product on the steep mountainous farms, but without any knowledge of how to properly grow, harvest, and process coffee, the quality was extremely low. Farmers were being taken advantage of by traders resulting in extremely low wages, which forced many families to continue to grow and sell opium. Eventually farmers in the area came together to protect themselves, improve farming techniques, and introduce their coffee to the world.

Today Arabica coffee is grown throughout the provinces of Northern Thailand, but it hasn't been an easy road getting to that point. Young farmers are happy to be the first generation in the village that have not been a part of the opium trade. Farmers say that the Hilltribe families are proud to farm a product that is so widely known and respected around the world. No longer do they have the fear of being punished for harvesting an illegal product, yet they can focus on producing the highest quality coffee for coffee connoisseurs like you.

Thanks for taking the time to Kao Jai.

Kyle Ducharme - Co-Founder

Kyle Ducharme

I'm passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around me regardless of where I am in the world. Whether I am on the busy streets of Boston, building homes in Central Appalachia, or harvesting coffee abroad, I'm always looking for innovative ways to improve our lives and connect with those around us.