From Foreigner to Friend

Kao Jai Coffee

It's rare to be blessed to meet someone in our lifetime that's so on fire for what they do that the word passion doesn't even come close to adequately describing the amount of time, energy, and love that the person puts into their lifelong commitment to what they believe in. Whether it was fate or divine intervention, I was blessed to have this opportunity when I walked into a small coffee shop on a busy street corner in Chiang Rai, Thailand almost six months ago.

Doon and I met through her brother, the owner of the small coffee shop, after he happened to be sitting behind me, and we began discussing the possibility of making the 90 minute trek to the coffee farm in his broken English and my severely crippled Thai. For some reason, he agreed to connect his coffee-loving sister with a foreign stranger who happened to be in the right place at the right time. We decided to meet later that week at night after I finished teaching my classes at the local school.

I'm not really sure why, but I began to get more and more nervous for our first "meeting" as the hours passed during the day. The sun finally set, I dressed myself in presentable clothes, and boarded our small Yamaha moped to make the 15 minute ride into town. At this point I was still getting used to the "rules" of the road, so the speeding cars, overabundance of bugs, and lack of traffic signs made me tense enough during the ride to forget the nerves associated with meeting Doon.

When we finally arrived a few minutes late, Doon was proudly waiting with two freshly made Thai tea that she mentioned being her favorite. The three of us sat down around a small table and began talking about the possibility of visiting the farm as soon as possible to see the process, harvest coffee, and gain a better understanding of specialty Thai coffee.

At first everyone was a little timid because of the language barrier and the fact that we were total strangers from different parts of the world talking in languages foreign to the country we were in. Doon continuously apologized for her English speaking abilities, yet I was blown away by her commitment to learn English for the sole purpose of sharing her Thai coffee with English speaking countries around the globe.

We ended up talking for almost a couple hours about everything from the history of the Golden Triangle, the process in which they go through to produce their coffee, and the possibility of one day working together to share her passion and love for Thai coffee and the farmers with the world. For some reason Doon trusted me enough at that moment to sacrifice working at her own local coffee shop on the upcoming Saturday to take me to the place that has held a special place in her heart for years.

It's now been six months since fate intervened in both of our lives to begin forming a friendship and partnership that has broken through cultural and language barriers to accomplish goals that at the time felt like distant dreams. Doon has opened up her life and heart to show her resilient spirit and perpetual love and compassion for the farmers of northern Thailand.

The road we embarked upon six months ago is comparable to the isolated, switchback roads leading to the coffee farms in the mountains of northern Thailand where it sometimes feel like the final destination is nowhere to be seen. Persistence and ardor have been the fuels helping us reach our final destination of sharing this dream with the people of America and begin creating opportunities for growth and self-sufficiency within the farmers' hill tribe village.

Finally after months of collaborating and preparing for this moment, the coffee has almost reached its' destination in Tennessee and we can begin to share our dream with people like you. Every bean is a small piece of Doon's dream and our way to directly connect with the farmers in Thailand no matter where you are in the world.

Thanks for all of your support.

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.