A few months back, another co-founder and I were invited to take a couple hour trip from the city of Chiang Rai to visit coffee farms in northern, rural Thailand. We spent the day hand picking coffee side-by-side with some of the most hardworking, dedicated people I have ever met in my life. Coffee, the second most traded commodity in the world, is something that has become an integrated part of millions of people's lives across the country, but its' story is still a mystery to many.
After hours of backbreaking work, we were invited to the farmer's "break hut" to enjoy a delicious, homemade meal prepared on palm branches. This hut, framed with bamboo and roofed with metal, is used for protection from the elements and a time to relax and share meals with one another. I attempted to gracefully sit cross-legged on top of their bamboo floor as I anxiously waited for the meal that the farmers around me were describing as "pet maak" (very spicy).
No matter how many giggles I heard from the farmers laughing at our constant sniffles because of the spices, I focused every part of me on the environment that I was in. The rough bamboo flooring, the spicy taste on my lips, the cool mountain breeze, and the smell of the fire nearby are some things that I will never forget about that day.
I was blessed to be given that experience. Every day farmers hand pick coffee for hours on end, haul hundreds of pounds of coffee up an unpaved mountainous road on their back, and meticulously process the coffee so that it can hopefully be referred to as a brown, roasted gold.
To be the hands and feet of a process that is so forgotten in a world that is fueled by the product that it creates is something that I will never forget. Knowing the story of a person or product is one thing, but to experience it first hand helps you truly understand.
As Kao Jai Coffee ventures forward working with farming families in Northern Thailand, I want to invite people to be a part of this movement of better understanding others through experiencing things first hand. Reach out and connect with us to better understand what we do and why we do it.