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A World Perspective with Lanna Coffee

Jul 26, 2016 10:00AM ● Published by Jordan Venema

Cups of Hope

August 2016
By Jordan Venema
Photo: Ellie Koleen

The word translates to “land of a thousand rice fields,” but “Lanna” has come to mean hope for many Thai families.

“Lanna is a tribute to the northern part of Thailand where there is pride about providing rice for the rest of the country,” says Bryan Feil, CEO of Lanna Coffee Co. “It started as a nonprofit organization with the goal of sending money back to help villagers live sustainable lives.” 

In 2015, Lanna Coffee Co. branched off from nonprofit Lanna Foundation, which originally began through mission trips sponsored by Fresno’s Well Community Church.  

“The villagers grow and harvest the coffee,” says Feil, “and people would bring the coffee back and sell it to church congregants, and it was always like a dream to share the stories of these people in Thailand.” 

Lanna Coffee purchases its coffee directly from nonprofit Integrated Tribal Development Program (ITDP), which began in the late 1950s and helps 20 villages made up of about 400 families.

“Many farmers used to grow opium in the ‘60s and ‘70s,” says Feil. “Mike Mann, who runs ITDP in Thailand, his dad worked with the king of Thailand to bring this coffee project to the villagers.” The money raised through selling coffee has helped ITDP “create education facilities, over 500 clean water wells, as well as a healthcare clinic in a centralized village.” 

One such project was a kindergarten through sixth grade school that was built centrally among the villages. Housing developments were built near the school for children who otherwise would walk as many as four hours daily to and from school. This doesn’t just offer children more resources through education, but is also helping to prevent child sex trafficking, which is a problem in Thailand.

By becoming a for-profit company, Lanna hopes to become more financially sustainable so it may continue sourcing coffee through ITDP. That means Lanna is diversifying its roasts to match its beans’ regional sources. 

“Beforehand, we had a light roast, medium roast and dark roast, and that’s it,” says Feil. “But we source our coffee from 20 villages, and every single coffee, even if they’re 200, 300 feet difference in elevation, is going to be different. We’ve realized that we need to treat and respect each coffee differently.”

Now Lanna offers a Honey, Decaf, French, House, and Artisan Roast, as well as serving bottled cold brew, which sells in local grocers Vons and Whole Foods, as well as Visalia’s Charcuterie. 

For Lanna, this isn’t just an opportunity to bring sustainability to farmers in Thailand, but also to bring quality coffee to the Fresno area. 

“In Fresno there is, I think, only three other roasters beside us,” says Feil. “So we have a huge opportunity to bring more of the third-wave specialty coffee to Fresno.” And according to Feil, Thai coffee is a unique bean that is only just breaking into the wider market. “It’s a fun niche in the coffee world,” he says.

Though Thai coffee may only make up a small corner of the world market, Lanna will ship a 12-ounce bag to your front door for as little as $15. The company also sells and ships 2.2 pound bags and K-Cups, all of which can be purchased directly through their website. 

So in a very direct way, your morning cup of coffee has the potential to send children to school and bring medical aid to remote parts of Thailand – and that’s much better than a jolt of caffeine to get your day started.

Lanna Coffee Co., Fresno

(888) 249-2645 • www.lannacoffeeco.com

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