ABOUT... Akha Ama Coffee is a little organic coffee enterprise started by a young Akha friend (Lee), to support the farmers in his village & neighbouring communities in the Mae Suai area of Chiangrai province. It aims to foster & support sustainable farming practices & help the farmers gain access to both local & international markets for their crop. It is also seeking to obtain fairtrade certification for their products.
IN CHIANG MAI... Akha Ama Coffee has a cafe at its office in Chiangmai city, not far from the ITM & SMH massage schools north of the old city area. Address: 9/1 Mata Apartments, Hussadhisewee Soi 3, Chang Phuak, Muang Chiangmai 50300 Map with address in Thai (for local transport) Located at KF188-189 on this map Phone: +66 086 915 8600 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Akha Ama Coffee on facebook A review here.
IN CHIANG RAI... Lee has also started a series of coffee journeys, where visitors are brought on a 3D2N trip to his home village in the mountains of Chiangrai to trace the journey of coffee from seed to cup. Dates: 17-19 Dec 2010 (coincides with Akha New Year in his village) 28-30 Jan 2011 25-27 Feb 2011 Cost: 1900 baht More details of what's involved here (conditions to expect & cost breakdown) & here. A good review of & photos (1, 2, 3, 4) from earlier journeys.
Would recommend this for coffee lovers who want to transform the way they look at their brew, & also those with an interest in the culture & food of the Akha ethnic group, the challenges they face as a marginalised group in Thailand, the life of ordinary villagers in rural Thailand, & sustainable farming practices...as well as for anyone who has wondered about what goes into the magic potion that wakes many around the world up & fuels countless hours of overtime work & all-nighters for deadlines & exams.
Staying with this family usually means sleeping together with Mrs Barber & the 3 youngest kids (& YK & Aya if they're around) on the women's half of the house. On this visit the cat was puzzled to find itself having the entire house to itself come the family's ~21:00 bedtime every night. It'd leave the light on for them while wondering where on earth the entire family (save for the Master Basket Weaver who was away visiting another son in another village) could have gone at such a late hour (by village standards)...only for Mrs Barber to reappear at the usual 04:00 timing the next morning to start the fire for cooking rice...& the kids & Mr Barber to appear later...
& then it realised that the family had shifted over to this new hut they had built directly behind the house...
...in preparation for the dry season task of replacing the roof & making other repairs to the house.
Materials for home improvment - wood:
Bales of imperata grass stacked in every spare corner:
Getting a ride out to the highway - because he specifically asked for big fat photos of himself:
Giving him directions to Ban Apa, with Mr T slowly pushing the vehicle backwards:
Photo by the other HY
The driver brought us to another section of Mae Yao subdistrict where the tambon administrative offices were - along the way we noticed that we appeared to be travelling along the road to Ban Ruammit instead. Managed to redirect him to Thung Luang intersection & recognised the turn-off beside the temple to the Huay Mae Sai area...but ended up reaching Ban Apa after dark for one of the coldest showers ever (coldest is still the cold shower during the cold season cold wave in Oudomxay, Laos) :P
Just as the cat emerged from the house, a surprise was waiting outside - Mr Nailpolish Plant! He'd bumped into either Dr AFECT or Mr K in town, heard that we were back in Chiangrai, & stopped by Ban Apa on his way home to Ban Jalae to see if he could find us :)
Cute flower buds that look like fat little yellow satin pincushions:
School group - not sure if checking out the cultural exhibits or just seeking shade to hide in:
On the way to lunch:
Photo by the other HY
Mr Coffee had to change into full university uniform complete with tie & formal shoes. The National University of Singapore (NUS) alumni were all dressed in the T-shirt/bermudas/jeans/flip flops/sandals combo that is the 'uniform' of most undergraduates in 'forever summer 24/7/365' Singapore...
At one of the cafeterias:
NUS can eat dust when it comes to 'corporate identity':