Three Corner Coffee Roasters – Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Three Corners Coffee Roasters.

Coming from Portland, Oregon, when I first landed in Cambodia I had a hard time finding good coffee.  By “good” I mean, not mass produced instant coffee with powered milk and sugar already mixed in and not Khmer coffee with canned sweet milk.  I was so excited when I found Three Corner Coffee Roasters.  It is hands down the best coffee I’ve been able to find in Cambodia.  As an added bonus, it’s

Three Corner Coffee Roaster currently sources its Cambodian Robusta coffee from both the Khmer and indigenous growers in Mondulkiri Province.  Using the “direct trade” method, they hope that increasing the demand for their green coffee beans at good prices, will encourage farmers to continue to grow coffee and  as a social enterprise, Three Corner Coffee is dedicated to developing the coffee industry in Cambodia in such a way that is sustainable, culturally sensitive, and maximizes the social benefits to these farming communities.

History of Coffee in the Kingdom of Cambodia:  Currently there is very little information on the history of coffee in Cambodia. It is known that coffee was first introduced to Cambodia by the French during the same period as it was introduced in Vietnam and Laos. The coffee grown in Cambodia is primarily robustacoffee, and though the stories of the arabica coffee being grown are quite numerous, the elevations in Cambodia very rarely exceed 800 meters (2,624 feet) making it difficult to grow any arabica coffee, other than hybrids such as the catimor hybrid variety.

The Annamite Mountains that extend through both Vietnam and Laos also make up the Cambodian northeastern “highlands” of Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri Provinces. The predominant red soil of these provinces is excellent for a multitude of crops including rubber, most tropical fruits, black pepper, cassava, cashews, and of course coffee. Coffee farmers in these highlands are primarily made up of the indigenous tribes that have lived in the area since before the well-known Angkor Era of Cambodia’s history. Even now their tribal customs and language have changed little and they remain a primarily agricultural people. They have always planted rice, though other crops such as coffee have been successfully introduced into their agricultural repertoire over the years.

Currently the amount of Cambodian plantations cultivating and harvesting coffee is in a strong decline. Over the last 10 years, the number of known coffee plantations has been reduced by at least 70% and the total amount of green coffee beans that are produced is unknown since most of the beans are obtained by Vietnamese middle-men to be mixed with and sold as Vietnamese coffee or they are sold and roasted locally. The Cambodian coffee industry currently has no market available for their green or roasted coffee beans due to the lack of quality control at the plantations and the roasters alike.  But Three Corners Coffee Roasters is planning on changing that.

At Three Corner Coffee they are committed to:

The Industrial Development of Cambodia – through directly challenging the current industrial standards, not only at Cambodia’s national level, but also at the international level. To help to produce and promote 100% Khmer products that have a high standard of hygiene and quality, giving Cambodians the ability to compete in today’s and tomorrow’s global economy.

The Helping of Underprivileged Cambodian Men and Women – by providing a safe and supportive work environment that allows them to take care of themselves while on their road to recovery. To provide on-the-job training to these men and women, so they will gain confidence in themselves and their work, later benefiting them in their search for a good job.

One way they do this is via the White Lotus Project that are employed by Three Corner Coffee Roaster make up a very important part of the team and deserve credit for their work, but not in such a way that would compromise the healing the women are undergoing.  Three Corners Coffee Roasters chooses to support these women by providing them a safe and supportive working environment through which they can receive job training that is critical to their future success.  Three Corners Coffee Roasters wants for them to go beyond the labels placed on them and to find success in their own lives, so they also respect their right to privacy.

Providing the Best Quality Products to Responsible Consumers – by making sure that every step of the coffee roasting process, from bean to bag, is at, or higher than, the top of the industry’s standards: from the agricultural sector, where they cooperate with farmers, using the direct trade model, to help them produce premium grade coffee beans; to the production sector, where they double, and triple, check their coffee as a part of their regular routine.

 Know of any social good coffee roasters around the world?  Leave a comment and let me know about them.

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