The premium coffee scene is growing faster than baristas in Brooklyn can pump out espresso. No longer are customers happy with house blend made from a drip machine. Coffee lovers crave a new single-origin coffee bean extracted with a new brewing method each time — from siphon to the Hario v60.
But, just where do these beans come from and how much of that three dollar cup of coffee actually goes to the farmer who picked the bean? That’s the question I recently set out to try and answer. And this answer starts with a trip to Laos and a guy named Tyson.
The morning sun filters through the humid air as Tyson Adams peels aside his mosquito net, rolls out of his bed and walks downstairs to turn on the hot water and the lights of Jhai Coffeehouse.
He sets up a scale and places some fresh ground coffee beans into his Aeropress to make his morning cup of java: a favorite coffee brewing technique made popular by Tim Ferriss.
After a few sips, tourists begin to wander into Jhai Coffeehouse: the world’s first completely philanthropic coffee roaster and cafe located at the source in Laos.
Tyson first ventured into Laos during a bit of vagabonding after leaving his home in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S: an area where entrepreneurs and full-fledged coffee snobs unite over a fresh brew. He noticed that the coffee farmers in Laos produce high-quality coffee (graded 85+) and yet are paid for low quality commodity-priced coffee.
Tyson looked around. The neighboring area desperately needed water wells, new schools, and, of course, it’s own coffee shop. And the farmers needed a fair share of the coffee sale.