Myanmar l Shwe Taung Thu l Dry Natural
Community name: Shwe Taung Thu
Farmer: U Nay Aung
Processing: Dry Natural
Altitude: 1,294 metres above sea level
Town / City: Ywangan
Overall: Bright, Darker Tones, Complex, Stone Fruits, Light brown sugar
Third world countries produce bad coffee is a common fallacy. The fact that countries such as Yemen, Papua New Guinea, Myanmar and Bolivia are still so entrenched in coffee tradition and are free from active industrialization pollution, they produce remarkable good coffee.
This coffee hits you with bright notes and complex flavors. The fruit forward flavor is both a surprisingly rounded and easy on the palate The sweetness ends with brown sugary tones.
This coffee makes a perfect espresso or filter.
Since late 2014, USAID and Winrock International, The Coffee Quality Institute and Atlas have collaborated on a Value Chains for Rural Development project to provide training, market access, agronomy, and business skills to smallholder coffee farmers in Southern Shan State. By all accounts, the project has been a resounding success for key stakeholders, not least of all, the coffee-growing communities in Southern Shan State from whom Atlas buys coffee. With the project’s end date slated for late 2019, one key to the continued success of the burgeoning specialty coffee market in Myanmar will be groups like Shwe Taung Thu.
The group started out as an internship for five leaders among the 18 coffee-producing communities, but in early 2018, several of the members realized that they would need to grow and evolve to take on a larger leadership role for their communities going forward. Come May 2018, the group Shwe Taung Thu, or “golden farmer” in Burmese, was born.
Shwe Taung Thu is an organization of 18 members with one elected member coming from each participating coffee-growing community. Five of these members meet fortnightly to improve matters pertaining to finance, technical support, and market linkages for all of its members. Shwe Taung Thu has secured a headquarters building, which it uses for cupping, training and events, including its annual General Assembly meeting in September.
In order for a village or community to have a representative as part of Shew Taung Thu (1-year term, max 5-year before needing to take 1-year hiatus before being reelected), it must have at least ten core members. Paying stakeholders of Shew Taung Thu have full access to training and profit sharing. Associate members are producers who sell cherry to the group. Currently Shwe Taung Thu has 400 core members (60% women) across the 18 communities, and 3,500 associate members.
As of December 2018, the group’s biggest challenge across the communities has been working through various agronomy issues and securing access to finance, but they are currently working on pre-harvest and milling/export finance for this coming crop season with both a local bank and international social lending bank.
Shwe Taung Thu has created a strong leadership structure for the communities going forward. Having spent several days with Soe Thinzar, the group’s Sales and Quality Control Director, we were encouraged and impressed by how his group of producers were equally motivated and driven to succeed. We look forward to working with Shwe Taung Thu and the communities it represents for a long time to come.