American cultivates the – K’Ho coffee brand
Last update: 14:00 | 10/05/2015
VietNamNet Bridge – Josh and his wife Rolan, a member of the K'Ho Cil tribe, have been regularly transporting coffee grown by her community near Lang Biang Mountain to Saigon since 2013.
Initially Josh, an American, was just trying to help the community find customers for their green arabica coffee beans, but over the past couple of years that has given rise to the impetus to create a branded roasted coffee product.
He first came to Vietnam in 2009 fresh out of a Michigan college to work for a Vietnamese travel agency specializing in organizing Vespa tours from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang, Dat Lat and a number of south-western provinces.
In 2010, as luck would have it, he met Co Lieng Rolan while escorting a group of tourists to Mong Mo hill in Da Lat. They subsequently married, built a comfortable word-frame house and had a son. That is when Josh got his first taste of the coffee business.
Although at the time, the coffee business was all new to him, he quickly mastered the techniques of growing, harvesting and processing arabica varieties in the fertile volcanic high-altitude soils.
But it was an organic farmers market in Ho Chi Minh City in 2012 that set him onto the idea of creating a brand for the community’s coffee. After the fair a large foreign coffee producer offered to purchase 20 tonnes of coffee annually after reviewing his operations.
Of course Josh turned down the offer because he wasn’t set up for that capacity of production, but the seed for the idea for the K’Ho Coffee brand for the community had been planted.
With a vision to creating a specialty coffee product that stood out from all the rest with uniqueness all its own, Josh scraped up the money to acquire a brand new 20 kilo CRM roasting machine.
He also came up with a simple design that is readily identifiable as the – the K’Ho Coffee’s label – which he has had copyrighted.
Since then Josh has also regularly convened groups from the community and led discussions that introduced the concept of specialty coffee, its place in the market, sustainability, and the importance of a transparency in the production methods used.
At these meetings the members of the local community have learned the importance of working collaboratively and sharing their different perspectives and techniques regarding coffee growing and processing.
As a result a lot of information is now being shared and one can clearly sense a stronger community in the K'Ho Cil tribe. All topics have been on the table at these discussions as they have touched on everything from the basics of hygiene and brewing to abstract latte art.
Technology has played a vitally important role in the success Josh has had with developing the community’s brand to date and he has expertly extended his business by connecting with American and European businesses via the Internet.
One of the community’s marketing techniques is to cater to tourists at the foothills of Langbiang, which attracts hundreds of thousands every year. Many of these tourists have said that the community’s coffee is some of the most consistently clean and delicious that they have ever tasted.
This heart-warming story of a young American and his commitment to develop a coffee brand for the K'Ho Cil gives one a lot of faith that the brand will be bearing fruit for many years into the future.