Beneficial Beans

One of the most popular new brands of coffee around the world is from somewhere you wouldn’t normally expect: a small rural area in Northern Thailand called Doi Tung. Developed as part of the Thai initiative to replace the region’s traditional heroin production with something more socially acceptable, the Doi Tung villagers, who are part of a tribal minority, farm coffee beans instead of poppies, with government subsidization. However, coffee beans are only valuable when there’s a market for them, and, as part of their continuing efforts to support developing countries, this is where Yuki’s Josai Hospital stepped in to help.

Josai Hospital has a long history of providing assistance to countries in the Asian region as part of the Japanese International Friendship and Welfare Foundation (JIFF) founded by the hospital’s lead doctor. Starting in 1982 JIFF has worked with refugees in Indo-China, Vietnam, and Afghanistan, forming teams to provide medical care in Thailand and other regions, and building relationships with regional hospitals. As a further step towards supporting the infamous Golden Triangle region (known for drug production) Josai Hospital built a coffee shop within their main building specifically for the sale and consumption of Doi Tung products.

Stepping inside the front door you might be forgiven for not thinking it is a hospital; photo montages of the Doi Tung tribespeople and their home decorate the walls along with tribal textiles. A short walk forward is the coffee shop counter and its menu of hot and cold delicacies, including caramel lattes, americanos, and some sinfully delicious cakes and dainties. After that the room opens into a café area, with tables and chairs formed from beautifully grained natural wood, complete with a gift shop section proferring Doi Tung crafts for sale. It is light and airy, with pleasant music in the background, and it is not until the odd patient or doctor happens by that you are reminded it is a medical facility. In fact, the first three floors of this area are dedicated to the Doi Tung coffee shop, open to both residents and visitors during operating hours, with the profits going back to the Doi Tung villagers.

Though the café only just opened in July of 2012, the hospital hopes that it will be welcomed by the greater community and help provide vital support to future development efforts in the Greater Mekong Region and Doi Tung in particular. If you’re in the mood for some delicious, and ethically conscious, coffee, be sure to drop by!

For more info about Yuki, please see our homepage!

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