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Doi Chang, Chiang Rai Overview

Known for its world-class coffee that rates in the top 1% of coffees in the world, Doi Chang is a coffee plantation in northern Thailand - a hidden gem for coffee aficionados. Located close to Chiang Rai, not only is the coffee of the highest quality, but the business here is fair trade. A trip to Doi Chang includes wandering the coffee plantations, watching the stages of cultivation and processing, interacting with the Doi Chang farmers, and learning more about the coffee-making process at the Doi Chaang Coffee Academy, making these hills an ideal destination for anyone who enjoys a great cuppa.

Doi Chang was the brainchild of King Bhumibhol Adulyadej who wanted to reduce the cultivation of opium by the local Akha tribe and provided them with Arabica coffee beans instead. This led to the creation of the Doi Chaang Coffee Original Cooperative Limited and subsequently the Doi Chaang Coffee Academy in 2007. Today, through cooperation between the farmers and the Doi Chaang Coffee Original Cooperative Limited, Doi Chang hills boasts of over 11,000 acres of land at a cool altitude of 1,300 metres. 

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The Coffee Farm

Doi Chang, meaning “Elephant Mountain”, is the name of the area while Doi Chaang is the name of the famous coffee company. Each year, it produces about two thousand tons of coffee. The coffee is organic – there are no fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides used.

It is an ideal place to see how coffee is made from scratch. The coffee cherries are harvested, sorted, and washed before being sent for ‘pulping’. This means taking out their skins with the help of machinery. The next step is natural fermentation where the beans are kept wet for 24 hours and then dry for another 24 hours. They are sun-dried for almost a week. Finally, they are stored in a weather-controlled warehouse. Doi Chaang produces 4 different grades of beans which are eventually roasted and sealed in 4-7 layer foil bags to be sold.

As the concept of defined ‘plots’ does not exist here, there aren’t any divisions in the land. As a visitor, one can take a guided tour with Doi Chaang or simply walk around. The farm here is actually a conglomeration of hundreds of smaller, individual-owned land operating together as a coffee collective. In recent years, the cooperative have started growing other products like oolong tea, macadamia nuts, and coffee blossom honey to diversify their incomes.

Doi Chaang Coffee House and Types of Coffee

The company sells a variety of brewed coffee and packaged coffee beans. Their products include the Espresso Supreme for around THB 250 a packet, Organic Signature for THB 320, Peaberry Classic for THB 370 and Premium Classic for THB 250. The Wild Civet Coffee is sold for THB 1,050.

At the Doi Chaang Coffee House, one can try the coffee the way it was meant to be made. It has a friendly, open atmosphere made with hard wood. The barista is located downstairs while the upstairs area has seating and a fantastic view of the entire coffee plantation. One can get a variety of coffees here like Americanos, lattes, cappuccinos, and espressos made with their amazing coffee machines and expertise. The waiters are also very chatty! They’ll be happy to talk to you about life at the plantations and, of course, their love for coffee.

Best Time to Visit

Like most farms, weather conditions play a large part in the activities at Doi Chang. The ideal time to visit is the months from October to March when coffee harvest and roasting is in full swing. In other months of the year, the plantations are open to visitors, but the lack of harvest means that there isn’t as much to see other than the coffee farm.

How To Reach Doi Chang

Doi Chang is located around 1 hour 30 minutes outside Chiang Rai. Head south from Chiang Rai on Highway 1. From the famous White Temple, turn right onto Highway 118. After almost half an hour of following the highway, one will find a small road to the right that leads to a fork with signs for Doi Chaang. 
 
This drive is said to be incredibly beautiful. It can be tricky as there are many roundabouts to go up the hill, but the view of the lush green plantations in the hills is magical. There are guest houses and lodges if you’d like to stay overnight, but the distance is enough to manage a day trip from Chiang Rai.

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