Tag Archive for: Doichaang Coffee Shops

by Maxim Vershinin

Retailer Profile: From Thailand with Love

Categories: 2012, FebruaryTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

We have done café pro­files all over the U.S., and sev­eral in Peru and Russia. This month we are con­tin­u­ing our inter­na­tional explo­ration with the best in Thailand – get ready for Doichaang Coffee Shops to blow your mind away fel­low cof­fee freaks!

I had restau­rants and hotels, but I sold them all to go up to the moun­tains and work with cof­fee farm­ers 12 years ago,” – replied Wicha Promyong, the Doi Chaang Coffee Co.’s pres­i­dent, when I asked him how he got into the cof­fee business.

It seems like suc­cess inevitably fol­lows the foot­steps of a tal­ented busi­ness­man: Wicha sold every­thing to seek a quiet refuge in the Thai moun­tains, but 12 years later found him­self run­ning one the best cof­fee com­pa­nies in the coun­try. Wicha’s Doi Chaang now owns 20 cof­fee shops in Thailand, sup­plies cof­fee to 300 oth­ers, and his cof­fee con­sis­tently ranks among the top in the world.

Let’s talk to the man:

V. Many cafes in U.S. like to announce them­selves as being green and organic as soon as they receive the first deliv­ery of biodegrad­able cof­fee cups, but you guys are really tak­ing it all the way. Look at this jun­gle that you have built here: water­fall, gar­den with plants all over, and lots of organic prod­ucts for sale. This is a beau­ti­ful shop! What is its his­tory?
W. Thank you (smiles). Well, this is our very first shop that got opened 9 years ago. I opened it so that peo­ple could try our cof­fee and know how it tastes; how­ever, I have never pre­dicted such rapid growth and pop­u­lar­ity. A per­son would come in, try our cof­fee and tell 5 oth­ers – it is magic what word of mouth can do. As far as the design in this par­tic­u­lar shop I have used a tra­di­tional Thai style of build­ing that brings the nature inside and makes the atmos­phere really peaceful.

V. Could you tell our read­ers a bit about cof­fee cul­ture in Thailand – how did it progress over time?
W. In the old days in Thailand, peo­ple mostly drank instant cof­fee with con­densed milk. Then Starbucks came along and intro­duced the cul­ture of drink­ing fresh cof­fee, so now the major­ity of con­sumers turned to fresh brew. They know how to drink cof­fee, and instant cof­fee con­sump­tion has got­ten lower and lower espe­cially in the last 3 years.

V. How did you man­age to acquire enough exper­tise and knowl­edge to open up and oper­ate one of the best cof­fee shop chains in Thailand?
W. Simple. I just went around the world, looked at the way good shops were oper­ated, and drank cof­fee here and there slowly learn­ing day by day.

V. You have trav­eled the world exten­sively, what makes Doi Chaang cof­fee shops unique among oth­ers?
W. I think the biggest “unique” fac­tor for us is that 100% of the cof­fee in our cof­fee shops comes from our own plan­ta­tion in Doi Chang province. We sell only what we grow and process at the plan­ta­tion. However, because of that we have a lit­tle prob­lem now: our cof­fees are being sold really well, but the demand has got­ten too high. From Malaysia to Australia peo­ple are com­ing to us, but we don’t have cof­fee to sell because we sell only what we produce.

V. How is your com­pany plan­ning on resolv­ing this sit­u­a­tion?
W. We have expanded by 8000 acres in the Doi Chaang area, but we have to wait for another 3 years for the plants to suf­fi­ciently grow. In the future, we will be able to pro­duce about 2000 tons a year, so it’s just a mat­ter of time.

V. You have men­tioned that Starbucks con­tributed to cof­fee cul­ture progress in Thailand, but do you see more and more peo­ple choos­ing Doi Chaang cof­fee shops over Starbucks in Thailand?
W. You know yes, inde­pen­dent cof­fee shops are becom­ing much more pop­u­lar in Thailand, espe­cially with locals. They try our cof­fee once and always come back again. Maybe around 8 per­cent of our cus­tomers are for­eign­ers: the major­ity is still walk­ing the floors of Starbucks.

V. Wicha I think what you have man­aged to cre­ate with Doi Chaang Coffee Company is absolutely genius! What is the secret behind it?
W. I think the secret behind it all is – happy farm­ers. We pay them $1 per kilo of cher­ries! It used to be 12 to 15 cents per kilo before, and now it is $1. Plus our farm­ers col­lec­tively own 50% of the com­pany, so they receive part of the company’s prof­its in addi­tion to their sales. This is the way cof­fee busi­ness should be – not just one man mak­ing all the money – farm­ers should make good money too because they are the ones who produce.

V. Having done so much for the com­pany and the farm­ers, what is the biggest reward for you to be part of all this?
W. Maybe I am get­ting old, but I don’t need money any­more. The money that I make I use to build schools and hos­pi­tals. In this stage of my life, I am con­cerned about help­ing oth­ers to achieve their goals, and trav­el­ing the world to demon­strate that our model can be applied to any place around the world.

Doi Chaang Coffee Company
Wicha Promyong
t: (+66) 86 071‑7403