History of Coffee in the Kingdom of Cambodia: Currently there is very little information on the history of coffee in Cambodia. It is known that coffee was first introduced to Cambodia by the French during the same period as it was introduced in Vietnam and Laos. The coffee grown in Cambodia is primarily robusta coffee, and though the stories of the arabica coffee being grown are quite numerous, the elevations in Cambodia very rarely exceed 800 meters (2624 ft.) making it difficult to grow any arabica coffee, other than hybrids such as the catimor hybrid variety.
The Annamite Mountains that extend through both Vietnam and Laos also make up the Cambodian northeastern “highlands” of Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri Provinces. The predominant red soil of these provinces is excellent for a multitude of crops including rubber, most tropical fruits, black pepper, cassava, cashews, and of course coffee. Coffee farmers in these highlands are primarily made up of the indigenous tribes that have lived in the area since before the well-known Angkor Era of Cambodia’s history. Even now their tribal customs and language have changed little and they remain a primarily agricultural people. They have always planted rice, though other crops such as coffee have been successfully introduced into their agricultural repertoire over the years.
Currently the amount of Cambodian plantations cultivating and harvesting coffee is in a strong decline. Over the last 10 years, the number of known coffee plantations has been reduced by at least 70%, and the total amount of green coffee beans that are produced is unknown since most of the beans are obtained by Vietnamese middle-men to be mixed with and sold as Vietnamese coffee, or they are sold and roasted locally. The Cambodian coffee industry currently has no market available for their green or roasted coffee beans due to the lack of quality control at the plantations and the roasters alike. (Here is how we plan to change this.)