The History of Coffee in French Indo-China (Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia): Coffee culture in French Indo-China is a comparatively small factor in international trade, although production is currently on the increase with Vietnam holding second only to Brazil in its green robusta coffee exports. The first experiments with coffee growing were begun in 1887, near Hanoi in Tonkin. The seeds were of the arabica coffee, brought from Réunion, France, and the production from the first years was distributed throughout Vietnam to foster the industry. Eventually arabica coffee was found unsuitable to the soil and climate, and experiments were begun with the robusta coffee and other hardier types.
A survey of the industry of the country in 1916 showed that the robusta coffee was being successfully grown in the provinces of Tonkin, Annam, and Cochin-China, and that altogether there were about 1,000,000 trees in bearing. The plantations are mostly in the foot-hills of the mountain ranges or on the slopes, although a few are located near the coast line at 300 meters (1,000 ft.), or even just above sea-level.
The larger and more successful plantations follow advanced methods of planting and cultivating, while the government maintains experimental stations for the purpose of fostering the industry. It was believed that French Indo-China in coming years would assume an important position in the coffee trade of the world, particularly as a supply source for France.