Nestled away in a corner of the Thap Thai sub district is Banrai Thummachot – Hua Hin’s first coffee plantation.
Owned and operated by Mr Prachak Thummachot, the plantation boasts a 2 rai plot of land dedicated to the growth of robusta coffee.
The plantation was established three years ago after Mr Prachak witnessed a lull in the coffee market and sought help from local farmers to learn more about the coffee trade.
Between 2014 and 2015 he spent time with visiting villagers working on coffee farms in Pa Mak, Sam Roi Yot, where discovered that there was actually little demand for coffee from the region.
“Back then, farmers could only sell their coffee for as little as 43 baht per kilogram”, Mr. Prachak told Hua Hin Today.
He explained that a lack of demand coupled with the fact that price of locally produced coffee was being further driven down by middlemen meant that coffee production was barely variable from a commercial viewpoint.
As part of his year long fact finding mission, Mr Pachak met with a local Robusta coffee growing expert known simply as “Gong Coffee”, who was instrumental in educating him about all things coffee, from growing and cultivation to making quality coffee, coffee processing and production for sale.
As he ventured into the cultivation of the crop himself, he discovered that the region’s climate and soil were ideal for growing robusta coffee.
While the region does not have the elevation needed to grow arabica coffee, for robusta coffee, it’s a different story.
Added to this was the fact that high quality coffee could be sold for 250 baht per kilogram; he set about turning his own land into a coffee plantation.
That’s when Ban Rai Thummachot was born.
Mr Prachak’s dedication to the art of coffee cultivation is evident in the organic methods he uses to grow the crop. Unlike other coffee plantations that rely heavily on chemical fertilizers and pesticides, Banrai Thummachot is an organic farm.
The use of natural fertilizers, such as manure and organic compost, has helped to preserve the soil’s health, ensuring that the crops remain healthy and free from disease.
“We take care of everything ourselves here, from picking the bean by hand to drying the coffee beans and then the roasting”, Mr Prachak said.
“We only pick and store the beans when the conditions are absolutely right before they are then roasted and packaged for sale”.
“As for roasting the beans, we used to use a large pan, but we quickly outgrew that”, Mr Prachak said.
“Now we have three small hand made roasters that can roast between 600g – 1.5 kg beans at a time.”
“Our roasting machines are unique and must be the only three that exist in the world”, Mr Prachak added.
Before taking an interest in coffee production, Mr. Prachak had a career in veterinary medicine and animal husbandry.
“I was thinking about changing my career and thought about creating an organic farm growing vegetables but when I started to learn about coffee, I realised I could start a coffee plantation”.
“I have grown pineapples in the past, and actually most of the farmers around here are growing pineapples. Some of the farmers think I am crazy for growing coffee but I wanted to show people that they can make money for themselves by farming coffee”, Mr. Prachak explained.
“I also wanted to help establish Hua Hin as a region for coffee growing. There is a misconception that you can not grow coffee in Hua Hin, but I am showing people that you can.”
Mr. Prachak said his aim over the coming years is to continue to grow the very best quality coffee possible but also teach others about coffee farming.
He says he would like to see Banrai Thummachot become a hub of economic empowerment for the local community.
“Unlike pineapples, which have to be sold before they rot, if they are stored correctly, coffee beans can be kept for up to five years without impacting the taste, which means it gives farmers a longer term option for generating income,” he said.
The plantation is also starting to become a popular attraction for coffee lovers and tourists alike. People can visit the farm and learn about the coffee-making process, from seed to cup every Friday and Saturday
Coffee from Banrai Thummachot can be purchased via their Facebook page or by calling 081-3780585 (Thai).
Banrai Thummachot also regularly features a number of local markets, including the Green Market which takes place at Market Village Hua Hin.
Earlier this year, Banrai Thummachot received the second prize in the national selection of outstanding farmers for the fiscal year 2023 at the Farmer’s Award for Organic and Integrated Crops (Representatives from the Office of Agricultural Research and Development Region 7).
All images: Patrick Jacobs