The next entry in our search for the best coffee in Thailand is Doi Inthanon (ดอยอินทนนท์), a 100% Arabica bean drip coffee which is roasted and sold by Cafe Amazon. Note that in our Thai coffee review series we are sampling first the offerings of Cafe Amazon, before moving on to other Thai coffees. Last time, we reviewed the Chiang Rai coffee Pha Lung, which is a light roast 100% Arabica bean coffee. Doi Inthanon is a medium to dark roast coffee grown in Chiang Mai province atop Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand, with an elevation over 2,500 meters above sea level.
Doi Inthanon has become famous as one of Thailand’s premier coffee growing regions thanks to the help of King Bhumibol the Great and the Royal Project Foundation. Many years ago King Bhumibol led an initiative to replace the growing of opium with coffee bean varieties highly suitable to the Doi Inthanon climate. Today, there are there are over 20 coffee growing farms on Doi Inthanon, covering an area over 9,500 rai (3,756 acres), including 88 hill tribe villages. The hill tribe coffee farmers produce over 500 tons of coffee per year, using farming methods that are a model for sustainable highland development.
In 2014, Cafe Amazon built a state-of-the art roasting facility, and began working closely with the Royal Project Foundation and Thailand’s coffee farmers, including those in Doi Inthanon, so as to ensure the profitability of their coffee bean farms and to promote Thai coffee to the largest possible audience in Thailand, as well as neighboring countries (as Cafe Amazon has over 3,300 coffee shops in Thailand and Southeast Asia). Cafe Amazon also arranged to have their Thai coffee brands served on flights by Thai Smile Airways, so that flyers could experience the best Thai coffee which previously they might never had tasted or heard about.
Doi Inthanon Coffee is a very good cup of coffee. Being a medium to dark roast coffee, Cafe Amazon ranks the flavor intensity at a 7, which seems about right, though in a blind test we would have probably given it a 6. There are no subtle floral notes in this Thai coffee, like there is in the Pha Lung coffee from Chiang Rai. It has a pleasant earthy taste, with a hint of grass. It indeed evokes the gentle, but robust atmosphere of the Doi Inthanon highlands. We conducted our black coffee taste test after lunch, and (unlike with Pha Lung) we felt no jitteriness, but experienced a clean uplifted feeling that effectively countered the sometimes tired feeling one gets after eating lunch. It gave us the necessary boost to finish off our afternoon on a high note. So, in our rankings we can say this the best Thai coffee of the two have tried so far.