Previously we talked about how Tak province produces some of the best Robusta coffee in Thailand. A close competitor are the coffee growers in nearby Kanchanaburi province. These farmers, like those in Tak, are largely members of the Karen mountain tribe. In recent years, they have developed boutique coffee plantations in the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, where they have lived for generations.
The Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary (เขตรักษาพันธุ์สัตว์ป่าทุ่งใหญ่นเรศวร) covers an area of approximately 3,622 square kilometers (1,399 square miles). The densely forested area spans parts of the Kanchanaburi, Tak, and Uthai Thani provinces in Western Thailand, and shares its western border with Myanmar (Burma). Established in 1974, it is one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in Southeast Asia.
Thungyai Naresuan is renowned for its rich biodiversity and is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species. The sanctuary provides habitat for many endangered species, including Asian elephants, tigers, leopards, gaurs (Indian bison), dholes (Asian wild dogs), and various species of primates. In recognition of its ecological significance, Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.
Most of the Kanchanaburi coffee plantations are located within Sangkhla Buri District (อำเภอสังขละบุรี), a mountainous area inside the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary. As the Thai coffee farms operate within this protected area, they strictly follow organic practices, and operate in sustainable ways that don’t harm the surrounding wildlife and ecosystem. On the conservation front, they have been helped greatly by the Seub Nakhasathien Foundation (มูลนิธิสืบนาคะเสถียร), which helps to preserve natural sanctuaries in Thailand.
Kanchanaburi coffee growing villages, such as Ban Kho Sa Doeng (บ้านเกาะสะเดิง), Ban Salawa (บ้านสาละ), and Ban Lai Wo (บ้านไล่โว่), have an elevation of 400-600 meters above sea level, and rich, fertile soil. They are located among the Tenasserim Hills, which in Thai are called Thio Khao Tanao See (ทิวเขาตะนาวศรี). This low level mountain chain serves as a barrier between Thailand and Burma to the West.
A Thai Robusta coffee usually has a richer, more bitter flavor than an Arabica bean coffee, as we found during our taste test of Mo Kro Robusta coffee. However, the Kanchanaburi Robusta that we purchased from Sweet Roastery was a medium roast with a milder, more fruity taste. It is a delicious, highly drinkable Robusta coffee that can easily be enjoyed black, as there are distinct floral, nutty, and honey notes.
This Thai Robusta was roasted from beans grown in the village of Ban Kho Sa Doeng, Kanchanaburi. Robusta coffees from other villages nearbly have also been described as having a milder and fruitier taste, with a full aroma that you feel you can almost touch. The caffeine level seemed quite moderate, providing a mild and smooth pick-me-up.
So, we can definitely rank the Kanachaburi Robusta coffee grown in the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary as among the best Thai Robusta coffees, one that is especially suitable for a rainy afternoon coffee while surveying the Thai countryside.