I spent last weekend harvesting coffee with a small Akha hilltribe community through a very localized trek with Akha Ama Coffee. Akha Ama is a small coffee shop in Chiang Mai that exclusively distributes coffee produced in Mae Jan Tai village. The company was created by Lee, the first person in his village to be college educated, as a community development project to strengthen the local economy.
We stayed with the local farmers and learned about the entire process of coffee farming, harvesting and processing. We also learned how coffee production can be used as a poverty alleviation strategy if middlemen are cut out and local farmers are given the resources to control more of the process.