Doi Huai Hom Coffee - For The Finest Arabica Beans...

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by Kiwi Cruiser, May 6, 2018.

  1. Kiwi Cruiser

    Kiwi Cruiser Ben Kemp
    Staff Member

    May 26, 2007
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    If you are taking a leisurely trip from Mae Sariang to Mae Hong Son, an excellent diversion can be made at Mae La Noi. Turning onto Route 1266 and driving 30 kilometres into the mountains to the east, you will eventually find the village of Doi Huai Hom. There days, the road is sealed all the way, although a couple of short sections are badly potholed. You need to watch for loose grit on top of the sealed surface on some corners - and cow hazards are not uncommon.

    The Doi Huai Hom village is populated by the Pakakayor ethnic group (Karen). It is thought to be the first community in Thailand to raise sheep to produce woollen cloth. US missionaries visiting in 1957 encouraged the inhabitants to raise sheep and grow coffee plants.

    On a visit in 1970, the King and Queen of Thailand expressed concern over the level of deforestation and the general poor quality of life. The King returned in 1978, and recommeded that the villagers dig three catch-basins / reservoirs to store water in the course of the small Huai Ba Khi stream. Over the next decade, the villagers dug the reservoirs with hoes and shovels, and these still provide drinking water to the village. In 1980 the Mae La Noi Royal Project Development Centre was founded, with the objective of researching suitable highland crops for local introduction. The Queen helped improve the quality of sheep fleeces by importing breeds better suited to the local environment.

    Arabic Coffee Production
    The 1,300+ metre elevation has proven to be ideal for the cultivation of Arabica coffee. The village income is predominantly coffee beans and traditional woven Karen clothing, some of which is made from wool produced by the sheep that the villager raise on hillsides nearby.


    The quality of the Arabica coffee is renowned far and wide - worldwide in fact. Many tours include a visit to this OTOP village, and to a nearby Lawa Hill Tribe village.

    OTOP is the acronym for One Tambon, One Product, a government initiative to encourage local places to focus on the best products for their location. Be it ethnic weaving, ceramics or horticultural production, the idea is to have the best of the best on offer.

    The OTOP program was aimed to support locally made and marketed products of each of Thailand's 7,255 tambons (sub-district). Drawing its inspiration from Japan's successful One Village One Product (OVOP) program, the OTOP program encourages village communities to improve the quality and marketing of local products, selecting one superior product from each tambon to receive formal branding as its "starred OTOP product". It provides both a local and national stage to the promote these products. OTOP includes a large array of local products, including traditional handicrafts, cotton and silk garments, pottery, fashion accessories, household items, and foods.

    Climbing out from 108 on the 1266, views are spectacular.

    1-IMG_2530. 1-IMG_2531. 2-IMG_2505.

    At the intersection of 1266 and 4006 is a pleasant lookout point, you can pull off the road and park in the temple grounds.

    2-IMG_2506. 2-IMG_2508. 2-IMG_2509.

    2-IMG_2512. 2-IMG_2514.

    The village of Ban La Oop, just before the lookout point, has a new noodle shop & mini-mart, plus an upmarket gas station..


    A little further along 1266, a nice lookout parking area allows you to frame your shots...


    And 5 kms further along you will find the turnoff to the left, the side road leading 1 km down to the Doi Huai Hom village.


    Racks are evident alongside houses - sometimes covered in beans, other times in chilis.

    6-IMG_2490. 6-IMG_2491.

    Beside the road, part of the coffee bean processing equipment.

    - and at the intersection, turn right into the community shop.


    There is a parking area big enough to turn the Hilux around, so no problem on a big bike.


    Downstairs, there is a coffee sampling area - try a cup before you buy a bag of beans...


    Upstairs, the somewhat less than sturdy veranda offers spectacular views...

    6-IMG_2495. 6-IMG_2496.
    An array of cotton and woolen clothing items are on display.


    The roasted Arabica coffee beans are a modest 400 baht a kilogram when you buy direct from the source! Its a nice trip up here - I buy 4 kgs at a time so I have an excuse to go back again in 3 or 4 months time. We've been visiting 3 or 4 times a year for the past 8 years so we are almost family. :)


    As you make your way back down the mountain, there's a nice parking area at the little Natee Rachan Waterfall, a good place to park and have that cold drink you bought at the mini-mart back up the hill...

    7-IMG_2515. 7-IMG_2518. 7-IMG_2521.
    Its only a small set of falls by the end of dry season, but by July / August has better flows.

    All in all, if you are a lover of coffee, the beans from Doi Huai Hom will give you something to smile about for weeks to come as you brew them up - another one of Thailand's little "hidden treasures".
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  2. Big_Dave

    Big_Dave Ol'Timer

    Apr 21, 2016
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    Loved the place. Wet season is spectacular riding...but as Kiwi mentioned...lots of livestock on the road. Landslides etc are also another common hazard in the mountainous areas as we all know. We spent a night at the coffee shop, great view and very peaceful. Definitely a must see place IMG_20170804_155501. IMG_20170804_140137. IMG_20170804_141829.
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    Jan 16, 2003
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    That's always a great ride out there.

    The Huai Hom coffee story is a success beauty too if it ever was.

    That big Lawa / Lua village Mae La Up / Oop is also quite a place to visit.

    For the adventurous from the R1266 you can connect up with Mae Chaem or R1270 if you want to take a look around.
    There is excellent potential in there for loops or day trips from Mae Sarieng / Mae Chaem.
  4. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    Dec 9, 2008
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    Thank you Ben. That ride is on the list. Maybe combined with picking up the 1270 down to Kong Loi, that all looks like wonderful riding.

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