Up in the lush highlands where Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand meet lies a jungle wilderness on the shore of the Mekong River. This remote area is the key to understanding the tangled relationship between opium, coffee, and conflict in Southeast Asia.

Thailand’s success in transforming this region’s drug trade into a booming coffee growing industry is now used as a case study for effective strategies in international development. The government didn’t just try to introduce Arabica coffee production; they supplemented their efforts with research to help farmers.

For decades, tribal people had lived in fear of drug syndicates that were as powerful as they were violent. Nor did this just stop with the introduction of the ITDP.

1. Superior flavour. The difference in taste between a fresh-roasted coffee and the vacuum-sealed varieties found in supermarkets is huge. (Comparing the two is like comparing a fresh-baked loaf of bread to the foil-wrapped stuff you find in the frozen food section). Freshly roasted coffee is the only coffee that contains true coffee flavour at its absolute best. Whereas, “aged” coffee can taste stale and bitter, fresh-roasted coffee is naturally sweet and lively. Furthermore, the distinct flavour profiles of certain beans (e.g. citrus, cherry, tobacco) have a much stronger presence and are easier to pick out in a truly fresh cup of coffee.