In Myanmar, we encountered a local Burmese brand of coffee called Genius Coffee. We came across it at Inle Lake, and we were curious to know more about the farm and story behind this local fair-trade coffee brand. The well-connected owner of the Trinity Inn Guesthouse that we stayed at knew the owner of Genius Coffee. She arranged for us to visit the coffee plantation and processing facilities in the Ywar Ngan township, which is about a 2 hour drive from the main Inle Lake region.
Ywar Ngan is a farm heavy region, where over 90% of its peope are small family farmers working between one and four acres, growing jackfruit, avocado and mango, in addition to coffee. The higher elevation of this region, between 3,100ft and 4,800ft, and the year-round cool temperatures, makes it ideal for coffee cultivation.
As foreign tourists in Myanmar, this was probably the most “off the beaten path” experience we had. At the Genius Coffee facilities, we saw the entire “bean to cup” process, from the coffee cherries growing on trees, from the washing and drying of the cherries, to very labour-intensive, hand sorting of the coffee beans, and the machinery for roasting.
There’s little English information available about the Genius Coffee production facilities, and we couldn’t find any official tours of this listed online. We didn’t see a single other foreign tourist during our day, so we were quite happy to find an activity which didn’t follow the typical tourist loop.
“Our coffee growers are members of the Danu Hill Tribe. Their knowledge of their lands and their partnership with Genius benefit their people by bringing much needed development to their villages. They also receive competitive compensation to provide for their families and ensure positive life out comes for their children. We also contribute to support local education, healthcare and forestry efforts. – Genius Coffee Website
See below for photos from our visit to the Genius Coffee Farm. At the end of this blog post, there’s a Google Map with a pin on the destination. To get there, best to hire a local driver from Inle Lake and show them the map.
Directions to Genius Coffee:
Other stops you could consider looping into your Genius Coffee visit include Ba Wa Sam Sa Ra Bridge, the Pagodas on Main-ma-ye Mountain, and a strange blue pool in Taw Kyal Village.