When you think of major coffee countries, odds are that Vietnam does not jump to your mind. Yet in recent years, Vietnam has shot up through the world’s coffee exporting ranks, now second only to Brazil in tons of coffee exported nationally.
This rapid rise from utter anonymity in the coffee-producing world to its current exporting prowess has put the country at the center of a global economic controversy, as countries from Colombia to Tanzania blame Vietnam for contributing to the swell of coffee supply and plummeting prices. No small fact, considering that coffee is the world’s second-most widely traded commodity, second only to petroleum, according to TechnoServe.
Vietnam’s recent ascent in the coffee-growing world is not its first foray in the trade. Before the Vietnam war, it was a “major exporter,” according to Scott Wilson of the Washington Post. French colonists introduced coffee to the country’s central highlands region late in the 19th Century, and this proved to be a fertile are for growing coffee.
Between the many years of war on its soil and the Communist government has ruled since, Vietnamese coffee exporting prowess became a thing of the past until the early 1980s, when it quietly reentered the global coffee market.