However, the owner is worried as coffee supplies are falling short to meet the ever-growing demand
LHAKPA TSHERING | Thimphu
If there is one commodity that ensures a constant demand, it is local coffee. It is one of the few enterprises with a thriving business with the rise of coffee culture and new coffee trends in the country.
With many coffee lovers showing they will go out of their way to stop by their favorite local shop, Bhutan Mountain Coffee produced by Mountain café in Paro prides itself on producing high-quality and fresh local coffees (Bhutan Mountain Coffee) for its customers.
The café roasts local beans at its roasting facility while coffee enthusiasts and lovers simply pour in. It has plenty of local coffee choices and has become a popular place to grab a cup of coffee in Paro.
Karma Chime, the founder of Mountain café, said, coffee is an everyday experience for many people, and he wants to bring the coffee experience to a new level. “We produce organic coffee beans and focus on serving quality coffees,” he said.
He adds that the coffee business might have something to do with how it pleases the drinker’s palettes. “All feedback we receive from the customers has been positive and we are really encouraged by it,” he said.
Chime takes great pride in his enthusiasm and his staff’s ability to cater to the client’s demands. “As of now, we did not experience marketing challenges. We roast based on our requirements and orders taken from other coffee cafes,” he said.
Karma Chime yearned to create a business less centered on turning profits and more on helping coffee farmers and the community.
“Interested farmers in Samtse wanting to grow coffee have been provided with free saplings. Farmers have a great interest in coffee production. We are growing saplings to further distribute in other southern belts,” he added.
The hardships coffee farmers face because of disadvantageous marketing challenges in the past years left the coffee farmers disappointed.
With that mission in mind, Karma Chime says, “I wanted to fix it. We go to their houses to collect the coffee cherry and now, farmers are reaping the rewards. It is a fair trade without the involvement of middlemen.”
He believes buying from local growers and keeping revenue within the community that the government is supportive of plays a big role in the success of local coffee.
“We intend to sign contracts with the farmers and community farmer groups to supply high-quality coffee,” says Karma Chime.
This, however, is not an easy feat. “The future of local coffee is unknown, as challenges like getting government lands on lease for the production remain,” he added.
However, he expects the government will provide the necessary support to encourage entrepreneurs and coffee farmers. “This will encourage more people in coffee farming and replace the imports of coffees,” he said.
“Without their support, the local cultivators will not be able to meet the demand with the reopening of international tourism. It will also hurt the sustainability goals,” says Karma Chime.
Mountain café has expanded from Paro town to other places including the airport and capital Thimphu. In general, it is a thriving business with a high growth market and he plans to open an outlet in Phuentsholing and gradually go international.
The café’s vision for the future is to be the leading coffee brand by supporting local coffee farmers and bringing curiosity to the different blends of coffee.
Besides local coffee, it also provides different blends of coffee to support different cultural moments.
Meanwhile, when many businesses were cutting staff at the height of the pandemic due to a loss of revenue, Mountain café retained all its employees with full salaries throughout the pandemic.