Though agriculture is one of the main driving forces of the Laotian economy, coffee is not what Laos is known for. Production is low, especially in comparison to neighboring Vietnam, the 2nd largest world coffee supplier. Most of Laos' coffee is grown in an area called the Bolaven Plateau, a mountain range that is very near to the Vietnam border, with altitudes averaging 1200 meters, and micro-climates conducive to growing coffee. Part of the slow growth is the staggering amount of unexploded bombs (thought to be in the tens of millions), a bi-product of the Vietnam war. Coffee made it's way to Laos during the French colonial period in the early 20th C, and has remained a cash-crop for villagers in the Bolaven Plateau ever since.
This Laotian coffee is Brazil-like in many ways. The aroma has a smell of roasted nuts, and backed up with an unrefined-sugar sweetness. "Earth"-like suggestions and cocoa hints remain persistent, and give you a bit of an honest preview of what's to come. Flavors of raw sugars and walnut play off each other in a hot cup, and held together by a mild, tea-like acidity. Sweetness is bumped up a notch as the cup cools, and the coffee finishes with faint notes of cacao nib and raw tobacco off in the distance.