In November of 2023 I was running my first photography tour in the central Highlands of Vietnam. I had been visiting this area previously but never at that time of the year, during the coffee harvest. I expected great coffee harvest photo opportunities, as well as coffee drying. But I didn’t expect to encounter such photogenic scenes in the coffee factories of Vietnam.
Vietnam is one of the world top coffee producer
“Vietnam has established itself as a significant player in the global coffee market. The country has consistently ranked among the top coffee producers in the world, primarily due to the widespread cultivation of Robusta coffee, which thrives in the country’s diverse climate and topography.” And thank you Chat GPT!
Most of the coffee in Vietnam is grown in the central highlands, in the region of Dak Lak, Dalat and Bao Loc. If you travel there at any time of the year you will almost constantly be surrounded by coffee fields. I decided to run this photography tour in November as it is the beginning of the coffee harvest in this area and it iffers many great photo opportunities.
Vietnam coffee “wet processing factories”
Little information is available online about these factories, so the little information I have is coming from talking to the people working in these factories. I also found this information:
“[ The coffee wet processing]… is a popular processing technology today and is applied in many other countries around the world. Coffee fruits are removed the skin and pulp from the bean while the they are still moist.” (source)
From what I understood, there are several ways of processing coffee, depending on the quality. The coffee beans are supposed to be dried in the sun, before removing the husk and roasting the coffee beans. In order to make the process faster, some coffee producers use these wet processing factories to fasten the process. From my understanding, this is only used for low quality coffee. Probably used for the cheap Robusta that will end up in your next instant coffee mix.
The beauty of these coffee factories
I am sure you are not here to read about coffee production, so let’s talk about photography.
What make these factories extremely photogenic are many elements that come together for magic photo opportunities:
- A soft and diffused light coming from transparent ceilings
- Lots of men at work (and who doesn’t like sweaty men in their pictures?)
- lots of steam/smoke photo opportunities
These are quite hectic and busy scenes to photograph and I recommend you check out my latest tutorial about how to photograph busy scenes before heading there!
For me, that was a glorious discovery and we visited a total of 5 of these factories that we encountered on the way. I will make sure to visit them again (if I can find them again!) on my next photo tour in that area.