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Thailand adds quality coffee to its export menu

Specialty brews include one made from beans found in elephant feces

Efforts to elevate the quality of Thai coffee have helped create a flourishing cafe culture in the northern city of Chiang Mai and improve the livelihoods of local farmers, many of whom belong to ethnic minority groups. (Nikkei montage/Source photos by Getty Images, Denis Gray)

CHIANG MAI, Thailand -- The buzz of espresso machines, a wake-up aroma of fresh brews, bustling baristas at roadside stalls and cafes that would make London or Rome proud: Welcome to Chiang Mai, where this is a typical morning scene in Thailand's capital of coffee.

Chiang Mai and coffee make an ideal marriage. The northern Thai city is girt by mountains ideally suited for growing the crop and peopled largely by ethnic minority highlanders who have eagerly embraced its cultivation to lift themselves out of poverty. It has also become a base for young entrepreneurs working to overcome challenges ranging from improving quality and boosting exports to countering the effects of climate change.

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