The Secret Life of Tsou Coffee

On a mountaintop far, far away is a village, and in that village grows coffee on twenty or so hectares of land. This village on Taiwan is home to the Tsou tribespeople. The people have the coffee but not the means of promotion. So naturally, since promotion must meet coffee, a professor and his students enter the scene to forever change the face of the little Tefuye Community village in Alishan, Chiayi County, Taiwan.

Tefuye is a beautiful aboriginal community whose farmers seemingly welcomed 37 students and their professor from National Taiwan Normal University yesterday. The team plans to stay three days, meet with farmers and develop creative marketing strategies for the village’s two coffee brands. They also plan to set up websites for online sales. According to writers Huang Kuo-fang and Kendra Lin, the tribes people have to deal with more than a marketing challenge.

They’re trying to rebuild the area which was hard-hit by a 2009 typhoon. It is this challenge which drew the professor in. He says the community has a branding problem, but good products. “Finding stories to back their products and creating contexts for them would be more effective than simply having sales, because customers for such goods tend to want more than just products,” he reportedly said. This is another example of the complications involved in getting our all important coffee from farm to cup. How many little out-of-the-way villages are, like Tefuye, sitting on fields of coffee that they don’t know what to do with?

As coffee consumption continues to climb, it becomes more and more profitable to reach out to these small farmers and help them sell their beans. This story also demonstrates the vital role that students can play in helping small farmers lacking in tools to deal with the business world. Students have been used in other instances we’ve encountered. The benefits are provided not only to the farmers, but to the students as well.

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