Not just a cup of coffee
Social worker turned barista
Born in a rural Chiang Rai village Maejantai, home to over 30 coffee-growing families, Lee grew up and trained as a social worker. His dream was to help refugees and youth in the city. Later Lee realised his own village needed help and started buying beans from local farmers. ‘Akha’ is the name of the indigenous tribe and ‘Ama’ means ‘mother’ in Akha’s language.
Half of Akha Ama’s staff come from coffee families in the north of Thailand. ‘They are the real change makers, I’m just a catalyst.’ shares Lee, who started Akha Ama in 2010 encouraging villagers to grow coffee. Coffee is one of the main cash crops for many families in the North. Lee sources his coffee beans from Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and the Maehongson provinces. They educate farmers to show that coffee growing is good for other crops too. It improves the quality of soil and other crops.
What to order?
Their Manee Mana, a shot of espresso mixed with fresh orange, is always the best drink to beat the heat. They also serve a variety of teas and fruit juices. Cakes and muffins are made fresh every day.