Resident Feature: Jason Brown, founder of Sawbwa Coffee
"Don’t brew with boiling water, let it cool for a minute first. If you have a thermometer, you are looking for around 92-96°C. Grind size is crucial, you must get this right for the type of coffee that you are brewing. " - Jason Brown
What is the history behind Sawbwa Coffee?
Sawbwa Coffee was launched in 2018 with the goal to build Myanmar’s first premium specialty focused brand. We sold the first bag of coffee at Sharky’s on Dhamazedi road in September 2018 after 6 months of intensive training and preparation.
What inspired the name Sawbwa Coffee?
All our coffee is sourced from Shan state and of the highest quality. Sawbwa is the Burmese name for the Shan Royal line, which represents the product and roots the brand in its Shan Myanmar origins. In the longer term we want to share the story of Myanmar’s great produce with the rest of the world and Sawbwa is recognizable and readable when written in the Latin alphabet
There are a few other coffee supplier in Myanmar. What do you feel sets you apart from the others?
Quality and brand. We have put a lot of effort into our roasting and production process, which has in turn a huge affect on the final taste of the coffee. We spend time learning about each bean and getting to know it’s characteristics before deciding on our roast profile. Some do better as darker bolder roasts for espresso coffee and others much lighter, fruitier filter coffee’s. We have packaged and market the coffee in a way which we think communicates this and celebrates Myanmar myths that match each coffee’s character. It all adds up to an experience, from learning about different coffee’s, the stories behind the beans and finally the aroma and taste as you open the bag to brew your coffee. Myanmar has such great produce, and many products could be elevated in a similar way.
Finally, we try to get our coffee out fresh to our customers. We batch roast to order, so if you message us on Facebook or order from our website, we’ll make sure that you are getting your coffee at its peak freshness.
Credit and Copyright: Sawbwa Coffee
If you were a customer, what would you order from the menu?
Bant Sawk. It’s really the stand out Myanmar coffee and the coffee that makes me excited about the potential for the future of Myanmar specialty coffee. You will also be supporting an initiative to move farmer crops from poppies to coffee.
Describe your coffee in 3 words.
Aromatic, Fresh, Smooth
Aside from running your business, what are some personal hobbies or local activities that you enjoy at Pun Hlaing?
Playing tennis almost everyday at the moment. Also really appreciating the new menus at both Awei Metta & Oasis, now we have great food options without leaving the estate.
What advice would you give to someone who is dreaming of opening their own coffee business?
Learn about the industry first and figure out the market gap. Myanmar is an origin country for coffee so it’s a great place to start, but competition is increasing almost every day with new entrants into the market. Do you want to roast/ retail/ farm/ process... there are many layers to the coffee business. Perhaps take a look at ready to drink products like cold brew. I would be happy to help anyone who is thinking to get into coffee, feel free to reach out.
Credit and Copyright: Sawbwa Coffee
Lastly, can you share the secrets of brewing the best coffee?
Don’t brew with boiling water, let it cool for a minute first. If you have a thermometer, you are looking for around 92-96°C. Grind size is crucial, you must get this right for the type of coffee that you are brewing. If you have a French press, or filter, choose Sawbwa’s ‘course ground’, or even better choose beans and grind fresh at home (makes a huge difference to how long your coffee will last once the bag is open). Check Google for grind size charts, when I started learning about coffee, I was amazed at how much difference this makes to the flavours that you can achieve in the final cup.