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East German coffee crisis (wikipedia.org)
91 points by smacktoward on Oct 8, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 16 comments

Man, this article implies that Germany, starting in 1970, was largely responsible for Vietnam's coffee production industry, and remains a huge international market for Vietnam's production. But this other article says the French introduced coffee production to Vietnam in 1857, that the industry peaked in the early 20th century, and that production actually crashed in the 1970s due to the Vietnam War--and it doesn't even mention Germany:


Pretty rare to see two linked Wikipedia articles contradict each other that much.

> Pretty rare to see two linked Wikipedia articles contradict each other that much.

It isn't contradictory. The french did colonize vietnam and force cash crops on vietnam ( like all colonial empires did ). But during the indochina war ( 1st and 2nd ), vietnam's coffee industry ( and all non-war related industry ) crashed due to the war itself and sanctions levied by the US/France. Vietnam was pretty much barred from trading with the western world, their primary market.

As the indochina war drew to a close and the coffee industry revived because of friendly soviet-vietnam relations and the opening of markets in soviet dominated europe. It wasn't just coffee, lots of vietnamese immigrated to soviet dominated to work and study as well. At one point, the largest non-white communities in eastern germany, poland, etc were vietnamese.

Not Germany. EAST-Germany. Different country (at the time).

The "East German coffee crisis" article is referenced in the "See also" section, for what it's worth

I guess the East German coffee crisis is fairly obscure and not well known in the world. Maybe East Germany's need to buy coffee for soft currency was one reason why the Vietnamese coffee production was rebuilt after the war. East Germany and socialist Vietnam had a very close relationship after the Vietnam war (for instance there were a lot of young Vietnamese students and industrial trainees in the 70's and 80's in Eastern Germany).

This is fascinating. I didn't know the history. I now live in Saigon. I can vouch for the quality of the coffee beans here. I buy mine from a small farm near Da Lat, who I've personally met, and I drink a cup or two daily. I even spent a decent chunk of money on a proper burr conical grinder and I'm a huge fan of the aero press. =)

I learned recently that acorns were commonly used as a coffee substitute in the former Soviet Union. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffee_substitute

This is why I love HN. This random WikiPedia article is great, and the flow on affects of this one quirk of history are really fascinating.

I remember an article in the WSJ by a Pakistani man ~2006, saying "the entire history of my country is a footnote in the history of US foreign policy", and it always stuck with me how much some events can have wide reaching and odd effects, disproportionately felt by specific groups.

sidenote: in 1785 there was another coffee crisis in the German city of Paderborn. When the prince-bishop restricted consumption to nobles, clergy and officials, people protested successfully with noisy meetings where they drank coffee in public. This tradition should be revived.


https://de.m.wikisource.org/wiki/Der_Kaffee-Lärm_in_Paderbor... (German)

I do like Wikipedia articles that change one's view of how the world works. This is one of those articles, I didn't even know coffee came from Vietnam and that Vietnam were number two in the coffee growing business. Most coffee I see has the 'Nescafe' label on it with no mention of Vietnam. I am now wondering what other commodity items I take for granted with no idea of the origin.

If you haven't tried Vietnamese coffee you're in for a treat! While many people probably consume coffee from Vietnam in the "usual" way, I think if you order a "vietnamese coffee" you'll likely be talking about this:



How were they going out of their way to avoid capitalism in this story?

They bought coffee on the international market but didn't have enough money to buy enough. Raising prices in local supermarkets wouldn't have helped much because internationally their currency was close to worthless.

At that point, "preventing revolt" and "saving face" seem to have been the objectives, with ideological concerns coming in a distant third.

A perfect example of the butterfly effect [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_effect

...No. Not, it's not.

Care to explain why not?

Article describes how some probale unfavourable weather pattern derives in coffee issues in Brazil, then is producing effects ( including political!) in East Germany then in Vietnam. Which said effects might even now influence the present.

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