Southeast Asia's Café Culture: Blending Tradition, Innovation, and Technology

· Editorial

A new chapter in global café culture is being written. As we venture into 2024, the Southeast Asian region, rich in history and tradition, is not just following global café trends but actively shaping them. And the heart of this transformation can be vividly experienced at the upcoming THAIFEX - HOREC Asia on 6 – 8 March 2024.

Showcasing Innovation at THAIFEX - HOREC Asia

Set against the backdrop of this dynamic industry, THAIFEX - HOREC Asia is poised to be a pivotal player. Exhibitors like Aroma Group, Gruppo Cimbali, Boncafe, Honey Coffee, and Kerry Ingredients will be showcasing how they're driving innovation in unique ways. The event will be a melting pot of state-of-the-art equipment and product ranges that support local cafes in their quest to lead inventions in the industry.

Boncafe will showcase LAF Classic & LAF Bar. The Latte Art Factory (LAF) Bar stands out with its unique microfoam technology, guaranteeing perfect milk foam for hot or cold drinks, whether you use dairy or plant-based milk. It's like having a master barista's skills right at your fingertips.

See the La Cimbali M40, which offers an energy-saving new thermal system, saves water, time and reduces environmental impact, achieving 94.4% recyclability rate. Gruppo Cimbali will also present the S-Lite, a compact product that doesn’t compromise on quality, guarantees quick performance, ease of use, and easy maintenance.


The Essence of Innovation: Equipment and Flavours

In 2024, there are strong themes of ethical sourcing and sustainability in the Southeast Asian cafe market. In line with this, coffee flavour trends for 2024 are diverse and innovative, reflecting a growing interest in unique and sustainable coffee experiences.

Ethically sourced and organic coffee beans used in Cafes are often accompanied by stories of their origin, connecting their drinkers with the farmers and communities behind the beans. Today, coffee enthusiasts seek out rare and exotic coffee varieties from less-known regions. Such beans typically offer unusual and captivating flavor profiles, providing distinct and memorable tasting experiences. An example is Indonesia’s Kopi Luwak, which has the reputation as being the world's most expensive coffee.

At THAIFEX - HOREC Asia, expect to find more coffees flavored with regional ingredients like local spices or fruits, as consumers support local businesses to savour a taste of their own region. At the show, visitors and buyers will be able to source equipment and products that enable experimentation and invention of coffee drink flavours.

For example, fermentation and aging techniques that are traditionally associated with wines and spirits, are gaining popularity. Barrel-aged coffees, where beans are aged in barrels used for whiskey, rum, or wine, could gain traction, as they infuse complex flavors into the coffee.

Inspired by culinary and cocktail trends, new flavors are emerging like bourbon-infused caramel, spicy cinnamon, or floral hints like lavender and rose. Exhibitors like Honey Coffee help support this trend. Honey Coffee are not only renowned for their extracts of coffee, but also of black tea, green tea, citrus fruits, herbs, spices, flowers, and other ingredients.

Exhibitors like Aroma Group from Thailand, who not only sell machinery and speciality filter equipment, will showcase unique flavoured coffee and tea blends, along with syrups and juices to enhance drinks cafes sell.


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Plant-based, Sustainability, and Wellness

The THAIFEX - HOREC Asia exhibition also embraces key market trends including plant-based menus, sustainability, and wellness.

Milk alternatives from manufacturers like Boncafe and functional ingredients in Ready-to-Drink (RTD) products from Kerry Ingredients reflect this trend.

The focus on eco-friendly packaging is also evident, with exhibitors ike Alterpacks providing sustainable solutions made from food waste. Packaging is increasingly important as consumers gravitating towards brands that use eco-friendly packaging and clearly label their sustainability practices.

Alterpacks offers sustainable packaging solutions made from food waste, which supports the cafe not only with sustainable packaging, but turns their waste into useable packaging. They use manufacturing processes to turn certified compostable material from food loss to upcycle spent grains such as malt and barley, which would otherwise go to landfills, into 100% organic food containers.


A Haven for Coffee Bean Buyers

THAIFEX - HOREC Asia is supported by the ASEAN Coffee Association and will feature the ASEAN Barista Team Challenge. The ASEAN region has significant influence as Asian coffee producers, especially from Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, and Laos grow in prominence.

Vietnam, as the world's second-largest producer of coffee, is known for its Robusta coffee. Vietnam is not just a major producer but also a trendsetter in coffee culture with single source blends, and creative coffee concoctions that cater to local tastes.

Indonesia's coffee culture, renowned for its unique "Kopi Luwak," has faced challenges with reduced exports due to adverse weather conditions. Despite this, the country remains a significant player in the coffee export market.

Yet the coffee scene in the Philippines is buzzing as the country is set to make US$2.3 billion from trading coffee, according to Statista. Filipinos are embracing their own beans, as Euromonitor reports that they are falling head over heels for local specialty coffee.

Laos is also emerging as a key coffee producer, focusing on higher-value Arabica coffee. Its exports to countries like Thailand, Japan, Spain, and the United States, among others, are increasing, as seen in the significant rise in coffee bean exports worth nearly $40 million in just six months of 2022, up from $20 million from the same period the last year

In contrast, Cambodia's presence in the global coffee market is relatively small, with exports totaling $60.4k in 2021, positioning it as the 137th largest exporter of coffee in the world. Yet its exports to countries like Russia, South Korea, and France indicate a growing interest in Cambodian coffee.

Overall, the global influence of Southeast Asian coffee growers is marked by significant contributions from countries like Vietnam and Indonesia, with Laos also emerging as a key player. However, regions like Cambodia are still developing their presence in the global coffee export market.


Explore the World of Coffee (literally) at THAIFEX - HOREC Asia

The Southeast Asian coffee revolution, showcased at THAIFEX - HOREC Asia in Bangkok, is influencing global café trends through a unique blend of tradition, innovation, and technology. This event, central to the IndoChina coffee region, and with ready access to the Philippines, is a convergence point for hotels, cafes and restaurants, and catering services. It will feature over 300 brands exhibiting the latest in equipment, technology, and services. THAIFEX - HOREC Asia expects to attract 20,000 trade visitors, including 500 key buyers, fostering industry passion and new connections.

Highlights include the ASEAN Barista Team Challenge, emphasizing excellence, and the THAIFEX - HOREC Academy, offering deep insights into hospitality from leading experts. For more information and to discover the future of hospitality, visit



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  • Statista Market Forecast reports that in Southeast Asia, the coffee market is expected to grow annually by 7.83% from 2023 to 2028, with revenue amounting to US$8.2bn in 2023 while the tea market is expected to grow annually by 4.73% from 2023 to 2028, with revenue amounting to US$6.6bn in 2023. Learn more about this sector and its trends in this specially prepared Cafe Industry Fact Sheet
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