Coffee was first introduced to Myanmar (formerly Burma) in 1885 by British colonists, when missionaries established some small farms up around the city of Pyin Oo Lwin. Commercial production didn't take off at first, and when the British left the coffee business went into a kind of enforced hibernation. The bulk of the coffee grown here during that time (mostly in Kachin, Mandalay, and Shan State) made its way across borders to China, Laos and Thailand via "unofficial" transactions.
For the next fifty years or so, the coffee trade inched along on a fairly limited scale. Over the last several years, however, several organizations have begun to put more focus on the coffee trade as the Myanmar economy has opened up. Private entities and NGOs have been working with growers to improve agronomy and harvesting practices, and investments in milling and education have brought about the birth of a true specialty coffee business in the country. The climate in Myanmar's highlands – hot days, cool nights – lends itself well to coffee cultivation. Given the relative predictability of very, very dry and hot weather during harvest season, it is particularly well suited to natural processing, though a significant amount of washed coffee is also produced.