The history of the brand begins in 1897 when Faraut’s family, Pierre’s great grandparents, decided to move to Vietnam as horse, cow and sheep breeders. They settled down near Da Lat at the heart of the Lam Dong Central Highlands region, which was then part of the French colony of Cochinchina. They were among the first explorers with bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin - protégé of the renowned French chemist Louis Pasteur - who founded the hill-town of Da Lat.
Lucien Faraut, his great grandfather, worked closely with Dr. Yersin to fight against severe epizootic epidemics as he focused on animal infectious diseases, and more actively on rinderpest, another kind of plague. At the same time, Dr Yersin planted the quinine tree, a medicine to prevent malaria and encouraged the introduction of the rubber tree in the country. Besides he tried other crops such as cocoa, coffee, cassava, oil palm, coconut and several tropical species with therapeutic virtues.
This is how Pierre ’s great grandparents introduced coffee in Vietnam. From the French Reunion Island, Yersin imported the famous Bourbon Pointu coffee trees that Lucien transplanted by convincing the native people of Da Lat and Da Sar to plant around the villages as they surmised that the area would be perfect for growing coffee. The central highlands area is a region renowned for yielding some of the best quality coffee in the world.
Later, Pierre’s grandfather, also named Lucien, decided to develop his parents' breeding activity after working a few years in the highlands for the Water and Forestry Office. In 1928, he married Tecla Ogerri. They have 9 children including Pierre's mother, Tecla Faraut. She meets Pierre's father, Claude Morère in Ivory Coast, at a wedding of mutual rubber tree planters. Year after year, their vast coffee plantation prospered, the manure of the animals helping the trees to grow.
In 1930, there were 152 European coffee plantations in Tonkin and 38 in Northern Annam. During the period 1930-1940, this number increased again: after having cultivated almost exclusively Arabica, the colony began to cultivate new coffee trees such as Excelsa in Tonkin and Robusta in Annam.
The August Revolution in 1945 put an end to the French colonial time in Indochina and Vietnam became independent. France did not want to lose its colony and came back until the decisive battle of Điện Biên Phủ, where the much better-equipped French army lost to young Việt Minh troops in 1954.
During all those decades, coffee is not yet a widespread consumer beverage throughout the world. The annual Vietnamese production is around 1,500-2,000 tons, but barely 1,000 tons exported. Pierre’s family production remains a complementary activity to livestock farming. Coffee is picked, processed and roasted at the property, then sold in bags and delivered by truck to the French army in place, and to Chinese merchants in Cholon.
The Vietnam War brings an end to his family journey in Vietnam and a brutal disruption in Vietnamese coffee production. In 1976 they have to move out of Vietnam back to France.
Between 1975-1985, the industry, like most agriculture, is collectivized, limiting private enterprise and resulting in low production. Coffee is mainly concentrated on state farms, facilitating the sedentarization of local minorities. In 1990, Vietnam makes a return to the world market.
In 1999, Pierre decided to return to Vietnam to visit the birthplace of his mother as a tourist. In Da Sar, Lam Dong province, he finds Bao, his father's Vietnamese driver and guides in the 1950s who takes him on the traces of his family's past. Stories about his parents and the poetic land of beautiful flowers and lenient local people in the Central Highlands intrigued Pierre. This experience caused a shock for Pierre, struggling between his own family history and modern Vietnam. He has the keys but not the complete understanding. He has a strong desire to find his roots and settle down in the footsteps of his ancestors.
It is only in 2006, during another trip to Vietnam with the Paris Chamber of Commerce as a real estate agent, that Pierre decides to fully settle in Vietnam with his family. He starts working on a feasibility study of the Bidoup-Núi Bà National Park. In nearby Đạ Sar Village, Morère accidentally met his grandfather’s former workers from the coffee plantation, who were very surprised on seeing him and welcomed him as if he was their relative. Pierre discovers a village full of nostalgia and memories of his family. Walls of the villagers' houses still hang pictures of his ancestors.
As they accompanied Pierre to cross over many forests and high hills in search of the precious Bourbon coffee trees that had been abandoned for over half a century, the intercultural breeding ground reinforced Pierre in his decision. Gradually accepted by the local population and administration, he moves to the village of Da Sar where he will set up his first beehives in the coffee fields, the ideal opportunity for Pierre to discover the coffee of his ancestors. That’s how in 2010 Pierre decides to reestablish the family brand “Morère 1897”.
Thanks to his family’s past reputation in the region, he was granted permission to purchase a two-hectare land near Đạ Sar Village - home to the M’Nông Chil ethnic group - by the local authorities, an unusual right for a foreigner in Vietnam. With the same pioneer spirit, he plants Arabica coffee trees and manages to locate the famous Bourbon coffee trees left by his grandparents after the Vietnam war.
“Bourbon coffee trees grow very well in the natural conditions at an altitude of 1,500m in the highlands. The higher they are planted, together with suitable soil and sustainable agricultural approaches, the better their taste gets,” Pierre Morère says.
The paradox of the coffee business is that most of the businessmen in this industry do not study coffee before they step in. Pierre was one of them. He didn’t know anything about coffee before I discovered the Bourbon coffee in Vietnam. But the ethnic people have taught him how to recognize the Bourbon coffee, how to grow it, how to take care of and harvest it properly. They also taught him everything about the soul of the forest where the coffee is planted as well as how to start a new life here.
The first coffee trees started to bear fruits after only three years, though in other countries it usually takes four years. This was largely due to the favorable conditions and the climate of the region. Only ripe red berries are harvested and are processed totally by hand with the assistance of the M’Nông Chil ethnic people.
Each part of the process is done with great care and responsibility. It took several years to successfully process the coffee beans. Today, Pierre produces a very high quality, small-batch Mountain Arabica, and a Bourbon Pointu coffee for the great pleasure of connoisseurs all over the world. Bourbon Pointu is widely considered as one of the finest selective coffees.