Connect with us


With a fascinating past, the future looks great for Phuket’s own coffee brand

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: It has been 56 years since Cheng Long opened his Hock Hoe Lee coffee store in Phuket Town – and according to Ruengrit “Oh” Petchvorakul, husband to Cheng Long’s granddaughter and today co-owner of the Hock Hoe Lee brand, the beginnings weren’t that difficult.

“All you had to do was to sell good coffee. There wasn’t much competition and we quickly established our brand,” he explains.

Mr Ruengrit cites three factors as key to keeping a business up and running for over five decades. First is the quality of the produce, which continues to be a top priority.

“The market changed a lot over the years. Coffee comes in different grades of quality and we observed a big change in people’s tastes. People’s preferences are moving from low quality to high-quality products.

“Customers today look for the best coffee available; they know more about coffee. This is good for us, it allows us to sell high-quality coffee at better prices,” Mr Ruengrit explains.

The second key factor is customer relations.

“The founder of the company took great care of his customers,” says Mr Ruengrit. “We can’t just put coffee or tea on a shelf and wait for customers to buy it. We have to learn what the customers like and teach them about coffee too. We ask the customers what coffee they like. We want them to be our partners, someone who we learn from while they learn from us.”

The third factor is more practical and has a lot to do with the kind of produce Hock Hoe Lee deals in.


Coffee is a fragile commodity, something that cannot be kept in stock forever. As a result, managing the piles of coffee bags is crucial.

Exactly how crucial stock management is was something Mr Ruengrit learned the hard way when he and his wife decided to introduce western-style, fresh-roasted coffee to the company’s lineup.

“It was a disaster. At the very beginning the demand for our western-style fresh coffee was very low and people were complaining that it was too expensive. We actually had a big stock of fresh beans, maybe three tonnes, and it all was wasted, nobody wanted to buy it.”

Mr Ruengrit took care of the quality and wanted to sell it at an appropriate price, but had yet to learn about the importance of customer relations in coffee business.

“We thought we would just put the product on the shelf and it would sell, but it didn’t work like that,” he recalls.

What helped was every successful entrepreneur’s secret weapon: persistence.

“We decided to keep the price and keep going. We knew that we had a great product and we didn’t want to compromise on the quality. Over time, people slowly got to know our coffee and the demand started growing.

“Now we have a strong customer base and we sell around 10 tonnes of our fresh Arabica a year, compared to maybe one or two tonnes a year four years ago,” he said.

It took time and determination to make it happen, but in the end, it paid off.

“We started with just two kinds of fresh-roasted coffee, but with the growing demand we will be introducing a third one soon. I see it as a cycle. We develop a better product, introduce it to customers, they learn to like it and come back for more and for even better quality, and so it continues.”

When Mr Ruengrit revisits the difficult times before his new coffee took off, he recalls one particular, game-changing moment. It was when Voradech Maneesri, the general manager of the foto Hotel in Kata, and Wirachai Pranveerapaiboon, CEO of The Attitude Club, paid a visit to his shop and decided to buy his product.

“They said they will buy my coffee because they want to support me, support local business. I don’t think I had ever heard anybody say that before. It was a great boost of confidence,” Mr Ruengrit notes.

With this experience behind his belt, Mr Ruengrit confidently runs the business, sourcing coffee from a number of locations in Thailand, including Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Ranong, which he then sells at his two shops in Phuket: one in Phuket Town and one in Rawai. And he looks to the future with more confidence, believing that it’s the past that’s Hock Hoe Lee’s greatest strength.

“My mission is not about how much we sell. It may sound strange, but now it’s more about the legacy. I want this place to remain a part of Phuket. It’s more fun than just doing business,” he said.

With his persistence, Hock Hoe Lee is here to stay.

To try Hock Hoe Lee coffee, visit the Hock Hoe Lee Coffee Factory at 28/9 Moo 5, Rawai, Muang, Phuket 83130. To shop for coffee visit the company’s store at 183 Ranong
Rd in Phuket Town. For more information and to buy coffee online, visit

— Maciek Klimowicz


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)2 hours ago

Record high as Chon Buri hits nearly 800 Covid-19 infections

Coronavirus (Covid-19)2 hours ago

Covid outbreak closes Nakhon Si Thammarat rubberwood processing factory

Thailand3 hours ago

Nearly 600 temples now offering free cremation services

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Thailand4 hours ago

Phetchabun chicken processing plant sees over 3,000 infections

Phuket4 hours ago

New Covid-19 infections drop, still worrisome for Phuket Sandbox

Phuket4 hours ago

Phuket “car mob” protest demands the removal of PM, calls for mRNA vaccines

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand5 hours ago

Samut Sakhon Governor Veerasak offers to resign if communication in his province doesn’t improve

Coronavirus (Covid-19)5 hours ago

Sunday Covid Update: 15,335 new cases; provincial totals

Coronavirus (Covid-19)6 hours ago

Covid UPDATE: 15,335 new infections, provincial numbers

Coronavirus Infections6 hours ago

DDC says infections still rising, possibly falling in Bangkok

Coronavirus (Covid-19)7 hours ago

DDC says use the QueQ app to book appointment at sports stadium in Pathum Thani

Business7 hours ago

Inside story behind the Thailand property seachange

Thailand8 hours ago

Domestic flights added to Phuket/Samui, CAAT says be careful

Coronavirus (Covid-19)8 hours ago

4th body found on a Bangkok street

Events10 hours ago

Where have all of Thailand’s boat shows gone?

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism5 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8