Mention China’s favorite beverage and tea would probably be the first drink that comes to your mind. And you’d be right—with a history of more than 5,000 years, Chinese tea isn’t going anywhere soon.
However, coffee is making waves in China in recent years – not only for its rapid rise of consumption but also for its role in cultivation and production of coffee.
Coffee has a relatively young history in China. French missionaries attempted to introduce it in the late nineteenth century but production never picked up until more than 100 years later.
In 1988. as part of a government-led project assisted by the United Nations Development Program and the World Bank, coffee began to be grown commercially in the province of Yunnan.
Over the next 26 years, coffee production skyrocketed from a negligible amount to 114,000 metric tons in 2014 – placing the country as the 14th-largest producer in the world.
Coffee Production in China
95% of China’s coffee hails from Yunnan, a huge province in south-central China which is almost 1.2 times the size of Malaysia. Fujian and Hainan Island grows mainly Robusta coffee and contributes to the remaining 5%.
The Arabica grown in China is mainly of the Catimor variety. Previous attempts to diversify the population with Bourbon and Typica had not been successful due to the prevalence of coffee leaf rust disease.
The vast majority of coffee produced in China is still of the commercial grade, used in the production of instant coffee.
With the help of organizations like Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) and Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) certified schools throughout the country, producers began to venture into growing of specialty coffee.
Best practices at a farm level, and better processing, is enabling better quality coffee, making China one of the emerging coffee growing region to look out for.