China’s Firstfruits – Become a Coffee Pioneer

Coffee was first planted in China in the late nineteenth century by French missionaries.  The tea culture was so pronounced that hardly anybody noticed coffee or even desired to give it a try.  In most places it was replaced by a revenue generating cash crop or left to grow uncultivated in areas people had no desire to farm.  Then, in 1990 Nestle made its entrance in Yunnan province.  This forever changed the coffee growing industry on a national and global scale.  Nestle’s foray into establishing a domestic and exporting market paved the way for Starbucks to arrive on the scene in 1999.

With Nestle leading the instant coffee market and Starbucks leading the specialty coffee market they created a wake that enabled the third wave companies to ride in.  While Nestle and Starbucks are still leading the markets in their specific emphases the vast majority of domestic consumers viewed coffee as something to be experienced not merely consumed.  Only a small percentage of the market consumes coffee on the run…the vast majority drink it for social engagement.  This communal aspect of the culture has left its impact on farming communities as well as urban cafes.  Instead of road-side stands, it is the places that have ample seating and an environment for interaction that are thriving.  Agro-tourism has drawn many to their favorite coffee’s origin where they can enjoy a cup in the very place where it is grown.  Imports were fueling the market in the earlier years; however, in the past decade great strides in growing and processing quality control has led to a dramatic increase in domestic consumption.  This growing national pride has also led to a desire for China to take its place in the world coffee market.   Coffee exports have risen exponentially over the last decade and now is the time to enjoy the firstfruits!

Nearly 98% of China’s coffee exports are coming from Yunnan.  Hainan is a distant second.  Yunnan is growing primarily Arabica as it is a mountainous region with a very conducive environment.  Hainan is a tropical island with lush rainforests and volcanic ash enriched soil – suitable for growing high quality Robusta. Both of these locations are also home to the some of the most ethnically diverse populations in the global community.  It is an incredible land with incredible people…and some incredible coffee.  You will have to wait until 2018 to enjoy some of our Hainan coffee but you can enjoy some Yunnan coffee today!

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