Coffee has been grown in Yunnan for over a century. The province is historically famous for tea growing, but, over the past three decades, many of the region’s fertile hillsides have been replanted with coffee.
The climate, terroir and geography of Yunnan have long made it an agricultural hub for a wide variety of crops. It is unsurprising, then, that some of the first coffee planted in the country was in the heart of Yunnan in the late 19th century. Missionaries brought coffee plants to rural communities across the province’s green hills. By the 1950s, approximately 4,000 hectares of land in Yunnan were planted with coffee.
Modern production began in the 1990s, when big-name coffee companies began investing in coffee production in Yunnan. Today, coffee is cultivated across some 120,000 hectares, and production is growing rapidly.
Although not well known for coffee production, Yunnan has ideal conditions for the production of specialty coffees. More and more coffee projects are being developed as the demand for Yunnan coffee increases. With some investment in training and infrastructure, a lot of hard work and a solid quality control system, we know that Yunnan coffee producers can shine.
The conditions that make Pu'erh so excellent for tea production-high altitudes, moderate temperatures, good rainfall-also make it a good place to grow coffee. In addition, the tea and coffee harvest cycles complement each other, and adding coffee to their fields can help farmers generate additional income for themselves and their families.
Pu’erh is also increasingly become a tourist destination for both Chinese and international tourists. Many people come to see the beautiful vistas and also to purchase the tea that Pu’erh is so well known for.
Today, around 90% of all coffee production from China is Fully washed and sold in parchment to dry mills. Then, the parchment is milled, traded and shipped within 6 months.
Coffee cultivation is centered on 9 cities: Pu’er, Baoshan, Dehong, Lincang, Wenshan and Xishuangbanna. Between them, they produce 95% of the coffee grown in Yunnan.
Over 90% of coffee in Yunnan in Fully washed. The remainder is processed using the Natural method and a small percentage using the Honey/Semi washed method. Natural processing is usually used for the first coffee harvested, and the majority of Grade 1 coffees are Fully washed.
Most producers have their own wet processing facilities; if they do not, they will often sell cherry to middlemen, who can then sell on to wet mills or add value by processing it themselves.