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Yunnan Coffee, In China's Tea-Growing Heartland

Yunnan region, always known for its excellent tea, has now become home to another of the world's most popular drinks: coffee. Yunnan produces more than 95% of China's coffee, about 70% of which is for export and, when we speak of Chinese coffee, we mainly mean Yunnan coffee. The number of coffee drinkers in China is growing rapidly every day, especially amongst the younger generation, thus developing a growing popularity for coffee culture. Yunnan is the symbol of the development of Chinese coffee and the position of Chinese coffee internationally.

The History of Yunnan Coffee

It is said that coffee plants were first introduced in Yunnan province in 1892 by a French missionary who brought seeds into the mountain valleys of Yunnan, more precisely to the village of Zhuku, Binchuan county, prefecture of Dali. The high altitude, mild climate and fertile soil offer an ideal environment for cultivating these challenging crops. Today there are different varieties that can be traced back to these first plants.

China coffee’s commercial success in China began exactly 30 years ago and owes much to a familiar name: Nestlé. In 1988, the Chinese government asked the Swiss-headquartered multinational — the world’s largest food and beverage company — to help poverty alleviation efforts by cultivating coffee in far-flung rural areas, partnering with the United Nations Development Program and the World Bank. By 1994, the first commercial plots took off and Nestlé has worked closely with farmers since that time, distributing generic material, offering practical advice and instilling codes of social, economic and environmental responsibility.

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The origins of Yunnan Coffee

Nowadays, the main coffee-growing areas within this region are Pu'er, Baoshan and Dehong. Pu'er 普洱: If you are a tea lover, you will certainly have heard this name at least once, as this tea takes its name from the homonym city. However, in recent years Pu'er is not only the capital of Yunnan tea, but also of Yunnan coffee. Most of the crops are in this area and produce the best quality of coffee beans in all of Yunnan. This place confirms itself to be also an important distribution center. Baoshan 保山: The main variety of Yunnan coffee is arabica, known locally as Yunnan Xiaoli Coffee, originated in Baoshan from the 1950. These special coffee beans are smaller than others of the same species elsewhere in the world and their flavor is smooth and a little bit sweet, with a medium level of bitterness. Dehong prefecture 德宏: This area is well-known for its organic coffee plantations.

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