Coffee production in China began on a small scale in the late 1800’s. It expanded somewhat in the 1960’s, but did not really gain traction until the 1980’s. In the 80’s, the Chinese Government and the United Nations – along with a multi-national coffee roasting company put money into new plantings and processing infrastructure.
Coffee thrives in western Yunnan, along the border with Myanmar, at elevations ranging from 900 to 1600 masl. The vast bulk of the growing areas are around 1100-1200 masl. The main sub-regions for coffee growing are Dehong, Baoshan, Pu’er and Ruili.
The majority of the coffee grown in Yunnan is catimor, though numerous public and private entities are in the early stages of experimenting with new varietals. Processing experiments are also underway. During a 2014 visit, we cupped semi-washed, washed, and wet hulled coffees. The best of the washed coffees had a brisk, rose hips acidity, light body and a clean finish. The wet hulled coffee cupped much like a Sumatra, showing very low acid, heavy body, and hints of cedar and capsicum.