French missionaries first planted coffee in China in the late 19th century, but production didn’t take off for nearly 100 years. It was in 1988, as part of a government-led project assisted by the United Nations Development Program and the World Bank, that coffee began to be commercially developed on a large scale.
The crop year 2013/14 saw the production of 114,000 metric tons of coffee – placing the country just above Costa Rica as the 14th-largest producer in the world.
The main growing regions in China are Yunnan, Fujian, and Hainan Island.
Arabica-growing Yunnan, makes up 95% of production and it has an average altitude of 2,000 masl.
Catimor is the varietal of choice for most of the farmers here.
Taste & Quality
Most Chinese produced coffee is still commodity grade but with the help of organizations like CQI, this has slowly begun to change. Best practices at a farm level, and better wet/dry mill processing is enabling better quality coffee.
In the 2015, the Best of Yunnan competition's 25 international judges cupped the region’s best-scoring coffee at 84+.
Due to the immaturity of the Chinese coffee growing infrastructure, it is still relatively difficult to trace coffee beyond a cooperative level.