The Grinding Reality of Yunnan’s Coffee Boom
Editor’s note: When you think of the world’s biggest coffee-growing regions, southwest China’s Yunnan province might not immediately spring to mind. But as consumers in Shanghai and other well-to-do Chinese cities enjoy ever more lattes, instant coffees, and other brews, it is their compatriots on the other end of the country who are growing, washing, and drying the beans needed to make China’s coffee boom possible.
There’s a problem, however. Prices for the most basic type of coffee have dropped so steeply in recent years that many Yunnan farmers have found it isn’t worth the effort. Since peaking in 2014, the total area of farmland devoted to coffee cultivation in the province has shrunk considerably.
Forced to find a way to make a profit, some farmers in the province have instead turned to growing beans for specialty coffees, which have more flavor — and higher prices. They have done so with remarkable success. The next time you put down the equivalent of 40 yuan ($6) in a local coffee shop, the beans might just be Yunnanese.
Editors: Zhou Yuyang and Kevin Schoenmakers.
(Header image: Courtesy of DxChannel)