Yunnan Coffee

Yunnan Coffee mainly introduces the coffee planting history, the distribution area, the famous coffee in Yunnan and travel tips for Yunnan Coffee.

Planting History of Yunnan Coffee

China is known for its tea plantations and tea-drinking ceremonies. But very few are aware that the country has been producing coffee ever since French missionaries brought the first coffee sapling from Vietnam to Yunnan’s Binchuan County in 1902. The large-scale planting of Yunnan coffee was in 1955, with a planting scale of 4,000 hectares. By the end of 1997, the Yunnan Province’s coffee planting area had reached 7,800 hectares. At present, Yunnan Province’s planting area accounts for 70% of the national area, and the output of Yunnan Coffee accounts for 83% of China. Regardless of the planting area and coffee bean production, Yunnan Coffee has established a dominant position in China.

Distribution Area Yunnan Coffee

The western and southern parts of Yunnan Province are located between 15° north latitude and the Tropic of Cancer. Most of the areas are 1000-2000 meters above sea level. The terrain is dominated by mountains and slopes. The unique natural conditions, namely, fertile land, abundant sunshine, abundant rainfall and large temperature difference, form the special taste of Yunnan small-grain coffee taste – thick but not bitter, incense and not strong, slightly fruity. The Yunnan coffee planting area is distributed in Puer, Xishuangbanna, Wenshan, Baoshan and Dehong and other places in the south and southwest of Yunnan.


Known locally as Yunnan Xiaoli Coffee, the main variety of Yunnan coffee is arabica that originated in Baoshan from the 1950. It took its first steps here in the late 1950s and quickly received positive feedback from London. The 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. In December 2010, Baoshan Xiaoli Coffee received A grade certification of national standard authority and was honored as the product reflecting the geography of China.


Well-known for its organic coffee plantations, Dehong is the place where Chinese coffee was born. Covering a huge 2,000 hectares of coffee plantation, it is at an altitude of 1,000 -1600 metres. Due to most coffees organically grown here, it is one of the best quality coffee in the world. 


In 2013, China Fruit Marketing Association (CFMA) officially announced Pu’er as “The Coffee Capital of China”, which marks a new era of Pu’er’s coffee history. With 70 registered businesses, 30,000 households, and around 1 million people in Pu’er’s coffee industry, it is an important coffee producing region in China with the most plantation area, highest production and best quality. 

Tracing Yunnan Coffee Culture

In 1887, when the war between China and France had just ended,  Vietnamese started to settle, and soon some of the oldest coffee shops like Nanmei Coffee Shop and Xin Yue Restaurant (now called Nanlaisheng) were born. 

In Kunming – the capital city of Yunnan, we can see a more modern coffee culture, such as Salvador’s Coffee House settled on Kunming’s main cultural street for nearly a decade; the French Cafe, a French coffee shop on Wenlin Street; Chicago Coffee, a charming cafe and roaster; Coffee Break, a cozy cafe with a new taste of Korean style coffee; Kawana Cafe at Zhengyi Fashion Shopping Mall; and Full Cup Coffee at Wangfujing Shopping Mall. All these bring new coffee concepts to Kunming. Starbucks first appeared in Kunming in 2011, quickly branching out with 5 stores.

Pu’er began to push out its own specialty coffee and the future seems bright for the Yunnan coffee industry. As the number of coffee drinkers in China is on the rise, China is becoming one of the largest coffee consumers, and this rapid growth will encourage a more diverse development of coffee culture and cafes in China.

Famous Coffee in Yunnan

Yunnan, always known for its excellent tea, such as Puer Tea, has now become home to another of the world’s most popular drinks: coffee. In terms of Chinese Coffee, it mainly refers to Yunnan Coffee. The number of coffee drinkers in China is growing rapidly every day, especially among the younger generation. Simao Coffee, also known as Puer Coffee has the unique fragrance, which is favored by many people.

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Rapid Coffee Development in Yunnan

Yunnan plans to be the capital of quality coffee and the centre of the Chinese coffee industry, including coffee producing, manufacturing, and trading. By 2020, Yunnan will have 100,000 hectares of coffee farms. China is the only country with a huge coffee farming area and an enormous market to supply it to. In 1995, Yunnan’s government officially listed coffee as one of 18 bio-engineering projects and in 1998 it laid out  quick coffee industry development scheme. 

Aini, a corporation that has always been promoting Yunnan coffee to the world, set up a joint venture with Starbucks to improve Yunnan coffee quality and developed a complete quality management and control system. With its success, Yunnan coffee began to make a mark on the world stage.

Travel Tips for Yunnan Coffee

Yunnan has long been known for growing high-quality black tea. But in the past few years, traders, roasters, cafe owners and connoisseurs are discovering that Yunnan is also a source of coffee beans noted for their sweet flavor. Growing affluence and a young market attuned to Western trends have created a cafe culture in what was once a predominantly tea-drinking country. The Seattle-based coffee chain Starbucks has over 3,000 outlets across China. Other international and homegrown cafes are following Starbucks, hoping to cash in on the lucrative cafe market.