Yunnan Coffee

The number of coffee drinkers in China is on the rise. Today, coffee has firmly integrated itself into the daily lives of the younger generation across China. Yunnan region, always known for its excellent tea, has now become home to another of the world’s most popular drinks: coffee. About 80% of China’s coffee are produced in Yunnan and Chinese coffee usually means Yunnan coffee. Yunnan is the symbol of Chinese coffee development and the position of Chinese coffee in the world.

The Romantic Origin of Yunnan Coffee

The aroma of Yunnan coffee has been known for hundreds of years, and it is said that coffee trees were introduced into Yunnan province in 1892 by a French priest who brought seeds to what is now Zhu Ku La village, Binchuan District, Dali City, Yunnan. This small seed rooted deep into the Chinese culture, and this century old coffee tree still stands tucked away in the mysterious and peaceful village.

Long History Created By Nature

There are a variety of coffees grown in Yunnan, such as Arabica Catimor, Typica, and Bourbon. Due to the unique highland geography and great temperature differences between the day and night, the original character of Yunnan coffee is fruity fragrance, rich but not bitter, and aromatic but not overwhelming. 

About 98% of China’s coffee farms is located in Yunnan. Although Yunnan coffee is not widely recognized through out the world, about 70% of which is for export to countries such as Korea, Japan, Vietnam, USA, Hong Kong, Taiwan and several countries in Europe. With the geographical advantage and the increasing quality, it is slowly putting itself on the world map as the representative of Chinese coffee. Yunnan is the biggest province of coffee growing, producing, and exporting in China.

Main Coffee-growing Areas in 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.

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.