Ample rains come from western and eastern river valleys, moist and warm air moves up from the lower elevations of the Bay of Bengal and Beibu Gulf, and the mountains to north protect the fragile coffee plants from temperatures that are too cold.
Also see: The Top Ten Coffees in the World
The History of Yunnan Coffee
The first coffee plant s cultivated in Yunnan province came from seeds brought by a French missionary in 1892 and grown near the city of Binchuan in the mountain valleys of Yunnan. Today more than thirty varietals that continue to thrive can be traced back to these early plants.
During the 1950s Yunnan was growing about 4,000 hectares of coffee but this decreased to around 270 hectares in the 1970s. Acreage returned to 1950s levels by 1988 due to a partnership with the Nestle Company, UNDP and the Yunnan Provincial Government. In 1997 about 7,800 acres of coffee were being cultivated in Yunnan.
Resources have also been devoted to ensuring that the coffee plant varietals and cultivation maintains a high standard and also to ensure that the coffee farmers are able to bring their products to an international market.
Yunnan Coffee – Starbucks Partners With Chinese Government
In November of 2010 Starbucks and the Chinese Government announced a partnership investing in the Yunnan coffee industry totaling about US$450 million with the goals of expanding specialty coffee acreage and increasing the total volume of the output. Starbucks also said it would be opening a Farmer Support Center.
Starbucks signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the People’s Government of Pu’er City in Yunnan Province and the Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Science.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz attended the agreement signing ceremony with the two China government organizations and the collaboration seeks to assist local coffee farmers in developing high quality coffee with a focus on environmental stewardship, ethical sourcing and community involvement.
Yunnan Coffee Improvement Efforts Include Coffee Farmer Support Center and Base Farm
Starbucks will also operate a base farm and will supply agronomists and coffee quality experts to work directly with Yunnan coffee farmers to improve coffee quality and overall yield.
Coffees of Yunnan – Coffee Production Expansion Plans in Yunnan
The goal of the provincial government of Yunnan is to increase the volume of green coffee beans (unroasted coffee beans) from less than 50,000 tons to 200,000 tons by 2020, while increasing total acreage planted in coffee to more than 100,000 hectares.
Efforts are being made to improve soil quality to create more coffee plantations, improved coffee farmer training and research centers. Promising coffee enterprises will also be given subsidies. Currently more than 95% of China’s coffee comes from Yunnan.
Starbucks purchases of Yunnan coffee have been increasing rapidly, and in early 2009 Starbucks introduced its South of the Clouds Blend – a high quality Arabica coffee bean blend – in collaboration with Yunnan province.
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