A city in the Yunnan Province found in the southwest of China, called Pu’er, has prospered into a global golden growing belt for Arabica coffee. It has recently been gaining global acknowledgement and is now broadly known as the “heaven of Arabica”.
Pu’er only began planting coffee on a large scale in 1988, even though the first coffee seed introduced in the city was over a century ago. About 75% of the city is covered with forests and natural resources, and the majority of the city can be found within the world global plantation belt for coffee. As of 2020, the coffee plantation areas in this Chinese capital of coffee made up almost 49% of the national total.
Out of the 51,733 hectares of coffee plantation, more than 20,000 hectares have been certified as 4C compliant coffee, more than 6,666 hectares have C.A.F.E. Practices certification, and more than 1,333 hectares have Rainforest Alliance and UTZ certifications. On top of that, in September 2020, Pu’er coffee was included in the protections list of the China-EU geographical indications agreement.
The city is recently gaining attention and acknowledgement from both local and global coffee industries. Former executive director of Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Ted Lingle stated that coffee from Pu’er is ‘one of the best coffees in the world – strong and fragrant but not bitter, rich in fat and strong in acidity’. (ed. I have tried 2 coffees from Yunnan province and liked spoke highly of them on our podcast. They are still not easy to source however, and one of my favourite roasters stopped selling them).
Pu’er is also recognised as the location for the key national coffee laboratory and Yunnan small-grain coffee seed breeding base, along with numerous other coffee research and educational institutions. The rapid development of the city’s coffee plantation is not only impressive but it might also offer hope amidst the recent events in major coffee-growing regions.