Coffee and China: The Farms, Shops, and Communism – GuadalupeRoastery

It is true that China is the land of tea, but coffee has a sweet spot in China and over the past century it has grown exponentially. Much of it is due to the western influence in China as more Europeans and Americans insist on drinking the coffee while they visit China, creating  a need for the Chinese market to cater to foreigners and locals interested in the foreign drink alike. 

Nonetheless, coffee is not an absolute foreign in China. Coffee was first introduced to China during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), but it did not become popular until much later. In the early 20th century, coffee was introduced to the southwestern province of Yunnan, which has a climate and topography suitable for coffee cultivation. Coffee production in China grew steadily during the 20th century, and in recent years, specialty coffee shops have become increasingly popular in urban areas. Today, China is a major consumer of coffee, with a rapidly growing domestic coffee industry.

Chinese people generally prefer milder and sweeter coffee, often with a lighter roast profile. This is because traditionally, Chinese cuisine tends to be more delicate and subtle in flavor, and darker or more bitter coffee can be overwhelming. In recent years, specialty coffee has become more popular in China, and many Chinese coffee drinkers enjoy single-origin or specialty blends that have distinctive flavor profiles.

One popular coffee beverage in China is the "Nai Cha" or "Yuanyang," which is a mix of coffee and tea with milk and sugar. It's a popular drink in Hong Kong and other parts of southern China. Another popular coffee drink in China is "Baisui Pien," which is coffee with sweetened condensed milk and egg yolk.

Overall, Chinese coffee preferences are diverse, and they are influenced by regional tastes, personal preferences, and cultural traditions.


Communism has had a significant impact on coffee culture in China. In the early years of the People's Republic of China, coffee was considered a bourgeois luxury and was not widely consumed. Instead, the government promoted the consumption of tea as a more traditional and proletarian beverage.

During the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s, coffee was actively discouraged, and coffee shops and imports were banned. However, in the decades since, China has opened up to the global market and has experienced significant economic growth. This has led to a rise in middle-class and upper-class consumers who have developed a taste for coffee.

Today, the Chinese government does not actively discourage coffee consumption, but the country's communist ideology has influenced the way coffee is marketed and consumed. For example, many coffee shops in China are designed to be communal spaces where people can socialize and network, reflecting the communist ideal of collective social activity. While in the West, we have finer and less fine coffee shops, coffee shops throughout China aim to be equalitarian. Additionally, many coffee shops in China are owned by state-owned enterprises or large corporations, which reflects the government's emphasis on centralized control and planning.

Overall, while communism has had a complex relationship with coffee culture in China, the country's growing economy and evolving cultural values have led to a rise in coffee consumption and a growing coffee culture that is increasingly influenced by global trends.

Coffee Farms

There are coffee farms in China, particularly in the southwestern province of Yunnan. Yunnan has a climate and topography that is suitable for growing coffee, and the province accounts for the majority of China's coffee production.

Coffee farming in Yunnan started in the 19th century when French missionaries introduced coffee to the region. Today, Yunnan is home to many coffee farms, and the province's coffee industry has grown rapidly in recent years. In addition to Yunnan, coffee is also grown in some other regions of China, such as Fujian, Hainan, and Taiwan.

Chinese coffee farms primarily grow Arabica coffee, which is known for its delicate and nuanced flavors. Chinese coffee is still a relatively small player in the global coffee market, but the industry is growing, and many coffee producers are focusing on producing high-quality specialty coffee to meet the demands of the domestic and international markets.

Coffee Shops

In general, coffee shops in China tend to be stylish and modern, with comfortable seating, good lighting, and trendy decor. Many coffee shops offer a variety of coffee and tea drinks, as well as baked goods and light meals.

One trend in Chinese coffee shops is the use of technology to enhance the customer experience. Many coffee shops offer mobile ordering and payment options, as well as free Wi-Fi and charging stations for electronic devices. Some coffee shops also have virtual reality or augmented reality experiences to entertain and engage customers.

Another notable trend is the popularity of themed coffee shops in China. These are coffee shops that have a specific theme or concept, such as a bookstore coffee shop, a cat cafe, or a coffee shop with a rustic countryside atmosphere. These themed coffee shops offer unique experiences and attract a loyal following of customers.

Overall, coffee shops in China are a popular destination for young professionals, students, and other coffee enthusiasts. They offer a comfortable and convenient place to socialize, work, or relax, and they are an important part of the growing coffee culture in China.

While there is an existing history of coffee in China, I truly believe that the coffee experience in China is just getting started. The future of coffee in China looks promising, as the coffee market in China has been growing rapidly over the past few years. Although tea has traditionally been the most popular beverage in China, the younger generation is increasingly embracing coffee culture.

There is no question about the fact that the coffee market is growing in China and such growth can be attributed to factors such as rising disposable incomes, changing consumer preferences, and the expansion of coffee shop chains.

Furthermore, international coffee brands have been expanding their presence in China, and domestic coffee brands are also emerging.

However, it's worth noting that China is a large and diverse country with different regions and consumer preferences. While the coffee market is growing overall, there may be variations in demand and adoption rates depending on the region. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the coffee market in China, with some consumers cutting back on non-essential spending. Interestingly, coffee is considered a necessity in most western countries, but in China it is still a bit of a treat or luxury. Perhaps less caffeine dependance? 

Overall, the future of coffee in China looks bright, and it will be interesting to see how the growing market impacts the culture. There is much written about how coffee changed England, France, and South America. Could China be next?

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