By Mike Pomranz
Updated October 30, 2014
© Photononstop / Alamy

“Made in China” is not a stamp you see all that often in your local coffee shop. But China is a growing player in the coffee market, and a recent partnership may increase the presence of beans from the world’s most populous country.

Last year, China’s coffee production exceeded a million bags. (A bag is 60 kilograms of coffee.) But to put that in perspective, Guatemala, which is about one-ninetieth the size of China, produced almost 4 million bags last year. Still, a million bags is a huge increase from the measly 104,000 bags China produced back in 1998.

Seeing an opportunity, the Swiss company Volcafe Ltd. has partnered with Simao Arabicasm Coffee Co. to promote beans grown in Yunnan, by far China’s largest coffee region, accounting for 95 percent of production. Though China’s coffee industry is relatively nascent, a representative from Volcafe’s parent company said, “Improving consistency means [Chinese mild arabica] is rapidly growing in acceptance with global roasters.”

The increase in Chinese coffee production comes at the same time as a 12 percent decrease in production of arabica beans worldwide, which could help Chinese coffee gain a foothold. Part of the appeal is that arabica name; but if the Chinese really want to make their coffee trendy, maybe they should start marketing it to independent coffee shops in Portland first.