When we say, we "travel mountain roads, make friends with incredible farmers and bring back unique specialty grade coffee," Yunnan coffee is on our minds!
Why is Yunnan coffee special? While it is incredible single-origin, high altitude, specialty grade, micro-lot coffee, it is truly the people in Yunnan that make this coffee special.
Ethnic minority groups live in the mountainous coffee producing regions and are the main force contributing to both the cultivation and production of coffee.
While Yunnan has been growing coffee for over 100 years, the rise of its journey producing specialty coffee started six years ago.
The Yunnan coffee story originated in the late 19th century after French missionary Alfred Lietard brought plants with him. He originally did this as a desire for a personal cup for himself. He planted the first Arabica beans in the valleys and villages near the city of Binchuan, in Yunnan. While other seeds that he planted never took root, today, generations later, there are more than thirty varietals of coffee that continue to thrive that can be traced back to these early seeds that were planted by Lietard.
We have traveled the winding road to the original farm planted by Alfred Lietard. There are trees still growing that are over 100 years old. We have traveled to other farms in Yunnan and cupped these varietals, and we are thrilled to share with you this very special coffee that we discovered on our expeditions.
Coffees like the White Tiger from our friend Mr. Yi. Our Awake team first met Mr. Yi and his family in 2018 during a venture to visit small coffee farms along the border of Myanmar. We cupped some of his coffee on sight, and immediately began to source his green beans directly from this farm.
With the full body of an Asian coffee like Sumatra, and fruity notes like coffee from Colombia, this Yunnan coffee makes for a great morning cup!
Smallholders are common in Yunnan. Many of them growing on terraced farm plots because of the steep slopes. They supply red cherries to each collector’s washing station, where the coffee is floated, washed and dried. Each level of processing is separated out by quality levels to achieve a high level of consistency in the final export product.