Local Insider: Where to Go for FANTASTIC Coffee Experiences in Yunnan Province, China

Sunday, October 28, 2018 , 2 Comments

Coffee Experiences in Yunnan Province, China
Of course, when you visit China, especially if it is the Yunnan Province, having your own itinerary for a list of coffee and tea places is a definite must do. Did you know that Yunnan happens to be one of the three regions in China that predominately grows coffee? Yes, so needless to say – it’s one of the birthplaces of awesome local homegrown coffee! As a matter of fact, Yunnan dominates the whole of China when it comes to producing Arabica plants (95%!), and since it’s bordering with neighboring coffee-cultured countries like VietnamLaos, and Myanmar – you are guaranteed to get that Asian diverse coffee flavors. They are even exporting 70% of their coffee products coming from Yunnan Province, and I would not wonder that someday soon, they will be known globally as a coffee heaven, much like in Australia and Italy!

As the story goes, while instant coffee is still one of the largest coffee segments in China, it does not hurt to know that there are actually a lot of coffee choices, from third wave cafes, commercial coffee shops, and even local village coffee picks that are truly special. What’s really cool though is that even Starbucks debuted its FIRST SINGLE-ORIGIN Yunnan Coffee across all Starbucks retail locations in the whole of Mainland China. Superb, yes. This goes to show how much Chinese locals are becoming serious coffee drinkers, and how considerate they are becoming, when it comes to creating new partnerships and fusions of their coffee culture.

Let’s do a bit of quick history lesson over here: since Yunnan has a bit of a high altitude, mild climate, and very fertile soilit is one of the best environments for producing coffee. Although the main coffee plantations within Yunnan are in Pu'erBaoshan, and Dehong, you can find coffee plantations here and there, though smaller in scale.

Best Cafes within Kunming City
Roaming around from one city, several towns and villages to another, I’ve noticed that there are coffee places that are cut above the rest. In the Spring City alone, there are streets full of quaint cafes that are not only picture perfect, but full of quality coffee finds. One particular coffee shop in Kunming that is considered the civilization-level of awesome coffee, good for foreigners, locals, and students alike is Salvador's Coffee House (瓦多 咖啡 ). If you are in Kunming City Center, and you have some idle time to just do some rest and relaxation with a good cup of Joe and an excellent comfy cafe environment, then Salvador’s Coffee House, which opened in 2004, is the best choice.

Another good find in Kunming City is the  Elephant Books, and the Ba Liang Hai cafe, which are very much local-preferred coffee shops, but you can occasionally find a few foreigners too. Aside from the fact that they serve mostly Yunnan coffee beans, there are also some signature drinks that you can choose to try. No need to worry about WIFI or credit card payment problems, because these cafes in Kunming are very much tech savvy and reliable.

Of course, if you are pressed for time, and there are not many coffee shops to choose from, you can never go wrong with a stereotypical Starbucks order; or perhaps, some instant coffee from a nearby convenience store? Yes, why not!

Best Cafes outside Kunming City
You shouldn’t be surprised to know that in places like JianshuiHongheYuanyang, or even Mengzi, you will still be able to find good local coffee shops to either dine in or order a takeaway cup of Joe. Naturally, it requires a bit of luck or a lot of local information, and it’s best to know someone from within that town, village, or county you are visiting. If you don’t know anyone though, need not walk around without any caffeine on your blood – quick solution would be to reach out to Zomya.Co! As I have shared with you a couple of blog posts ago, in case you are interested to sit back and let a Yunnan tour allow you to have that less touristy, tailor-fitted itinerary and adventure, one that you can act and feel like a local, even in the coffee places where you can hang out, then I believe you may want to consider Zomya.coThe team can reveal that hidden local-preferred, off the beaten kind of worth it coffee or tea travel guide that can only be done in Yunnan, whether within Kunming or outside. So yes, let’s brew that in your bucket list?

You can visit newly open cafes that feels as if a coffee shop has been built just for you, or perhaps even try the local version of Gong Cha known as IGONG CHA (possibly, the cousin?). Whether it might be an imitation or an inspiration, I recommend trying it out, because the quality of drinks here at IGONG Cha is really tasty.

One of the best stand out coffee shop moments that I have ever tried in my life would definitely be in a small quaint traditional village in the suburbs of Yunnan province. It is known as the Fireplace Coffee Shop somewhere in Yuanyang, and the experience is heavenly. Literally. Why so?

To give you a picture, during that particular morning we visited this village, the footprints of an endless morning fog started to conceal the cafe’s window view with heavenly white. It’s a surprise. I couldn’t be happier. As we waited for our local – yet western friendly coffee drinks to be prepared, I cannot help but notice the otherworldly overall cafe ambiance of the Fireplace coffee shop. Even if it was in the middle of a remote village, is, well, perfection. With WIFI, yes!

Rustic, traditional, and hipster in the atmosphere, the place has its very own fireplace on its second floor. The coffee beans sold here are locally produced, and the crews are from the Hani ethnic groupHow authentic can this get? Perfect place for long casual coffee conversations about light stuff like travel and China, or perhaps even about deep highlights like science and history. Be it students, lovers, friends, family, brothers, or even as a solo person, you should want to experience this matchless coffee shop experience right in the heart of a local village in YuanyangSo yes to coffee, yes to China too!

ZOMYA.CO: Experiential Adventures in China
Providing one of a kind travel experiences, through the off the beaten path adventures in China’s Yunnan and Eastern Tibet. Building bridges between local people and authentic cultures, like traditional villages, ethnic markets, and local cuisines. Tailor-made itineraries to give you a different perspective on traveling in China.

Bowdy is an amateur adventurer, a coffee sleepyhead, and a start-up rooter, with a penchant for classic-looking photos. At last count, he has visited some 60 countries, and is now living in Singapore. He's always in search of fascinating routines to exploit, within the edges of after-office hours and (un)limited holidays.

For collaboration ideas, email bowdywanders@gmail.com.


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