Coffee beans give the village a taste of the good life

A coffee farmer in Pu’er, Yunnan province, November 16, 2022. JIANG WENYAO/XINHUA

While Huang Xiuwu grinds coffee beans in his live-streaming studio and demonstrates the art of pour-over coffee, thousands of enthusiasts watch online and place orders.

Returning to his hometown of Changxing Village, Qiongzhong Li and Miao Autonomous County, Hainan Province, in 2008, Huang later co-founded the Feipushan Coffee Company.

“By selling home-grown coffee beans and products, our company can now boast an annual turnover of about 1 million yuan ($140,774),” he says.

Huang’s success is not due to luck, but is the result of his unwavering dedication to reviving a once-disappearing tradition.

Hainan, the birthplace of many overseas Chinese, has a rich history of coffee culture and consumption. The habit was introduced to Hainan by overseas Chinese several decades ago, and residents of Changxing village were growing coffee as early as the 1960s, thanks to their region’s geographical advantages.

At a latitude of 18 degrees north and an altitude of 200 meters, the village has an ideal environment for growing coffee. A significant difference between day and night temperatures, optimal humidity, sunlight, precipitation, fertile soil and natural spring water all contribute to the quality of the beans produced.

However, when Huang first returned, he found that coffee was in decline due to the meager profits generated from selling the beans alone – nothing more than raw materials for the coffee industry.

“After returning home, I learned to grow coffee and planted 50 mu (about 3.33 hectares) of coffee plants, and the income was good,” Huang says. “Little by little, this encouraged other residents to join me.”

In 2013, he took the initiative to create a coffee cooperative. Working with village authorities, he distributed free coffee plants and provided practical instructions, encouraging more people to grow the beans.

The increased level of production and profits sparked renewed local enthusiasm for coffee cultivation. “In 2008, about 200 mu of coffee was grown in our village, and now this area has expanded to about 1,500 mu,” says Huang.

After establishing the cooperative, he realized that selling coffee products would be more profitable than simply selling coffee cherries, the fruit from which the beans are harvested.

“Coffee cherries only cost 10 yuan per kilo, but the same weight of processed coffee beans can sell for 180 yuan,” he says.

Huang brought processing equipment to the village and worked with locals to establish his coffee business.

The processing plant creates jobs and the brand has increased the added value of local coffee products, bringing greater economic benefit to the village. It sources most of its coffee cherries locally, ensuring stable local income, and also produces flavored coffee beans and products, available not only in Hainan, but also in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai, further generating more profits.

In recent years, Hainan has implemented an action plan to develop a comprehensive and high-efficiency tropical agricultural industrial chain, highlighting coffee as a key sector to promote its cultivation, processing and trade.

Huang is currently participating in live short video trainings offered by the local government and hopes to attract more consumers by expanding her brand’s online market.

“I spend about two or three hours almost every afternoon broadcasting live on the Internet, sharing brewing techniques and talking about our coffee beans,” he says. “We now have about 4,000 subscribers, and monthly online sales can reach about 12,000 yuan.”

Huang intends to continue growing coffee production locally and is expanding his live streaming to generate more sales and integrate the local coffee industry with tourism.

“I hope to build a coffee-themed guesthouse so visitors can experience the joys of growing, picking and brewing coffee. My goal is to help popularize Hainan’s coffee culture and increase the income of local residents,” he said.


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