Coffee from China is Becoming Interesting
Better farming practices are being employed in some cases, and coffee is being planted at higher elevations than before. The cup is still quite basic in some ways, as the varieties planted, environment and altitudes do not culminate in creating a Central America type flavor profile, or other established origins. But it has a soft coffee quality, balanced, good body, and a modicum of acidity.
Starting 10 years ago, we started receiving some interesting emails about Chinese Yunnan Arabica coffee. I had only cupped various types of commercial grade Yunnan coffees grown under 1000 meters. The emails would read "You can order this coffee in whatever style you want : Central American wet-processed style , Brazilian semi washed or dry-processed style, Sumatran semi wet hull style. It is unique". The fact is, until recently I have not found much of any flavor in these commercial coffees. It is suited toward the mass "industrial coffee market" meaning the R & G (roasted and ground) coffee market and institutional roasting.
I know that every new origin piques the interest, but that doesn't always make it good.
More Recently I received a sample of Yunnan coffee that was markedly better, a real specialty-level coffee. It was from the ManLao River Plantation, that ranges from 3500-4500 feet with the coffee coming from smallholder farms as well as a large estate. The cup was clean, bright and had good sweetness, and was well processed. It was not a fresh new crop sample so it scored 84, but it could be an 85-86 point in the future. Yunnan can produce good coffee, and sometimes it's simply a matter of what you are exposed to that colors those perceptions about specific coffee origins.