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Emerging Player: The Future of Taiwan’s Specialty Coffee Industry

Taiwanese Coffee Production and Culture

Indigenous to Ethiopia, coffee became a sensation worldwide after its propagation in Europe. Taiwan, too, has a rich history of coffee production that kickstarted during the Japanese occupation in the early 1900s.

Ever since, it has been a luxury crop that only recently gained international recognition for its specialty coffee and unique origins.

History

During the Japanese occupation, Taiwan was one of the main coffee producers in the world, alongside Indonesia and Vietnam. The Japanese set up experimental farms in Yunlin, Tainan, and other mountainous areas, where coffee was grown under ideal conditions.

It was largely abandoned after World War II and picked up again in the 1980s.

Growing Regions

Taiwan primarily grows Arabica varieties that originated from Central and South America but flourished in Taiwan’s high-altitude, rainforest-like conditions. The most famous coffee-growing regions include Alishan, Pingtung, Tainan, and Yunlin, where the ideal elevation, temperature, and rainfall create a suitable habitat for coffee plants to thrive.

Varietals

Taiwan produces a diverse range of Arabica varieties, namely Bourbon, Catimor, Catuai, Caturra, Typica, Geisha, and many more. Geisha, in particular, is a prized variety originated from Gesha, Ethiopia, that Taiwan successfully grew in the Alishan region.

Coffee Processing

Taiwanese coffee producers usually process their coffee using three methods–wash processed, naturally processed, and honey processed. Wash processed coffee meticulously cleans, washes, and dries the coffee beans with minimal contact with fruit, creating a clean, bright, and balanced flavor profile.

The natural process utilizes the sun to dry the cherries with the beans inside, giving the coffee a sweeter, fruitier taste. The honey process is when the producer removes the skin from the coffee beans before drying, allowing more of the fruit’s sugars to infuse into the bean, resulting in a honey-like sweetness.

Coffee Culture

Taiwan is not a significant coffee exporter due to domestic consumption, which is prevalent. However, consumers’ thirst for quality coffee has recently grown, leading to a direct farmer-consumer relationship through cafes, online stores, and coffee events.

Review of the Best Taiwanese Coffees

Formosa Coffee

Formosa Coffee is a New York-based roaster popular for sourcing exclusive coffee beans worldwide while showcasing the distinct characteristics of single-origin goods. Their naturally processed beans from Taiwan have a smooth, sweet flavor often attributed to the natural fermentation process.

Dou Coffee

Dou Coffee, grown in Nantou Guoxing, is a high-quality bean that undergoes a honey process for added complexity. Its pronounced chamomile, pineapple, and honey notes blend with a winey taste that lingers long after the initial sip.

Although

Dou Coffee is expensive, won’t disappoint those who indulge in its rich, full-bodied flavor.

Republica Coffee Roasters

Republica Coffee Roasters sources their unroasted beans straight from Alishan and offers them for home roasting. Their nutty, low-acidic coffee has a floral aroma with hints of berries and a sweet, calming finish.

Final Thoughts

Taiwan’s coffee production history and culture are as rich in flavor and complexity as the coffee itself. The coffee community worldwide has been discovering Taiwan’s gems, and it is a trend that shows no sign of fading over the foreseeable future.

Whether you are a coffee enthusiast, roaster, or farmer, the Taiwanese coffee industry has something to pique your interest and satisfy your cravings.

Future of Taiwanese Coffee Industry

Taiwan’s coffee industry has come a long way since its inception during the Japanese occupation. Today, Taiwan is an emerging player in the global coffee industry, offering unique flavor profiles and innovative approaches to coffee production and processing.

Moving forward, Taiwan’s coffee industry shows potential for growth, global recognition, and sustainability efforts.

Potential for Growth

Taiwan’s coffee growers are continuously experimenting with new varieties of coffee beans to produce unique flavor profiles that can compete globally. Producers are utilizing innovative cultivation techniques to craft specialty coffee on a large scale.

One such experiment is a new hybrid called “Rumangdi”, with beans that can withstand the high humidity and copious rainfall of Taiwan’s mountainous regions. Additionally, the planting of coffee trees in Taiwan has been an ongoing process, with an average annual increase of 2-3% for the past few years.

Innovative approaches have also been taken to address the coffee industry’s limited land resources. Small businesses and co-ops have banded together to create shared coffee farms that promote efficiency and lower costs.

The use of greenhouses and elevated growing beds has provided ample opportunities for coffee growers, increasing production while maximizing land usage.

Global Recognition

Taiwan’s specialty coffee has been gaining recognition in the global arena, with international coffee championships and prestigious awards going to Taiwanese coffee roasters and baristas. Taiwan has been hosting the World Latte Art Championship, World Coffee Good Spirits Championship, and World Coffee Roasting Championship, among others.

Taiwanese baristas have been able to showcase their unique skills and creative flair, improving their skills, and gaining recognition globally. Additionally, Taiwan is a member of the Specialty Coffee Association and the Taiwan Coffee Association, which brings together the coffee industry’s best to enhance coffee quality and increase global recognition of Taiwan’s unique coffee market.

Sustainability Efforts

Taiwan’s government has acknowledged the importance of sustainability, investing in programs aimed at preserving the natural environment, improving crop quality, and soil erosion prevention. The government has also taken steps toward improving the environmental impact of coffee production by promoting the use of organic fertilizers, and the incorporation of trees and other plants into the coffee forests to aid in soil water retention.

Furthermore, Taiwan’s coffee industry is taking an active role in ensuring sustainability by actively seeking environmentally friendly ways of conducting business. These efforts are geared towards promoting transparency and social responsibility along the supply chain, which ensures all stakeholders benefit in the long run.

Final Thoughts

Taiwan’s coffee industry has grown in leaps and bounds, offering unique flavors and innovative approaches to coffee production, processing, and presentation. The future of Taiwan’s coffee industry looks bright, with potential for continued growth, global recognition, and the implementation of sustainable farming practices.

The world is watching as Taiwan emerges as a major player in the specialty coffee industry. Taiwan’s coffee industry is emerging as a competitive player in the global specialty coffee market.

With ideal growing conditions and innovative approaches, Taiwan’s coffee producers are experimenting with new hybrid varieties, using greenhouses and elevated growing beds, and creating shared coffee farms to maximize land usage. The industry is gaining global recognition, hosting world championships and receiving prestigious awards, and investing in sustainability efforts through government programs and eco-friendly business practices.

As Taiwan continues to produce unique and refined coffee, it is poised to leave a long-lasting impression on the specialty coffee industry and the global market.

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