CHINA - YALAN LI
Yalan Li is known as the “Iron Coffee Lady” for her incredible work building a coffee farm and wet & dry mills from scratch.
PROCESSING: Anaerobic Natural
ALTITUDE: 1,100 to 1,300 meters above sea level
PRODUCER: Yalan Li
TASTING NOTES: Blueberries, Dark Chocolate, Star Anise
Yalan and her daughter, Xuelian, focus on adding value to coffee from their farm, YuLan, through specialty cultivation and exacting processing at their mills.
For Yalan Li, coffee is a family business. Yalan, her younger sister and her daughter work together to operate DiFan, the family’s coffee business. Yalan started the business in 1992, when she worked at a local coffee company and learned how to cultivate seedlings. She soon struck out on her own and began a nursery to sell coffee seedlings. With the profits from her success, she began her own coffee farm and then built a wet and dry mill. Today, Yalan is known as the “Iron Coffee Lady” for her courage and perseverance.
It hasn’t all been easy, however. In 1999, severe frost destroyed her first farm. Yalan didn’t give up, though. She moved her family back to their home village and opened another coffee farm there, YuLan farm, which she still operates today. When the market prices recovered from 2005 to 2012, Yalan used the money to build a wet and dry mill. In the face of extremely low prices between 2012 and 2020, Yalan refocused their efforts on producing high-quality coffees to garner higher prices for their lots. In this,
Yalan is aided by her daughter, Xuelian, who graduated from university and has been studying coffee processing. Yalan and Xuelian officially established DiFan in 2019 and Xuelian has managed the company since. Xuelian focuses on adding value to cherry from YuLan farm through DiFan’s wet and dry milling operations.
HARVEST & POST-HARVEST
Cherry is selectively handpicked and ripe, red cherry is processed at YuLan’s wet mill. Cherry is fermented for 15 days and then moved to raised beds to dry.
Cherry is raked frequently to ensure even drying. After 5 days on raised beds, cherry is moved to mechanical dryers and dried slowly until it reaches appropriate humidity levels. Dried cherry is stored at DiFan’s dry mill in Pu’er for approximately 1 month before being hulled and prepared for export.
COFFEE IN CHINA
A French missionary brought coffee to Yunnan province in the late 19th century, marking the crop's introduction to China. However, the modern Chinese coffee cultivation industry began in 1988 when the Chinese government, The World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme jointly initiated a program to introduce coffee growing in the region.
Despite not being well known for coffee production, Yunnan has the ideal conditions for specialty coffee production. In fact, the majority of coffee produced in China is grown in the Yunnan Province in western China.