Taiwan's Typhoon-Born Coffee

Taiwan's Typhoon-Born Coffee
Taiwan's Typhoon-Born Coffee

Taiwanese Coffee Chronicles

The 2 Setbacks and 3 Waves of Development of Taiwanese Coffee

Taiwan is an island of typhoons and one of the few coffee origins that have to deal with the typhoon threat every year. Throughout the history of Taiwanese coffee, there have been 3 waves of development and 2 setbacks.

Prologue: Introduction

Near the end of China’s Qing Dynasty, James Tait, a merchant with the British East India Company, came up with the idea of planting coffee in Taiwan.


Tait introduced coffee seedlings and seeds to be planted in Sanxia by Taiwanese farmers.

1st Wave: Japanese Colony

The Japanese colonial government set up three Agricultural Nursery Grounds and promoted local coffee businesses. Taiwan became Japan’s largest coffee farm overseas.(1933, Sumita Coffee Farm (source: Taiwan Cultured Memory Bank))


Japanese colonial government began to take stock of the coffee introduced during the Qing Dynasty and subsequently expropriated Taipei County Tea Testing Center. Unfortunately any surviving specimen was destroyed by typhoons.


Hengchung Tropical Nursery Ground was founded


The colonial government began spreading the cultivation of coffee to Taitung, Hualien, and Kaohsiung


Taiwanese coffee was ranked grade 4 at Kansai Region Coop Exhibition


Shilin Agricultural Testing Branch and Chiayi Agricultural Testing Branch were founded. Coffee spread to Yunlin, Chiayi, and Tainan.

1st Setback:The Pacific War

The Pacific War broke out. Coffee farms were repurposed for the war effort because coffee was not necessary goods.


The Pacific War broke out


The nearly 1000-acre coffee farm lands throughout Taiwan began its yearly decline


Japanese force withdrew from Taiwan, and coffee farms were turned over to Republic of China

2nd Wave:ROC and US aid

The republic government began modernizing coffee mills with US AID. Coffee yield and unit production actually surpassed those during the Japanese colonial period. Yunlin County became the foremost coffee origin in Taiwan(Roaster at Yunlin Economic Farm Coffee Mill (source: Taiwan Cultured Memory Bank. Permission to reproduce given by Yunlin Country Culture and Tourism Office))


Frost decimated coffee production in Brazil. US demanded Asian countries to produce larger quantities of coffee to offset the rising market price.


Sino-American Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction sent specialists to study in America and brought back rust-resistant coffee cultivars.


The biggest coffee mill in Taiwan was set up in Yunlin County. The mill handled everything from post-harvest processing to grinding to canning and packaging.

2nd Setback (1):Globalization Strikes

US aid ended. Central and South American coffee production increased. The government sought to join international trade organization. Costly coffee production became disadvantageous in the context of global market competition.


US aid ended.


Coffee tariff decreased

2nd Setback (2):921 Earthquake and Typhoon Nari

A series of natural disasters at the turn of the millennium destroyed 30 years of coffee development in Taiwan and set up the stage for the industry to reinvent itself.


921 Earthquake


Typhoon Toraji and Typhoon Nari

3rd Wave:A Delicate Future

After weathering the onset of natural disasters, Taiwanese coffee industry turned to the smaller but finer philosophy of specialty coffee. With the appearance of Gukeng Coffee Festival and Coffee Evaluations, Taiwanese coffee once more became the center of international attention.


Guken Coffee Festival at Yunlin


Alishan Coffee named 11st place by SCAA for The Best Coffees of the Year


Tea Research and Extension Station took over national coffee research initiative and started promoting coffee quality through competitions, education, and technology


Agriculture and Food Agency collaborated with ACE to host the 2021 Taiwan Private Collection Auction

International Perspective


About Taipei Intl’ Coffee Fest

About Taipei Intl’ Coffee Fest

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