Thanks to a large export deal, China may become a new influential player in the coffee game. According to Bloomberg, Switzerland-based trading company Volcafe Ltd. has partnered with Simao Arabicasm Coffee Co. to promote arabica beans from Yunnan, China's largest coffee-growing area. Volcafe will "source and process" the beans so that they can be exported to clients around the globe. A spokesperson for Volcafe notes the "Chinese mild arabica is still relatively new to the world coffee scene."
While the Yunnan region produces nearly as much coffee as Costa Rica, the increased output is a recent development. In 1998, all of China produced 104,000 60 kilogram-bags. In 2013, China's production exceeded one million 60-kilogram bags.
Bloomberg notes that arabica is the preferred coffee bean of Starbucks so perhaps they will begin to use the Volcafe beans. This wouldn't be Starbucks' first foray into Chinese-sourced coffee: CNN writes that back in 2010 the chain announced that they had plans "to plant trees and grow coffee" in Yunnan.