Coffee Trading in China

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In a nation of avid tea drinkers, coffee continues to gain ground.

By Nathan Barlow

Oct. 18 – Coffee first made its initial appearance in China when a French missionary in the 1890s planted beans throughout Yunnan Province. Over the next hundred years, coffee would go largely unnoticed but, as is the case with many things in China, the market has changed quite a bit over the last 20 years.

This is part two of a three-part series detailing various facets of China’s coffee industry, and this article focuses on trading coffee in China. Part one, introducing the China’s coffee industry, can be found here, while part three, detailing domestic production, can be found here.

With regards to coffee trading in China, there are essentially two key methods for importing coffee into the country:

  • Using a broker; or
  • Through direct trade.

Importing from a broker is often easier and minimizes the complex import challenges associated with bringing beans into China from numerous countries with varying regulations. Using a broker is specifically advantageous for small-scale coffee roasters or cafés that require a wide range of beans sourced from different countries in relatively small quantities. However, direct trading is more advantageous for café franchises or large-scale roasters that import a high quantity of beans.

China has seen a rapid increase in the amount of coffee coming into the country in recent years, with coffee imports increasing by roughly 43 percent over 2012-2013.

From 2007 to 2011, China imported 137,000 tons of coffee. Of that, 103,900 tons were imported from Vietnam – accounting for over 75 percent of China’s coffee imports and 90 percent of ASEAN’s total coffee exports to China. In addition, during the first half of 2012, China had already imported 15,000 tons of coffee from Vietnam – continuing this trend.


China’s coffee exports are unique because one province in the south, Yunnan Province, accounts for nearly 98 percent of the country’s total coffee production (followed by Hainan Province as a distant second).

Of Yunnan’s total coffee harvest, about 70 percent is exported to various countries throughout the world, including Germany, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

Establishing a Trading Company
Before establishing a trading company in China and importing/exporting coffee, it is important to understand the numerous rules and regulations associated with doing so. Firstly, you have to understand what it is exactly you are trading in both Chinese and English, and the corresponding classification standards. Below is a list of the various coffee related items for import along with their respective HS Code and Chinese name.

  • Shells/Husks 0901901000 (咖啡豆荚及咖啡豆皮)
  • Instant Coffee 2101120000 (以咖啡为基本成分的制品)
  • Concentrated Coffee 2101110000 (咖啡浓缩精汁)
  • Coffee Bean:
    1. Unroasted coffee with caffeine – 0901110000 (未浸除咖啡碱的未焙炒咖啡)
    2. Roasted coffee with caffeine – 0901210000 (未浸除咖啡碱的已焙炒咖啡)
    3. Decaffeinated roasted coffee – 0901220000 (已浸除咖啡碱的已焙炒咖啡)

To establish a coffee trading company in China, the most common entity type used is the foreign-invested commercial enterprise (FICE). A FICE is a common structure for conducting business in China as it is the most appropriate type of business structure available for foreign traders wishing to conduct the following activities:

  • Expand their sourcing platform and take direct care of logistics and quality control;
  • Purchase for the purpose of reselling finished or semi-finished products in China as an intermediary between Chinese suppliers and foreign China-based clients;
  • Import goods to China to sell directly, either in wholesale or retail;
  • Establish a fully operational China sales and after sales platform; and
  • Act as a business support and liaison office for their overseas headquarters, including setting up other branches and employing staff on a national basis.

For more information regarding the scope of business covered under a FICE, the difference between a wholesale/retail FICE, and basic set-up requirements of a FICE, please see our article “Establishing a Trading Company in China” or contact the experts at Dezan Shira & Associates at

Requirements for handling import-export food labeling

  1. Application form for import and export food-labeling verification;
  2. Business license from the producer and distributor;
  3. Seven food label samples – the samples should be complete labels that are identical to those which will actually be used during the import-export and retail processes;
  4. When claims have been specifically emphasized on the food labeling (for instance: natural ingredients, high calcium, low in calories), or there are claims about age, wine storage time, or other special qualities, the producers or distributors should provide explanatory materials for these characteristics;
  5. The imported food labeling should also include the official certificate allowing its sale in the country of origin and certificate stating its production origin;
  6. The exported food labeling should also provide the export sanitation license – applicants should affix the official seal to the application materials;
  7. All of the imported food’s information that is in English must be translated to Chinese;
  8. Two copies of all the application materials must be provided (including translations of the imported food label) and seven food label samples are required – one of each for an entrusted third party inspection organization, one application copy and six food label sample copies for the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine;
  9. Ensure that the characters, images, and symbols on the food label samples are legible and complete – the food label samples must be submitted in paper format and no larger than A4 paper; and
  10. For imported food that requires a Chinese food label to be attached to it, the Chinese label should be attached in a fixed position on the principal layout page. The applicant should submit a complete label with the Chinese food label attached (the position and content of the attached food label in Chinese should be the same as the one which passed the earlier verification).

We cover the certifications for goods imported into China in detail in the October issue of China Briefing Magazine, titled “Selling to China.”

Dezan Shira & Associates is a specialist foreign direct investment practice providing corporate establishment, business advisory, tax advisory and compliance, accounting, payroll, due diligence and financial review services to multinationals investing in emerging Asia. Since its establishment in 1992, the firm has grown into one of Asia’s most versatile full-service consultancies with operational offices across China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore and Vietnam as well as liaison offices in Italy and the United States.

For further details or to contact the firm, please email, visit, or download the company brochure.

You can stay up to date with the latest business and investment trends across Asia by subscribing to Asia Briefing’s complimentary update service featuring news, commentary, guides, and multimedia resources.

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54 thoughts on “Coffee Trading in China

    Devaiah M.B says:

    We here in India are manufacturers of coffee products. We would like to move our products in the Chinese market. Please kindly suggest hoe this can be taken forward.
    We are exporters of green beans and instant coffee products globally.

    Thanks & Regards,


    @Devaiah; Thank you for your enquiry. I have emailed you directly.

    Best wishes

    Christian Dye says:

    Hi! This series was quite informative. Thanks! Do you happen to have a list of green coffee brokers that I could get my hands on? Qingdao is crying out for more high-quality roasters.


    Nicholas says:

    Hi Christian, I’m going to contact you directly regarding this.


    Asia Briefing Ltd.

    Henry O'Connell says:

    Hi Nicholas,

    Would you please be able to supply a similar list of green coffee brokers to myself? I am looking to establish a coffee related business in Shanghai and am looking for import brokers from countries such as Colombia, Brazil and Ethiopia.

    Kind Regards,

    Henry O’Connell

    Eric Cheung says:

    Hi, I am a exporter of coffee beans in Indonesia , i am looking to export it into china , the coffee bean that i have are mostly from Java , i.e arabica or robusta. I also have Luwak that is certified in Indonesia as the authentic Luwak Coffee.

    Best Regards


    Hi Eric,

    Thank you for your inquiry. I have sent you an email directly.

    Best regards,

    Stephen Chinn says:


    I am hoping to increase our companies market share in China. We have over 100 different green bean offerings from 23 origins. Have recently set up warehouses in Hong Kong and Korea to expedite logistics. Checking to see if there is any interest.

    Kindest regards,

    Stephen Chinn

    Esther says:

    We hope can export green coffee beans to China .. What is the procedure ? How many percentage of the tax ?

    Hi Esther,

    Thank you for your inquiry. I have sent you an email directly.

    Chris says:


    I am start up company in China and trying to import Coffee Bean from South America.
    1. set up company in Free Trade Zone in China? Cost? English service?
    2. regulation import coffee bean from South America? Tax? Procedure?
    3. any advice on my business?


    Hey, Thorough information!

    aersilan alimu says:

    we are one of the biggest coffee trading company in switzerland, we try to export our coffee to china, but we need buyers, can you tell us about how to find these buyers?


    Jill Raynor says:

    Hi! Fantastic website – very helpful information. We roast coffee in Perth, Australia. How do we go about exporting our premium coffee to China? Thanks

    Maciel says:

    Dear Friend I have some green coffee from Brasil and I like to knowhow to see in China, any help with that

    Mahyudin says:

    Hi, I am a exporter of gayo coffee beans in Indonesia , i am looking to export it into china , the coffee bean that i have is gayo coffee arabica.I also have Luwak gayo arabica that is certified in Indonesia as the authentic luwak coffee..

    Ian Bersten says:

    How do I contact Stephen Chenn?

    Carlos Rojas says:

    Hello amigos,

    My name is Carlos Andrés Rojas from Domäne Farms. I’m a coffee producer; our farms are located in Colombia South America. We specialized in high quality specialty coffee +84 to +90 cupping Score SCAA. We own more than 3,530 hectares of Specialty coffee trees at 5 farms located at different areas in Colombia, over 10,000 hectares for regular coffee trees at the region of Quindio Armenia. Our Capability ships around the world with average 4,765 Tons, 238 containers per year.
    We opened an office recently in Taipei to give efficient services to our clients in Asia.

    Tibebe Mulugeta says:

    I am export manager for different coffee exporters in Ethiopia and i am looking for reliable market in china. As you know it Ethiopia is the birth place of coffee and still known for arabica coffee with great arauma. therefore, if there is any interested party, feel free to contact me through my e-mail address and i can provide you with export quality product subject to sample approval.
    Thanks in Advance

    wujie says:

    could you tell me how to import 10000 pack of oldtownwhite coffee from malaysia into china, tell me more detail the way, thank you very much

    Calvin says:

    Hello, I would like to export coffee from East Africa to china currently searching for any broker to connect into this business.

    Calvin says:

    we own a honey processing firm, our main customer has just decreased the order , We are looking for the reliable market in any country to supply Honey produced by Appis Mellifera

    Michel Baron says:

    Dear ,

    I represent Brazilian coffee brands and Brazilian wine brands abroad. We already export to USA and Europe. I am interested to start business in China. May you help to give some orientation how to find buyers.

    Thanks a lot

    Michel Baron

    Carlos Diaz says:

    Im a looking to export coffee green bean form Veracruz Mexico. I have a few question and look forward on this venture. If anyone is interested please contact me.

    Daniel says:

    Hello, I am willing to enter the chinese and other market with good quality arabica coffee from the best areas in Colombia and make a partnership. Please, feel free to contact me to establish some connection; I can come easily to Colombia, Brasil, China and other places to meet potential partners. Sincerely. Daniel GAJIC

    Mike says:


    I would like to export 25000 pack white coffee from Malaysia to China . Please advise me and email procedure to me.

    nick says:

    we are an Italian company selling coffee artigianally produced and roasted of very high quality levele. we sell in pods and capsules. we would be very interested to develop business in China and we are looking for a good distributor. can you help us,

    looking forward to receive an answer,

    guntur novianto says:

    Hi this is Indonesian company. We have Luwak coffee, peabery coffee, Arabica from Java, Bali, Toraja,. We are willing to enter export market in China. We hope to meet potential buyer here

    Thank you

    sudin says:

    hi….. i am from nepal and we are plannning to export our coffee to china but the importer said that they cannot import now from nepal is that true?

    Brown says:


    We would like to know if you have a couple brokers in China that might be able to help us import roasted coffee from Costa Rica. If so, could you please send these contacts to me.

    Eliza says:


    We export braizlian coffe from São Paulo and we would reach chinese market.
    How could we know the most importants chineses export trades?

    Thak you very much

    China Briefing says:

    Hi Eliza,

    Please contact our business intelligence analysts for more information on coffee trading in China:

    Ethiopia Asferi says:

    I am a coffee farmer in Ethiopia. I want to export my arebica coffee directly from the farm. Any body interested in importing my coffee to China, welcome.
    Best regards
    Ethiopia A

    Nadyra says:

    Hi, I am from Korean Company in Malaysia. My company would like to export our coffee products into China market. May I get your assistance regarding how to find buyers / distributors? Can you provide the list?

    China Briefing says:

    Hello Nadyra,

    Thank you for reading. A member of our team will be in contact regarding your query. If you have any further questions, please contact us here or here.

    Rio says:

    Hi, I am from Indonesia. We had our own farm,we would like to export our coffee products into China market. May I get your assistance regarding how to find buyers / distributors? Can you provide the list? Thanks

    China Briefing says:

    Hi Rio,

    Thank you for reading. A member of our team will be in contact regarding your query. If you have any further questions, please contact us here

    Paul Fernando says:


    We are suppliers of high quality Arabica coffee from Italy and looking for genuine buyers in China. We also offer services in roasting facilities for companies that wish to roast and package their own coffee products. I would like to ask if you could furnish me with buyers information thank you.

    China Briefing says:

    Hi Paul,

    Thank you for your inquiry. A member of our service team will be in contact with you shortly. For any more questions, please contact us at

    Bruno Lirio says:

    Hi Guys! Your article is very interesting. My name is Bruno and our family have Arabica Coffee farm in Brazil. I have autoparts business with China since 2009 and now I’m looking to coffee business. We are ready to export commercial/gourmet coffee. We are looking for a partner to stabilsh business in China mainland. Can you help us? Waiting for your good news. Tks.

    China Briefing says:

    Hello Bruno,

    Thank you for your inquiry. A member of our service team will be in touch with you shortly. For any more questions, please email us at

    Jose Antonio Souza says:

    Hi guys,

    I’m a coffee producer in Brazil that have annual production of 600tons of high quality Arabica coffee. Nowadays we just supply Brazilian market, but we are interesting to open our market to other countries, specially China.
    If you are importer / wholesales in China or other countries or know someone want to do this business, please get in touch with me for more details.

    Best regards,
    Jose Souza

    Padmini says:

    We are coffee growers and we are into Exports. Now we want to enter into China market to sell our coffee bean. Can you please help with the buyers

    China Briefing says:


    Thank you for your inquiry. A member of our service team will be in touch with you shortly. For any more questions, please email us at

    Graham Carter says:

    My wife is Filipino and she has access to large quantities of native organic single origin coffee beans. Is there a market? Would you guys be interested?
    We have established a network of local growers from the village and they want to develop town facilities like a school and library.
    The purchase cost is particularly cheap, and we can purchase green beans or roasted. She is one of the leaders of the town and they have asked her help to establish long term markets.

    Labi Amaiu says:

    Kamal Gold Coffee,we.are a Papua New Guinean organic coffee producers and are intrested in supplying PNG coffee to China Market.

    China Briefing says:


    Please contact our specialists for market entry advisory:

    Kongsavanh Nanthepha says:

    Hi, we are export company in Laos. My company would like to export our coffee products into China market. May I get your assistance regarding how to find buyers / distributors.
    Your kindly assistance would be appreciated.

    Alex says:

    Hello Kongsavanh,

    Thank you for your inquiry. A member of our team will be in contact with you shortly. If you have any more questions, please email us at

    Emma Wanamitsa says:

    Hello, My name is we have coffee all kinds and and will be greatly interested in starting business in China with available companies we are stationed in Africa.

    China Briefing says:

    Hello Emma,

    Thank you for your inquiry. Please contact our market entry specialists for advisory on your situation:

    AYESIGA ALEX says:

    hey , am a coffee farmer from Uganda, i would like to have a company to make a memorandum of understanding then we can export coffee from Uganda to china and the rest of the world .

    since Uganda has had a good integration with china i hope this can be archived

    so am here to find out how?

    please help me

    thank you

    AYESIGA ALEX says:

    hey , am a coffee farmer in uganda , i would like to make a memorundum of understanding with partner then we can export coffee to china.

    Uganda has had a good integration with china and recently the prime minister was here on many issues including technology and roads .

    so am here to find out how

    please help me

    thank you .

    China Briefing says:


    Thank you for your inquiry. Please contact our market entry specialists for advisory on your situation:

Comments are closed.