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We also understand, conceptually, that this change will manifest as many things simultaneously, as wholesale and retail opportunities drive supply chain disruption and competition for resources.
In this issue’s News Item (page 18), Kehong Jin of Coffee Geek Lab in Dalian, China, does a great job of presenting an overview of the growth of coffee and specialty coffee in China. However, what really piqued my interest was his experience participating in and watching the growth of specialty coffee in Dalian itself. I took a moment to look up the population of Dalian, which, if you are as nascent in Chinese geography as I am, you cannot point out on an unlabeled map, nor can you say anything specific about the city without consulting Google. It turns out this city, which only a few years ago had almost no specialty coffee roasters, has a population of more than 3 million people. Perspective is what gives color to concepts, and to put this into perspective, if Dalian were in the United States, it would be in the top five largest cities in the country.
This is one city in China. I recently returned from participating in the China Specialty Coffee Roasting International Forum (hosted by the Yunnan Coffee Exchange and Roast China) in Pu’er, China, a small city that even my airport gate agent had never heard of, which is home to more than 2 million people. Again, to put this into perspective, these are just two of China’s numerous large cities with urbanizing populations and growing disposable incomes that just a few years ago had few, if any, specialty coffee roasters.
Although China is also coming up the curve as a coffee-producing nation, it will not come close to adding enough specialty coffee to the market to keep pace with its growth in consumption. This, along with the rise in consumption in other nations and the impacts of climate change, will continue to disrupt the available supply of specialty coffee. Perhaps the existing roasters and importers best positioned to handle this change are those developing direct relationships with producers that ensure both parties share in the economic success today and into the future. I look forward to discussing this with you at future conferences and retreats and through your emails and social media postings as these concepts become reality and impact everyone in our industry.
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