Rueters,    Monday, November 03, 2014 - 01:52

China may be best known for tea but it's emerging as a key coffee producer. One of the world's biggest 

coffee merchents - Switzerland's Volcafe - recently signed a joint venture with a Chinese producer. 

Hayley Platt looks at what's happening to the coffee industry.


70 million cups of coffee are consumed in Britain everyday. It could soon replace tea as the nation's 

favourite brew. Stephen Rappaport is part of that revolution. He runs Pact Coffee which supplies the 

high end market. SOUNDBITE: Stephen Rappaport, CEO and Founder, Pact Coffee, saying (English): 

"The way that we compete is because we have real one-on-one relationships with our customers. It's 

something the supermarkets can't offer. We know what product individually each customer likes and we 

make recommendations." Pact buys coffee directly from farmers in order to get the best beans. And it 

pays a high premium in a world market that's becoming increasingly volatile. Droughts in Brazil and a 

devastating crop fungus in Central America have seen futures prices soar. Stephen Hurst is MD of 

coffee importers Mercanta. SOUNDBITE: Stephen Hurst, Managing Director, Mercanta Limited, saying 

(English): "If we look at it and say Brazil's the world's biggest producer of coffee, so what happens there 

matters. It seems the rainfall patterns have been disrupted, there should be a rainy period after the 

harvest, almost 30 percent since mid-July. They topped $2 a lb in August and have gained another

10% since then. That could benefit China. It's been steadily growing its Arabica crop over the past decade. 

SOUNDBITE: Stephen Hurst, Managing Director, Mercanta Limited, saying (English): "They produce 

at least 1 million bags of Arabica coffee, which isn't huge but it's not too much smaller than Cost Rica 

for instance and I'm sure they will continue to grow that production in the Yunnan, the tea producing 

area, which can also produce coffee." Stephen hasn't bought any Chinese coffee yet. But one of the 

world's biggest coffee merchants has. Switzerland's Volcafe has just signed a deal to buy beans from 

China. Like Britain's taste in hot drinks the market is clearly changing.