China is notoriously a consumer of tea, but nevertheless, in recent years, it has become one of the largest coffee consumers among emerging countries. In particular, coffee consumption has grown among young Chinese professionals. According to the analysis of the coffee market reported by Chinabgao, the growth rate of coffee consumption in China is about 20% per year, more than 2% above the global growth rate. Experts believe that the Chinese coffee market could reach trillions of yuan within 10 years.

The traditional drink of China is tea, but more and more people are switching over to coffee. The government supports this trend well enough that they’ve devoted an entire event just for the purpose of Haikou’s I-Coffee Exposition for instance


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Figures on the coffee market in china

With a 15% annual growth rate, coffee is the new culture in China. Leaders like Starbucks and Nestle have played significant roles to make this happen with their loyal customers who drink more than ever before!

  • Revenue in the Coffee Market reaches nearly US$2,087m in 2018. The market is expected to grow annually by 14.3% (CAGR 2018-2021).
  • The market’s largest segment is the segment Instant Coffee with a market volume of US$2,075m in 2018.
  • The average per capita consumption stands at 0.05kg in 2018.
  • The Chinese coffee market is projected to witness a CAGR of 10.15% during the forecast period (2021 – 2026).

The rise of the Chinese middle class and a better standard of living has allowed the opening of hundreds of new coffee shops throughout China. According to, in 2016 their number has increased exceeding 100 thousand points of sale

Local Coffee Products is limited, Opportunities for foreign Producers

China is an important producer and consumer of coffee, with production, limited to two southern provinces. Recently a new agency has been established in Yunnan that will promote their local product more effectively for both domestic consumption as well international markets!

Instant Coffee Gaining its way into Chinese Offices & Household

Instant coffee is a popular choice among the Chinese. With an increasing household expenditure as well as changing lifestyle trends we are going to see this trend become more and more mainstream. With the growing preference for instant coffee, manufacturers have launched several flavors (ex: In May 2019, Nestle launched a Fruity Ice Coffee that took 6 months to develop) to attract more people and increase sales overall. The popularisation of online shopping platforms is also going to play a major role for instant coffee brands.

Coffee Franchise in China are all the rage, especially in 1st tiers Cities

Making a ranking of the most competitive brands, in the urban cities, where the western lifestyle is more widespread, Starbucks and Costa firmly hold the top positions in terms of customer flow, according to the statistics of BMI Research in London. On the top list is Starbucks, which has adapted its format for Chinese consumers, with 2800 stores open in 130 cities, as many as 600 in Shanghai alone, more than those in New York or London.

Costa in China has focused a lot on the analysis of the local market and is willing to change its offer according to the tastes of consumers in the various regions. For this reason, it is not strange to hear customers say that, for example, Beijing’s Costa coffee tastes slightly different from that of Shanghai. In addition, the English chain offers different types of tea, a quiet environment, and loyalty programs with cards or apps.

Local coffee brands in china

luckin coffee why was it succesful

 Despite the predominant position of the big chains, coffee boutiques not affiliated with big brands are very popular: this type of premise offers a more comfortable environment and service.

  • Lisun: Founded in 1987 in the province of Hainan, Lisun is the first company to introduce instant coffee in China. It became particularly famous for its coconut coffee. The company owns its own coffee plantation on the island of Hainan. Over the years, it has diversified its product range by launching different tastes of coffee, other types of beverages on the market and also selling roasted coffee as well as soluble coffee.
  • Luckin Coffee: A relatively new brand in the Chinese coffee industry, Luckin was founded just a few years ago in 2017. Despite its relatively new status, Luckin already maintains over 4500 stores which surpass the presence of coffee power-house, Starbucks. Luckin has achieved this great growth and popularity by implementing technology to reach consumers and by allowing customers to use their mobile devices to order coffee for delivery or pick-up.
  • Hogood: Hogood is a Yunnan-based company founded in 2007. It is one of the largest coffee growers grown in China and one of the best-selling local coffee brands in the country. Hogood produces and sells roasted coffee, available in both grains and ground, and instant coffee.


  • Starbucks: Starbucks has had a major presence in China since it started selling coffee there in 1999. With over 4,000 stores throughout mainland China, Starbucks has been a leader in the market for many years. The success of the international coffee power-house in China has been attributed to their keen understanding and appeal to Chinese culture.
  • Tim Horton’s: The Canadian coffee and doughnut brand began operations in mainland China in 2019 and recently received investment from one of China’s largest social media companies, Tencent. The investment deal is set to assist Tim Horton’s in expanding to over 1500 stores and is seen as a direct competitor to Starbucks.
  • Peet’s Coffee: Peet’s Coffee, which was founded in the United States in San Francisco, first entered the Chinese market in 2017. The brand has been direct to competitors to Starbucks in the United States and the battle continues over market share in mainland China. Peet’s Coffee differentiates itself from competitors, however, by providing high-quality experiences in their unique store locations.
  • Lavazza: Lavazza is an iconic Italian brand that just recently entered the coffee market in China in 2020. They have partnered with Chinese restaurant conglomerate, Yum China, which has benefited them greatly in penetrating the market and navigate cultural norms in China. Furthermore, the company has its focus on higher-end consumers. 

Your Target: Chinese Millenials

According to, the young people of the emerging middle class represent the driving force (75%) of the black beverage boom in the eastern country. Within this segment, female customers represent the largest share: 70%. Young consumers are demanding and pay particular attention to professionalism, drinks, and services tailored to their tastes, to a style of ceremonial service, to the care of the environment, and the diversification of menus among the various coffees.

Various market players operating above all offline are fighting against competitors active in e-commerce and offering high-quality coffee and food as a weapon to attract customers and offer them good reasons for staying in the long and fruitful coffee in terms of consumption.

How to sell your coffee in China?

Foreign companies that have opened successful online stores all have two common characteristics. They have the know-how to export to China and have a deep knowledge of digital technology. We need to do an important job to promote our brand on Chinese eCommerce platforms, with investments in marketing and communication

You can also read our Strategic Guide to Export Food Brands in China


In China, the B2C model is dominated by the Tmall portal of the Alibaba group, which holds a 56.6% stake. The other operators are very far. In the second place, there is JDcom with 24.7 %. An increasing number of Chinese people are buying import products online, using some e-commerce platforms authorized by the Chinese government. The marketplace offers obvious advantages:

  • Existing and known platform
  • Online payments already active
  • High traffic
  • Assistance 24/7

For a marketplace of those mentioned above we are talking about daily visits of millions of users, with an average purchase rate of around 30%, which for some online shops within them also counts in a 50%, once activated optimal customer service and put in place a well-designed promotion and visibility campaign. A thousand billion dollars is what Chinese e-commerce has been worth in 2017.


Having a Chinese Landing page hosting in China is an interesting and innovative solution created for anyone who wants visibility and success in the Chinese market. Thanks to the hosting of the page in China it is guaranteed the objective to be known in the Chinese market and to create business opportunities, such as looking for customers or partners, as well as Chinese importers or wholesalers.


A key operation is the optimization of search engines (SEO). The more you sell, the higher the search results appear. Businesses should invest in SEO and buy keywords based on “pay per click”. The higher the price of a keyword, the higher your products will appear in search results. And the more you sell, the more you position yourself at the top. It is essential to participate in online sales events or industry-specific events such as food weeks.


In China, major social networks such as Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter are banned and wage WeChat, a platform halfway between Whatsapp and Facebook. It is precisely on WeChat that most transactions are finalized, with staggering numbers: 877 million active users every day and just under 600 million transactions per day. On the app in question takes place most of the activities related to online buying and selling: live assistance (and strictly in local language); the style advisory in real-time (with experts in fashion, beauty, and design that offer, always in chat, their own personalized advice) and online customer opinions, which can also be contacted, always via chat, by those who want to have direct information.

In this regard, it is interesting to highlight how the WeChat Pay payment function is increasingly used. As emerges from the Global Web Index data, in 2017, 46% of Chinese consumers said they made a mobile purchase and WeChat Pay was used by one in three people, reaching AliPay’s market share in a few years (39 %), the payment system of the Alibaba e-commerce giant.

Why did Luckin Coffee not Outrank Starbucks in China?

 If you are a Coffee Franshise/store Use WeChat mini-programs

 WeChat has gained great traction with the implementation of its mini-programs which are, in essence, an app within the app. These mini-programs are an incredible way for brands to connect with customers by providing unique content and functionality within the WeChat app itself. These mini-programs allow users to perform a variety of tasks and access features such as purchasing products, ordering take-out, accessing coupons, and much more.

With over a million of these mini-programs in the WeChat ecosystem and over 750 million active users, the creation and implementation of a WeChat mini program are critical for engaging in the best way with Chinese consumers. 

Are you thinking to export your coffee brand? Contact GMA a digital marketing agency, specialized in the Chinese digital market.

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  1. Yes I I want to start my own coffee import business herein Beijing.. I will be having coffee from Ethiopia imported for sale here in China. I may can seriously use your assistance and help.. in branding this product, any asssistance you provide to me will most helpful.. I am starting off very small.. Thank U

      1. Hi,
        we want to export/sell coffee material or roasting to China. Please give a convenience contact,


  2. ” Angent Wanted” – Top grade Vietnamese coffee want to sell in China.

    Looking for someone in China working together closely as partner with each other.

    Contact me at wechat wxtpe58 or by mail for more information, thanks.

  3. Please we want to export/sell our coffee beans, please can you give us informations on how to export) sell our coffee beans

      1. Dear Olivier, Pleased send you offer with following details:

        1. Commodity: Vietnamese Robusta green coffee bean R3. Purpose: extraction caffeine for medical use
        2. Quality:
        Moisture: 13 % max.
        Foreign matter: 7 % max.
        Black & Broken: 35 % max.
        Beans size: min. 80% on screen No. 13

        Packing: in new PP bags of 60.0 kgs net.

        Inspections at port of loading by Cafecontrol to be final.

        3. Quantity: 16.0 MTS (300 bags in 01*20’ FCL)

        Franchise 5% at seller’s options.

        Unit price CIF Shsnghai USD per/MT

        VIETNAM– Incoterms 2000.

  4. Hi ! we are manufacturer of instant coffee in Vietnam. we mainly focus on developing OEM products, we also sell our own brand, but not much. We want to sell our products to Chinese market now. Can you give some tips to develop our brand in China.

    1. Dear Lucas, how are you doing?  

      Thanks for your mail and price of small ready-packed 100% agglomerated instant coffee.

      Please read my inquiry eith carefully and send me following products’ quote sheet asap by return mail

      100% Agglomerated instant coffee

      2 in 1 instant coffee (35% coffee 65% sugar)
      Above 2 instant coffee Q’ty: Same 2*20GP monthly

      Also need to show me the Certificate of Inspection by the 3rd. party, Specs. and Nutrition information of your coffee for above 2 items separately

      Price term CIF to Bangkok

      Terms of payment
      The soonest possible delivery

      Best regards

  5. Dear Olivier, Pleased send you offer with following details:

    1. Commodity: Vietnamese Robusta green coffee bean R3. Purpose: extraction caffeine for medical use
    2. Quality:
    Moisture: 13 % max.
    Foreign matter: 7 % max.
    Black & Broken: 35 % max.
    Beans size: min. 80% on screen No. 13

    Packing: in new PP bags of 60.0 kgs net.

    Inspections at port of loading by Cafecontrol to be final.

    3. Quantity: 16.0 MTS (300 bags in 01*20’ FCL)

    Franchise 5% at seller’s options.

    Unit price CIF Shsnghai USD per/MT

    VIETNAM– Incoterms 2000.

  6. Hi everyone,

    We are an American-based coffee brand looking to export our Latin American coffee products to China. If you can please assist, guide, or lead us to companies that would be interested, that would be great!

    Global Origins Inc

  7. Hello, I export coffees all around the world, I represent a coffee company based in Ethiopia and we are looking to expend our market to the China market. I’m looking for potential Chinese buyers.
    This is the type of coffee we export :

    1-Roasted Coffee (100% pur Arabica) Grounded 1kg Expresso
    2-Roasted Coffee (100% pur Arabica) Grounded 500Gmr Expresso
    3-Roasted Coffee (100% pur Arabica) Grounded 250Gmr Expresso

    1-Roasted Coffee (100% pur Arabica) Grounded 1kg Filter
    2-Roasted Coffee (100% pur Arabica) Grounded 500Gmr Filter
    3-Roasted Coffee (100% pur Arabica) Grounded 250Gmr Filter

    1. Hello,

      Selling coffee in China can be very lucrative but I believe you have the wrong approach. For instance, this blog is for foreigners that are looking for information on how to to business in China. The chances you find Chinese distributors this way are extremely thin, the same goes for email. We posted plenty of articles on our blog to explain the best practices to build a distribution network in China. If you still have some doubts, please contact us, we will be happy to take 30 min to explain to you the market.

      1. Can you please contact me in private through email?
        We are a roasting business based in Australia and we are looking to export in China.

      2. Hello! We want to export and sell our coffee beans . Please contact us! We would like to hear your expertise

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