Review: ManLao River Coffee China Nagy Peaberry (Kunming, Yunnan, China)

When you think of coffee-growing countries, what places immediately come to mind? For me, I think of Ethiopia, Brazil, Colombia, Kenya, and Guatemala. China wasn’t even on my radar as a coffee origin at all until last year, but the coffee industry in China has been quietly and steadily growing for decades. Tea is still a more popular beverage than coffee there (the average Chinese person drinks just 3 cups of coffee a year, compared to 363 cups a year for the average American), and this partly has to do with the price – coffee is quite expensive in China. However, demand is rising, with a fascinating battle going on between local Chinese chain Luckin Coffee waging an aggressive war for market share against coffee behemoth Starbucks. Canada’s Tim Horton’s and British chain Costa Coffee are also expanding their presences in China. This quote from CBS News illustrates the industry battle for consumers: “In Shanghai there are now more than 6,500 coffee shops and to say there’s one on every corner would be a gross understatement. On one street, Tracy spotted three right next to each other.”

According to Wikipedia, nearly all the coffee in China is grown in the Yunnan province, which is where these beans are from. The folks with ManLao reached out to me and sent me several bags to test out. My only other experience with Chinese coffee beans was a little underwhelming, but it was obvious that these folks take a lot of pride in their work and care very much about their product, so I was definitely open to trying their coffee. I normally endeavor to test coffee within 2-3 weeks of its roast date, but given that this coffee was coming to me all the way from China, my tasting fell a bit outside that window.

Whole bean: beautiful small oval-shaped beans (definitely peaberries) that smell of raisins.

Chemex: Cashew flavor with a hint of sweetness. Not bad. Mild and nutty.

French press: Rich texture and a gentle hint of fruit (raisin, red grape).

V60: Brewed for 3:25, this was a really interesting cup with balanced flavor and complex notes of nectarine, butterscotch, and sweet cream.

AeroPress: Syrupy sweet like chocolate sauce. There was a slight scent of soap to this but I’m wondering if that might have been a problem with the mug I used – it was an older mug that I own, and I’ve noticed this happening with other tastings I’ve done. I may need to throw this mug out.

Summary: The V60 cup was my favorite of this tasting for its beautiful blend of flavors. This was a really nice surprise, to be introduced to the possibilities of what Chinese coffee can be! Even though I tasted this coffee at over a month post-roast, I don’t think it suffered for it… and it’ll probably be even better if you’re able to try it fresher.

From the roaster: cocoa, musk, plum flower, red apple, roasted cedar

ManLao River Coffee China Nagy Peaberry

Review conducted 32 days post-roast.

Disclaimer: I received this product gratis in exchange for a fair and honest review. Even though I received this for free, I treat and test it the same way as if I had paid for it out of my own pocket.

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