Thoughts From the Road – Yunnan Coffee

Rice terraces and coffee trees Yunnan, China

I wanted to spend a few minutes reflecting on the last couple of weeks of work. I just finished a two week assignment working with Yunnan Coffee Traders in southern Yunnan, China. We spent most of our time photographing on coffee farms in the area.

Two weeks ago I knew very little about coffee. I’m an occasional, very infrequent, Starbucks customer, and generally buy coffee that seems to be ‘ok’ quality but is not very expensive. I knew almost nothing about the process of how it is produced and the amount of work that goes into producing the bag I purchase.

Farmer processing coffee Yunnan China

Over the last two weeks I have learned a lot about the process, the people, and the business of coffee. It has been an eye opening experience.

My passion and the focus of my photography work is telling the human stories that connect us to the wider world, to other cultures, people and ways of life. What I discovered during my time here is the incredible human effort that it takes to produce the coffee we consume.

farmer drying coffee Yunnan, China

The growing process from planting, weeding, picking and processing is all done by hand.

In Yunnan alone there are thousands of farmers and workers who derive their income and living from coffee. They work hard, they take risks. Their success depends on weather, market prices and the health of their coffee trees.

Hand picking coffee in Yunnan, China

It was an incredible honor to meet just a few of these people and hear their stories. To see the happiness and joy and the pride they have in their work. The bond they share with their families and the land.

Having grown up on a farm it all felt very similar to home – lots of hard work, dependance on a favorable outcome that is out of your control, and a love for the land.

Coffee pickers walking down the road toward home in Yunnan, China

I have been blessed to have the opportunity to be in these places and tell the stories of these people.

I’m working on publishing these stories and will have more to share soon.

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  1. Bettie Evans

    Beautiful pictures. Would love to hear stories!!!

    • Bryon Lippincott

      Thanks Betty,

      I’m working on getting the stories published as I have time.

  2. Mark Myers

    They are beautiful pictures of beautiful people and places. The coffee looks good, too.

    • Bryon Lippincott

      Thanks Mark,

      It definitely is a beautiful place. I had a wonderful time meeting all the people and getting a small glimpse into their lives


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