First to harness and use these unique products were the Aboriginal communities. Now identified as 16 distinct tribal groups, these Austronesian peoples settled the land from a life of seafaring. As other settlers from China and Europe also came to Taiwan, the indigenous peoples retreated into the mountainous and more easily defended territories. Their absorption of the coffee culture, blended with their centuries experience of sustainable husbanding of local resources has them now developing coffee in the East coast areas of Hualien and Taitung.
Taiwan’s fertility soon attracted a mix of settlers from Han Chinese to Portuguese and Dutch. Successively, they realised the potential for the cultivation of a broad range of agricultural products. The introduction of mangoes, bananas, guava, pineapples, yam, cabbage, peppers and potatoes have resulted in Taiwans fame today for locally grown fruit and vegetables. Taiwan’s western flood plane, around Tainan and Chaiyi, is the island’s centre for fruit production alongside flourishing coffee farms.
Thirdly, the Han Chinese brought tea. Along the island’s mountain backbone, for every peak there were protected valleys and rivers. Tea was successfully introduced and, in areas such as Nantou, generations of development has resulted in highly sought after harvests of Oolong, red and black teas which command premium prices in the world market. Coffee farmers found the locations of tea farms afforded similarly strong conditions for the growth of high quality coffee beans.
So 150 years of coffee development has seen -
* farmers adapt beans to growing conditions unique to Taiwan’s geography and flora
* be influenced by the favours and processes employed by Taiwan’s original population and
* find opportunities for cultivation and development amongst Taiwan’s existing tea and fruit culture.