咖啡與靈芝

切入休閒養生市場
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2012 / 9月

文‧朱立群 圖‧林格立


一個是全球飲用人口最多的咖啡品種,一個是擁有中國超過兩億高齡與養生人口潛在市場的保健食品;在海南,第一個引進阿拉比卡咖啡,以及第一個推出野生靈芝商業產品的,都是台商。

搭上打造國際旅遊島的政策列車,海南休閒經濟、銀髮族保健商機一片看好之際,掛著許多「第一」頭銜的台商,真能搶先勝出?


不容諱言,海南是咖啡消費文化的沙漠,迄今未見星巴克等國際知名連鎖或特色店家開張;除了澄邁縣的「福山咖啡」,海南掏不出第二張咖啡名片。

澄邁位於海口市西南方,縣城裡的福山鎮上近年開起零星幾家咖啡廳。福山,也是海南島上最早種植咖啡的地方。

上個世紀30年代,印尼華僑陳顯彰在福山種下羅布斯塔咖啡樹,萌出海南第一支咖啡枝芽;然而,該品種咖啡因含量較高及香氣較淡的缺點,使它至今仍被摒除於精品咖啡之外,以製造罐裝咖啡、即溶咖啡等加工品為主要用途。

就在福山的鄰鎮大豐,一位台灣人10年前引進占7成全球咖啡豆產量、飲用人口最多的阿拉比卡咖啡。當時初次上島務農的這位台商,就是前台南縣副縣長林文定,當年的咖啡資歷有如白紙一張,而如今與人談話,已三句不離咖啡經。

10年前,林文定盤算著海南的「商業化」等於「西化」與「咖啡化」,夢想終有一天咖啡將會全島飄香。

遠離政治喧囂,咖啡園中圖清靜

1954年次的林文定是民主進步黨創黨元老,黨內輩分頗高,1997年被當時連任台南縣長的陳唐山拔擢為副縣長,2001年在黨內接班競逐過程敗下陣來,毅然決然離開政壇,不再回頭。

對林文定來說,到海南投資農業,也算是人生退休規劃的提前兌現。在縣府任職期間,他開始蒐集大陸農業及農產品市場資料,查遍文獻後發現,大陸僅海南與雲南兩地產咖啡;已到海南投資的鄉親也建議他從農業著手,於是請辭副縣長一職後,考量海南的水果產業已達飽和,以及「大陸人和外商做生意,慢慢也會養成喝咖啡的習慣,」因而決定種咖啡。

「隔行如隔山,你怎麼那麼『好膽』?」林文定出發到海南之前,來自黨內換帖同志的關心電話此起彼落,擔心這位政治老手誤闖農業叢林,恐怕連養活自己都成問題。

「咖啡我從小喝,但咖啡樹親眼看到,不超過三次,」林文定回答的口吻,淡定中帶有自信:「但我做足了功課。」

2002年,林文定的農場正式落腳大豐,命名為「古色」。之所以定址於此,林文定有他的堅持,而這份堅持,即是基於他所說的「做足了功課」。

首先,是對種植環境的挑剔。

「最適合種咖啡的土壤是火山岩土,有豐富的有機質跟足夠的濕氣,」林文定總結他從文獻上讀到的知識說。他花兩個月走遍海南,終於在海口附近的澄邁找到心目中理想的土地,承包租下400畝。

其次,是對咖啡品種的選擇。

「來海南之前,我已知道這裡沒種阿拉比卡。全世界80%的咖啡飲用人口喝阿拉比卡,這裡卻沒人喝過!」對於海南不合世界潮流的咖啡消費市場,林文定感到不可思議。

於是,古色農場開張後,他從巴西、印度、台灣引進阿拉比卡咖啡樹種,也趁每次回台停留期間,到雲林古坑、台中蕙蓀林場等阿拉比卡咖啡產地拜師,從栽種技術到烘焙技藝皆有涉獵。

如今,大陸媒體介紹中國的咖啡,都會提到「海南阿拉比卡第一人」林文定;古色生產的豆子賣至海口的咖啡廳,一杯人民幣30元(台幣150元)的價格,也高於本地羅布斯塔咖啡一杯人民幣18元的售價。

然而,林文定預期的「咖啡全島飄香」美夢,實現了嗎?

先天不良,後天失調

「海南的咖啡豆種植產業還很薄弱。」從海南發跡、目前於大陸各大城市開設分店的上島咖啡董事長江裕昌指出,海南境內超過8成的羅布斯塔咖啡都從越南進口。換言之,市場上的咖啡豆,約僅一成是海南農民自種。

「阿拉比卡的種植成效也不是很好。」江裕昌表示,阿拉比卡較適合種植在海拔1,500公尺以上的高山,而澄邁縣內最高峰只在500公尺左右。

「台商在海南種咖啡,人數不超過5人,」江裕昌伸出手指比了比,不看好前景。

林文定坦言,他的阿拉比卡咖啡豆有兩大類客戶,一是大陸官員買作伴手禮,另一類則是來自上海、北京的郵購訂單。

林文定在台灣的從政經歷讓他受到大陸官方的禮遇,聘他為海南省政協顧問,透過此一管道,林文定幫台商發聲、爭取權益之餘,也就瓊、台農業合作提供意見。

也因為如此,林文定的咖啡園兼有扮演示範農場的角色。林文定表示,朝綜合農場轉型是海南目前的政策,因此去年9月一場颱風災害之後,他已將150畝地咖啡園改種菠蘿,一方面配合當地政府的政策,另一方面則是體認到近年受氣候變遷影響,咖啡樹開花異常,打擊到種植事業。

離開台灣的政治圈,在海南種咖啡10載,林文定身材瘦了一大圈,體重從107公斤降至84公斤,正常生活作息讓他身體健康許多。雖然他的海南咖啡夢離當初的預期有段差距,但仍堅持認為「我的構想沒錯」;現在的他,把自己當成咖啡大使,自掏腰包購買相關書籍送給大陸官員,希望藉由官員的示範,提升民眾對咖啡文化的認知。

靈芝養生第一人

如果說林文定是台商在海南的咖啡文化傳教士,現年54歲的黃和平就是靈芝養生的使徒,在海口周一至周五上午打開電視,可收看到由他擔任主講的節目,特別的是,他既談養生保健,也談心性修養的道理。

當年看準海南島開辦經濟特區的投資熱度,1990年到海口闖蕩的黃和平最早從事的是房地產開發事業;然而,一陣盲目砸錢之後,1993年大陸官方採取宏觀調控、打破房市泡沫,當時年近四十的黃和平血本無歸,甚至幾度想自我了結生命。

1997年,黃和平有次開車途經海南的中央山脈——五指山,山路兩旁倒伏的樹幹結滿蘑菇,引發他的好奇;當時他的妻子正與癌症搏鬥,他存著姑且瞭解的心態,隔幾天向朋友湊了點錢,雇用山區的黎族原住民,將沿途看到的腐木與菇類搬回海口。

黃和平自行研讀菇菌類相關書籍,並帶著分門別類後的蘑菇樣本,親赴各大學及醫院中醫部門尋求專業諮詢,自費做毒、藥理及活性的化驗,陸續找出具保健功效的靈芝。

之後的3年內,五指山的野生蘑菇幾乎都被黃和平採集殆盡;為了進一步找尋更多野生菇蕈,大陸各高山野林都有他的足跡。

2001年,黃和平在海口創立萬年蕈野生靈芝公司,是當地少數擁有自營店面的台商之一。目前在他的辦公室裡,仍有五十多種靈芝樣本的展示,有的甚至有數百歲的年紀。

黃和平表示,海南山區僅占全島土地面積的三成,幾年之前,「就連本地人也不相信海南有野生的靈芝。」時至今日,黎族原住民販賣野生靈芝的交易價格,從每斤(500公克)人民幣5元翻漲至2,000元,足足提高了400倍,顯見需求激增。

黃和平說,萬年蕈目前在北京有座奈米技術萃取活性物質的工廠,所生產的靈芝膠囊,被海南政府指定為贈送大陸中央官員的禮物。

台商在海南做生意,「銷路」因涉及複雜人際網絡,往往最令人頭痛。黃和平表示,大陸的代銷管道還不完備,人與人之間無法建立互信,所以萬年蕈的野生靈芝產品不上架、不鋪貨、不代銷,民眾只能在海口、三亞各一個直營店面買到。

「我們工廠一年可生產2~3萬盒,每盒售價人民幣680元。」黃和平透露野生靈芝膠囊的銷售概況,粗估年營業額在人民幣1,300萬元以上(約台幣6,500萬元),這還不包括靈芝茶等其他產品的收入。

靈芝事業穩定之後,黃和平已陸續把經營的工作交由下一代接手,他自個兒除了上電視分享養生心得之外,也巡迴海口、三亞門市,免費幫客人做保健諮詢。

黃和平的么女黃子綺8歲移居海南,目前就讀海南醫學院中醫系。她表示,海口、三亞等大城近年發達了起來,二、三十歲年輕人也開始注重身體的保養。

「以前大部分人吃維他命保健,但這兩年來對中醫藥產品的接受度明顯提高,」黃子綺說。

然而,畢竟不是每種蕈菇都是安全可食,有些甚至含有毒性。黃子綺說,客人通常會帶著自行購買的靈芝前來諮詢,或請店裡專業人員開立安全的食用配方;總的來說,在海南,養身保健「已經不是老人的專利。」

「只有『特殊品種』,才能在市場上冒出頭。」黃和平以農業台商在海南引進高端水果品種獲利為譬喻,為他在海南無人能出其右的野生靈芝事業,做出貼切的詮釋。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

Coffee and Mushrooms: Selling the Good Life on Hainan

Sam Ju /photos courtesy of Jimmy Lin /tr. by Jonathan Barnard

What do the world’s most common variety of coffee beans and a health food that has a potential market of more than 200 million elderly users have in common? Well, on Hai­nan Island anyway, Arabica coffee beans and health foods containing wild reishi mushrooms were both first produced and marketed by Taiwanese.

Taiwanese businesses have hitched their wagons to a policy train that aims to turn Hai­nan into an international tourist island. At a time when Hai­nan’s recreation economy appears strong and the Chinese market for health food products aimed at the elderly is booming, will these Taiwanese firms, however many “firsts” they notch, really find ultimate success by being at the cutting edge in Hainan?


To be sure, Hai­nan is a desert for consumers of coffee. So far no Starbucks or funky independent coffee shops have opened on the island. Apart from those of Fu­shan Coffee, based in Hai­nan’s Cheng­mai County, there are simply no name cards to be had bearing the word “coffee.”

Cheng­mai County is located to the southwest of Hai­kou. A few scattered coffee shops have opened in the county seat of Fu­shan in recent years. Fu­shan was also the first place on the island where coffee was planted.

In the 1930s, Chen Xian­zhang, an overseas Chinese from Indonesia, planted some Robusta coffee trees in Fu­shan. Those were the first coffee trees on the island. Yet, because of Robusta’s high caffeine content and weak aroma, it has long been excluded from the ranks of high-quality coffee and is mainly used for canned or instant coffees.

Ten years ago, in the neighboring township of Da­feng, Lin Wen-ting planted some Arabica, the variety that accounts for 70% of the world’s coffee beans. Lin, a former deputy commissioner of Tai­nan County, had only recently arrived in Hai­nan and he had zero experience with coffee. Today, he is a fount of wisdom on the subject and never stops discussing it.

When Lin decided to plant coffee a decade ago, he predicted that commercialization would equal westernization and would therefore lead to the growth of coffee culture on Hai­nan. His dream was that coffee’s aroma would be found in every locale throughout the island.

Leaving politics

Born in 1954, Lin was a founding member of the Democratic Progressive Party and long occupied senior party positions. In 1997 Tai­nan County commissioner Mark Chen selected Lin as his deputy. When they failed to regain the DPP’s nomination in 2001, Lin left the world of politics without hesitation, never to look back.

As far as Lin was concerned, by going to Hai­nan to invest in agriculture, he was simply moving up a business plan he had originally planned to pursue in retirement. During his time in county government he began to collect information related to agriculture on the mainland and the markets for agricultural products there. After perusing various documents, he discovered that only two places on the mainland produced coffee: Hai­nan and Yun­nan. Moreover, he knew people from Tai­nan who had already invested in Hai­nan, and they suggested that he try investing in agriculture there. In view of the fact that the fruit market on the mainland was already saturated, and thinking that “as Chinese do business with foreigners they will gradually acquire the habit of drinking coffee,” he decided to plant coffee.

“It’s a totally different career!” his former DPP colleagues would call and tell him before he left for Hai­nan. “Where’d you get the gall?” They worried that this old political hand might be making a huge financial mistake by going into agriculture.

“I’ve drunk coffee since I was young, but I haven’t laid eyes on a coffee tree more than three times,” Lin would tell them honestly. Then he’d add: “But I’ve done sufficient homework.”

In 2002 Lin’s farm—Cool Sir—formally opened. As a result of having done “sufficient homework,” Lin was convinced he had picked the right location.

He had been very picky about the planting environment. He spent two months traveling throughout Hai­nan before he finally found the ideal volcanic soil in Cheng­mai, not far from Hai­kou. He took out a lease on 400 mu (26.7 hectares).

Next he had to pick the variety of coffee.

“Before arriving in Hai­nan, I already knew that no one had planted Arabica. Throughout the world, 80% of coffee drinkers were drinking coffee made from Arabica beans, but no one here had ever tried it.” Lin found it inconceivable that Hai­nan was so out of step with international coffee market trends.

Consequently, once the Cool Sir Farm opened, he introduced varieties of Arabica coffee trees from Brazil, India and Taiwan. On trips back to Taiwan, he would take the opportunity to go to Yun­lin’s Gu­keng, Tai­chung’s Hui­sun and other areas where they farmed Arabica. He’d pick the brains of the farmers, getting tips on everything from planting to roasting.

But has Lin’s dream of having “the scent of coffee waft throughout the island of Hai­nan” been realized?

Bad nature, bad nurture

“The coffee bean industry in Hai­nan is still pretty weak,” explains Linus ­Chiang, whose U.B.C. Coffee lounges, which first opened in Hai­nan, are now franchised in major cities throughout mainland China. He notes that more than 80% of the Robusta in Hai­nan is imported from Vietnam. In other words, little more than one-tenth is grown by Hai­nan farmers themselves.

“What’s more, growing Arabica in Hai­nan is not so efficient,” says Chiang. Arabica is more suited to altitudes over 1500 meters, but the highest point in Cheng­mai is only about 500 meters.

“In all Hai­nan there are only about five Taiwanese farmers growing coffee,” says ­Chiang, holding up the fingers of one hand.

Lin notes that he has two basic types of clients for his Arabica beans: mainland bureaucrats who carry it away and customers in Shang­hai or Bei­jing who buy it via mail order.

As a result of his experience in government in Taiwan, Lin has received deferential treatment from mainland bureaucrats. He was hired as a consultant at the Hai­nan committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and, as well as using the position to give a voice to the interests of Taiwanese businesses and fight for their rights, he has provided suggestions on how Hai­nan­ese and Taiwanese businesses can cooperate.

As a consequence, Lin has tried to be a model farmer. He explains that with the current policy in Hai­nan of moving away from farming monocultures, he took 150 mu of old coffee fields that were damaged by a typhoon last September and planted them with pineapples instead. One the one hand he was conforming to local government policies, and on the other he was motivated by understanding the effects of climate change. Irregular blooming of the coffee trees was hurting his business.

Although there is a gap between reality and Lin’s original dream for coffee in Hai­nan, he is still convinced his dream wasn’t wrong. He sees himself as an ambassador of coffee, buying books related to coffee for mainland officials and hoping mainland people will follow their lead to learn more about coffee culture.

Mushroom man: Huang Heping

If Lin is the Taiwanese businessman in Hai­nan that serves as a missionary for coffee culture, then Huang He­ping, 54, is an apostle of rei­shi mushrooms.

Correctly predicting that a flood of investment money would target Hainan’s special economic zone, ­Huang He­ping engaged in real-estate development when he first came to Hai­nan in 1990. Yet, after he blindly invested money, the mainland authorities introduced new regulations in 1993, bursting the real estate bubble on Hai­nan. ­Huang, then 40, lost everything. He was so desperate that on several occasions he contemplated suicide.

In 1997, ­Huang He­ping had occasion to drive through Hai­nan’s central mountains near Mt. Wu­zhi. His eyes were attracted to the fallen trees in the forest on either side of the road, and to the mushrooms that were growing on them. Back then his wife was battling cancer. Wanting to gain a better understanding of the health benefits of rei­shi mushrooms, which are regarded as a superfood in traditional Chinese medicine, he pooled a little money from friends, which he used to hire hands from among the local Li minority people. They brought the rotting logs on which the mushrooms were growing to Haikou.

Huang read books on mushrooms and brought samples of scientifically identified mushrooms to the Chinese herbal medicine departments of various hospitals and universities, paying for tests on toxicity, medicinal properties and active ingredients. He found various rei­shi mushrooms with health-promoting effects.

Within three years, the wild mushrooms of Mt. Wu­zhi had virtually been picked clean by ­Huang, and he brought his search for wild mushrooms to many mountain forests on the mainland.

In 2001 Huang established the Hai­nan Wan­nian­xun Wild Lucid Ganoderma Research Institute Company in Hai­kou, becoming one of a small number of Taiwan firms with an actual shop front in the city. Currently, there are over 50 rei­shi samples in his office, some of them several hundred years old.

Wan­nian­xun has a factory in Bei­jing that uses nanotechnology to extract active components from mushrooms. The rei­shi mushroom capsules that it produces have been officially designated as gifts for central government officials on the mainland.

Huang He­ping explains that sales channels in the mainland are not well developed, and there is insufficient trust between people. Consequently, Wan­nian­xun’s products aren’t found in other stores. They can only be purchased in the company’s own stores in Hai­kou and ­Sanya.

“In one year we produce 20–30,000 boxes of capsules,” explains Huang. “Each box sells for RMB680.” He estimates yearly business at over RMB13 million (about NT$65 million). And that doesn’t include revenue from rei­shi tea and other products.

With the business growing more stable, he has been gradually turning over day-to-day operations to the next generation. Apart from sharing his health secrets on television, he can be found roaming around his stores in Hai­kou and ­Sanya, freely dispensing advice on health.

Huang’s youngest daughter ­Huang ­Ziqi, who moved to Hai­nan when she was just eight years old, is now studying Chinese medicine at Hai­nan Medical College. She notes that as cities in Hai­nan such as Hai­kou and ­Sanya have become more developed in recent years, people in their 20s and 30s have become more concerned about their health.

“It used to be that most people would eat vitamins to protect their health, but in the last two years they’ve become clearly more receptive to the benefits of Chinese medicine.”

Ultimately, not every kind of mushroom can be safely ingested. Some are toxic. ­Huang Ziqi says that customers often come in with questions about rei­shi mushrooms they bought elsewhere. Or they ask experts at the store to provide herbal recipes. Summing up, ­Huang says, “Taking good care of your health is no longer the exclusive province of the elderly.”

“Only with ‘special varieties’ can you gain a stable foothold in the market,” says ­Huang He­ping, deliberately comparing his unique experiences in the rei­shi business with the experiences of the Taiwanese who met success in Hai­nan introducing high-end fruit varieties. It’s an apt comparison.

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