Guosing Township (國姓) in Nantou County has become the first coffee-growing region in the nation to own a mark of origin, after the Ministry of Economic Affairs approved the sign reading “Guosing coffee” appellation last month following six months of review.
Guosing unveiled the mark of origin at a meeting of coffee growers at the township office on Tuesday.
The sign features a green mountain to signify the area’s mountainous topography, a brown bridge representing a historic site in the town and a coffee bean in the upper right corner.
The decision by the government to approve a mark of origin for coffee from Guosing was a dream come true for the farmers, who had complained about their products being packaged as the specialty of better-known coffee-growing areas in the nation.
The mark of origin is expected to give Guosing coffee better market appeal, which could push prices higher and improve sales for farmers, Guosing Mayor Lin Fu-feng (林福峰) said at the meeting.
Coffee growers will be subject to stringent checks on quality, pesticide residue and coffee cupping procedures before being allowed to place the mark on their products, Lin said.
The county government, township office and local coffee growers last year launched an initiative to establish a brand for their coffee to better market and add value to their products, which have grown in scale over the decade, but lacked branding.
Guosing farmers used to complain that their beans were being packaged as products from Gukeng Township (古坑), Yunlin County, a famous coffee-growing area in the nation.
Coffee growers in Guosing have picked themselves up from a devastating earthquake on Sept. 21, 1999, and turned swathes of betel nut trees in the mountains — believed to lead to soil erosion — into a coffee-growing paradise.
A majority of Guosing coffee is grown in mountainous areas, at an altitude of between 300m and 1,170m above sea level.
Farmers handpick the beans and do not use pesticides and chemical fertilizers .
The township has expanded its area for growing coffee over the past decade. It is now home to 150 hectares of coffee plantation, the largest among all townships in the nation. It added 8,700 coffee trees this year.