One of the biggest concerns I had upon moving to Beijing was, “Where would I get my coffee?” China is famous for its tea-drinkers; after all, it is the country where tea originated from. China’s tea culture and history span over thousands of years, and in the modern day, Chinese people drink tea as a substitute for water, with meals, for medicinal purposes, and for pleasure. Coffee, however, is a relatively new trend, but it’s quickly catching on, especially with the millennials in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing.
Popular coffee chains like Starbucks and Costa Coffee have already established their presence in China, with Starbucks planning on doubling its store count to 3,000 by next year, and Costa Coffee by 900 in the next two years. So have no fear – there will always be coffee somewhere nearby!
But if you are like me and prefer discovering independent and local coffee shops, you’ve come to the right place to get your caffeine fix in Beijing. Below I’ve compiled a list of my favorite coffee shops (in no particular order) in Beijing that I’ve spent the past six months exploring. I’m the type of person who also enjoys the ambiance of a place, so how the shop is set up, the mood and general people atmosphere are really important to me. I love to sit for hours in a coffee shop with a good book to read, or to complete my Chinese homework. Having a great place to enjoy your coffee is almost as important as drinking delicious coffee, and luckily Beijing delivers some pretty unique cafe environments.
Cafe Zarah isn’t just a good place to sit down with a cup of coffee and a book- they also serve a mean European inspired breakfast menu. Zarah has a beautiful hutong courtyard where you can enjoy a mild afternoon with a good book or your laptop to do some work, or if you’re on the run, they can whip up a to-go-cup of your choice caffeine in a few minutes. The place is pretty popular on weekends with families and kids. My favorite drink on the menu is their Vietnamese coffee – served either hot or cold!
Final conclusion: If the Beijing AQI is good and the sun is shining, grab a seat in the courtyard and soak up some Vitamin D.
42 Gulou E St, Dongcheng District
The Bridge Cafe
The Bridge Cafe is in the heart of Wudaokou, and extremely popular with the students at Tsinghua and Peking University. The place is usually pretty crowded with students catching up work, holding group meetings, and the like. Bridge Cafe also sponsors a lot of cool events and talks, usually on the third floor. There’s always some hustle-bustle going on, so it’s a great place to catch up with a friend over coffee. Bonus – it’s open 24 hours, so if you need to pull an all nighter with caffeine, it’s your place to go.
Final conclusion: Conducive environment for essay writing with just the right amount of background buzz.
Rm 8, Bldg 12, Huaqing Jiayuan, Chengfu Lu, Wudaokou
Final conclusion: Hip, cute place for a romantic first date.
80 Beiluoguxiang, Dongcheng District
Final Conclusion: Your go-to-place for gossiping with girlfriends.
4 JiuXianQiao Lu 798 Art District
Final Conclusion: I’ll be honest, I’ve totally napped on corner couch on the third floor, and you should too.
101 Xi’anmen St, Xicheng District
Maan Coffee is a South Korean chain store, but this shop just west of the Worker’s Stadium North Gate is something special. It is absolutely massive, with two full floors, trees that stretch from floor to ceiling, tall bookshelves, and elaborate chandeliers hanging from the walls and ceilings. You feel like you’re in a large tree house, with unique arrangements of lighting devices everywhere. Maan has a wide selection of sandwiches and snacks as well, but I just had a cup of coffee and sat in the upstairs area for a few hours, taking advantage of the very reliable Wifi to watch some Netflix.
Final Conclusion: Great for big groups because of all the space!
Gongti Bei Rd. Sanlitun
Cafe Alba is just down the street from Zarah, and is one of my most visited coffee shops since it’s so close to where we work at Project Pengyou. I usually pick up an iced coffee there in the mornings, but I have also spent way too much money sampling their delicious menu for lunch and dinner. Alba has a lovely roof terrace as well, which is perfect for a warm autumn day. The place is great for group settings, but if you want some quiet time, there’s a front room that is rarely occupied, with large plush seats and a lovely window view of the busy Gulou street outside.
Final Conclusion: Cute place for a second, third, and sixtieth date. Heck, just get married here.
70 Gulou E St, Dongcheng District
Final Conclusion: They will actually let you sit for 9 hours straight, so why not go for the marathon?
4 S Sanlitun Rd, Chaoyang District
Got any other coffee recommendations in Beijing? Drop a message in the comments section and I’ll be more than happy to visit them!