Monday, March 5, 2012


I’m happy to be back after not posting for some time. I was sick last week with an upset stomach and the weather lately has just been crap…super cold, gloomy and rainy. Springtime where art thou?! Oh I forgot…I’m in China, where spring doesn’t exist. Okay, maybe for two weeks. But usually, chilling cold winter just turns into super hot summer in June with no transition at all. But I think I’ll talk about the crazy weather here in another post.

So, after being stuck indoors for awhile, I decided to walk around and explore the newly opened Hefei InTime Shopping Plaza, the first luxury shopping mall to open in Hefei. It’s located downtown and it was great seeing all the beautiful stores. But before getting lost in a shoe heaven (there was one entire floor just for shoes!), I started noticing the amount of people lounging and having coffee at the cafes. And I’m talking about lines! And I’ve seen this everywhere lately. At every Starbucks and Costa Coffee in China, you’d be lucky to find a seat at all. In a traditionally tea drinking country, the new café culture has become a growing industry and China’s coffee craze doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.

Cappuccinos at CAFE 1862, HEFEI

In China, a new coffee culture has been emerging over the last five years and international coffee chains such as Starbucks and Costa Coffee are just some of the first to open stores in this new consumer market. Starbucks first opened its first shop in Beijing in 1999 and is now in 52 cities in China. Starbucks has said it plans to triple its stores in China in 2015. Even in slowly developing Hefei, more and more Chinese are developing a taste and real appreciation for coffee especially among the youth who see it as a way to socialize, relax and meet friends and colleagues. This is amazingly evident with the increase of the number of cafes in the city. Coffee in China is also seen as very fashionable and is essentially associated with a Western lifestyle, which appeals to the young college students, open-minded, affluent, highly-educated professionals and urban consumers.

Of course, cafe culture is not new to me. But it certainly is for the Chinese, so I decided to join them in the craze and get in line. It’s true, I am more of a tea drinker now, but even I have to admit…I can’t resist the call of a really good cappuccino. That perfect frothiness, the smell, the taste…yummy!

A lot of cafes are found inside upscale shopping malls like this
Costa Coffee at InTime Plaza, Hefei
Cappuccinos with the Year of the Dragon design

Lounging around and relaxing in a cafe has become a
new craze in China
Other popular international coffee chains in China are Lavazza and Coffee Beanery. Popular and hip Taiwanese coffee chains SPR coffee ( and U.B.C. coffee are also found in many cities all around China as a more affordable alternative.

Enjoying a cappuccino at Bacchus Pub, Hefei

Even a pub in China can now make a decent cappuccino! 
So have you had your caffeine fix for the day?