Sitting before me is one of the most photographed cups of coffee on Chinese social media. It is served on a wooden tray with a bottle of flowers; a generous serving of candy floss dangles over a cup of Americano. Delicate tufts of the candy drips into the cup as heat from the beverage melts the spun sugar — amid a chorus of giggles and a barrage of camera clicks — resulting in a sweeten cup of java. The name of this cuppa? Sweet Little Rain (of course).
While the coffee is hardly remarkable, Mellower Coffee cafe in Shanghai sells more than 200 cups of this signature drink on weekends. It’s interesting because statistics show that the average Chinese drinks just five cups of coffee a year (the majority still turn to tea for their caffeine fix). But these days, it is not surprising to find a Starbucks outlet just 400m away from another in Shanghai. The city isn’t just a business hub or a place for tourists to sightsee or queue up for Nan Xiang’s popular xiao long bao any more; Shanghai is opening itself up to the coffee boom.
QUALITY STAFF AND COFFEE
In a way, the proliferation of Starbucks in China has led to an interest in specialty coffee there. “Actually, Starbucks is really paving the way for us specialty coffee roasters because the first time most Chinese people drink coffee is from a Starbucks store. That’s when they first discover the flavour and, with that, they develop a desire to better understand coffee and taste better types,” said Nils Weisensee, the German owner of Cafe del Volcan.