Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > China & Southeast Asia >
Feb 13, 2013 03:19 AM

coffee in Beijing

Any recommendations for places you can get a good espresso based coffee in beijing?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Give up hope all ye who enter here...or however that quote goes. We made a special trip to Ocean Grounds, unit 327, third floor, building 5, San Feng Bei Li, Chaoyang District. First time we tried to find it we failed, but it is near a metro stop and part of a big shopping ctr and open on Sunday. I believe this is as close as you can get to third wave coffee in Beijing.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. There's a place in the village complex in the sanlitun area called Fish eye cafe that has good coffee.

        1. Coffee culture is fairly new in China. I remembered tasting the first "real" espresso and cappuccino there when Starbucks opened its very first outlet in Beijing in 2000.

          8 Replies
          1. re: klyeoh

            Good that you put the real in " ". Coming from Austria, where we have a very old tradition of great coffee, I haven't had any real good coffee in China or HK until today. So mostly I will stick to tea. Just for breakfast I will get a cup of coffee, in HK I prefer Pacific Coffee, even if I always have to try to educate them first to NOT boil the milk as it will not mix with the coffee as it should and burn the aromas out. But this works only every second time, as I don't speak Chinese.

            1. re: NilesCable

              Thats a pretty broad generalization as there are several niche coffee places in Shanghai that are really quite good (for example, Sumerian is stellar). As this is a post for Beijing in particular, we're giving recommendations for solely Beijing, where it is hard to find good coffee.

              1. re: shanghaipartdeux

                I'd also be interested in recommendations for good coffee places in Shanghai. I think I even posted that question in a separate thread.

                1. re: goldilocks76

                  Coming from Austria and knowing good coffee by heart I can only say that I will stay away from it in China and will go for good tea instead. This they know all you can about.

                  If I do have an unstillable craving for coffee I will go to Starbucks in China or Pacific Coffee in HK. Even though I would never go in such a place here in Europe I have to say that they have the least chance of disapointment in China. Just have to tell them to not boil up the milk to ruin the flavor of the coffee if you drink with milk.

                  1. re: NilesCable

                    There are definitely lots of good coffee places in Hong Kong, e.g., Barrista Jam, Rabbithole, 18 grams, Knockbox. But it's more third wave than Viennese.

                    1. re: goldilocks76

                      If I want a coffee, I will want it in the morning without running through half the city to get it.

                      About the tea in mainland, to my experience you will find decent tea in most restaurants in the south, quality and quantity of choices being better the better the restaurant is. I dont expect any tea ceremony, this is China, not Japan!

                      If I would stay a longer time in HK or China I would go on the lookout for good coffee places. But for my rather short trips I don't see the need. I want to take in the culture of the places I go, not bring mine there.

                      About the typical bottle that most Chinese have with them, I wouldnt consider that tea in most cases.

                    2. re: NilesCable

                      There are certainly already hordes of expats in China who arrived "knowing good coffee by heart." They did not adapt to the "things floating in a glass" culture of weak perpetual Chinese "tea," but instead are trying to further educate the Starbucks-obsessed wenqing. Nespresso does excellent business in Beijing, and high-brow high-brew is unquestionably available in "Western" restaurants. Coffee has been "the thing" for a decade already in China.

                      Don't expect to be able to go for a good tea drinking experience outside of homes or tourist traps. It's not a 1920's movie.
                      Apologies if I sound ... "touchy."

                      EDIT: A little more detail. Nearly every person I know in the Mainland has a drink at hand 90% of the time, and if you asked, they Would say it was tea. However, it took me well over two years to control my impulse when I saw someone with their glass--it just looked like a glass of water with 2 or 3 floaties, like the glass was dirty. This is not custom, tea-ceremony, elaborate, or Good Tasting tea; it is considered much more like basic healthcare.

                      1. re: Kris in Beijing

                        Agree wholeheartedly. If you look beyond starbucks/coffee bean and keep an open mind, there are some gems to be found.

            2. I have searched high and low for very good coffee and have not found it yet.Went to Ocean Grounds and found mediocre over priced coffee in a very pretentious place.Oddly enough,although I don't think much of Starbucks coffee,their espresso is not bad.
              You can get good beans and make your own.