HOME > Chowhound > China & Southeast Asia >


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. 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.

            1. There is coffee, good, real coffee, but much of it is in the expat enclaves and not on the tourist map.

              1. Kris,can you name a few places?Thanks

                1 Reply
                1. re: tming

                  Sorry -- I fw'ed this post via facebook to a professional barista in BJ, but he responded To Me on fB and not to Here!!

                  His brief answer:
                  Fish Eye and Ocean Grounds are in my top five.
                  I'd also add Flat White Cafe in 798
                  Backyard Cafe near Liangmaqiao.

                2. Here is my report on the cafes we went to in Beijing, some of the ones that were recommended and others that just took our fancy. We had better coffee in Shanghai, but some of the places in Beijing were cool places to sit and get a caffeine injection. I have to say I was impressed that almost everywhere got the foam on the cappuccino right. Even in non-specialist places there was none of that dry over-aerated stuff that you so often find in the UK and the US.

                  Ocean Grounds
                  327, UTown Mall 3rd Floor, 5 San Feng Bei Li, Chaoyang District, Beijing China, Beijing, China, 100010

                  Ocean Grounds has its heart in the right place but, whilst it's better than Starbucks and its ilk, it isn't worth going out of your way for. Having said that, the problems with our cappuccinos were both barista faults - over-aerated milk and bitterness from over extraction - so maybe it would have been better on another day.

                  The Yard
                  55号 Wudaoying Hutong, Dongcheng, Beijing, China
                  +86 10 6407 7608

                  The Yard had the milk foamed correctly. Coffee was illy or some such, and pleasantly inoffensive. Nice Courtyard setting.

                  Flat White
                  798 Artbridge Gallery
                  751 D-Park

                  Flat White served up the sort of cappuccino that is the norm in the US and the UK: too much milk, too much foam and chocolate on the top. (It reminded me of the coffee at Classified in Hong Kong). But the flat white was the business, the strength of an Italian cappuccino but without the foam, and a good taste from the beans, which are from rickshaw roasters. On a second visit, we found there was a lot of cup variation, and we liked some more than others. But it was still the best coffee we had in Beijing. Location at 751 D-Park has a better design and ambiance.

                  Four cafe/ bar/ zakka/ lab
                  Xi cheng qu jiu gu lou da jie qian ma chang hutong 37 hao

                  The cappuccino  is more like a latte at this cafe-bar in the hutong near the drum and bell towers. But we liked it as a place to sit. The decor and ambiance was shabby chic (eclectically mismatched vintage furniture and objets, a set of LPs on the wall, télépopmusik’s Angel Milk in the background). Good flourless chocolate cake and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice.

                  The High Place
                  798 Art District, 4 Jiuxianqiao Lu, across from UCCA
                  酒仙桥路4号, UCCA 的对面
                  Just opposite the Flat White on 798. The coffee isn't as flavoursome but it's quite acceptable, and the main reason to come here is to sit on the roof, amongst the tree that is growing through it, and watch the people on the streets below. Very cool. Apparently the Gao brothers, who were exhibiting in the ground floor gallery think so too, as they were ensconced at a prime table.

                  1 Reply