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Getting Your Coffee Fix in China

As a traveler to China, you might know that China has a profound tea culture, but coffee culture is more of a recent thing. So you might be worried about your possible low-caffeine, coffe-less tourist days. Here, we can definitely tell you, it is easy to get your coffee fix in China.

We'll teach you some coffee vocabulary and sentences, and introduce you to where to find a Starbucks in Beijing and Shanghai.

Coffee in China

In China, instant coffee is widely sold in China (especially in urban areas). There are Starbucks (and of course other innumerable cafes) in metropolises like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Hangzhou, and Xi'an, and small coffee houses serving real ground coffee are easy to find in a hot tourist destinations like Guilin, Lijiang, and Yangshuo.

Café-goers in China: All the coffeehouses in China at present are based on the developing demand for coffee among China's growing urban middle class, while most people in China's rural areas are still unfamiliar with coffee. If your tour includes countryside and you do not want to forgo coffee, you need to prepare packets of coffee in advance.

Different from in western countries, China has not much of coffee culture. Aside from non-Chinese, most of café-goers consist of four general categories: businessmen holding meetings, young couples dating, middle-aged women chatting over coffee and pastries, and the young gathering for some leisurely games like playing cards and board games.

In fact, many young urbanites patronize cafes as an out ward sign of their engagement with global trends. Their coffee-drinking is more about seeking a certain kind of experience than a habit.

Left Bank Cafe in GuilinThe Left Bank Cafe in Guilin.

Tea and pastries: Many coffeehouses in China not only serve coffee (including espresso, Americano, latte, mocha, macchiato, cappuccino, and black coffee), but also serve tea (especially fruit tea and flowering tea), pastries (such as croissants, sandwiches, cheese cakes, and tiramisu), and ice cream.

Free Wi-Fi is available in most coffee houses. If the Wi-Fi is password protected, you can ask the waiter or waitress for the password. Be prepared that the Wi-Fi might be slow or with a weak signal.

Most hotels in China offer coffee. The coffee quality is dependent on the standards of hotels. Most of these hotels only offer instant coffee, and only five-star hotels may offer fresh ground coffee.

The Price of Coffee in China

In China, a cup of 'real' coffee may cost you 20-30 yuan. There are also western chains in large cities. Take Starbucks for example: a drink from Star bucks easily costs more than an entire meal at McDonald's, which in turn is several times more expensive than a simple dumpling dinner. In Beijing, the cheapest iced Americano is 21 yuan per cup.

If you need some small instant coffee sachets for the train or a quick fix, then you can find Maxwell House and Nescafe in most supermarkets. They cost about 15 yuan for around 6 sachets in Beijing (15 yuan for 20 sachets in Guilin). 3 in i or plain granules are available.

Starbucks in Beijing

The StarbucksThe Starbucks

There are more than 100 Starbucks in Beijing. Here we list the top 6 branches according their evaluation and popularity.

1. At Sanlitun Village (三里屯)
Address: 19 Sanlitun North Road, Chaoyang District (朝阳区三里屯北路19号)
Tel: 010-6417 6110

2. At The Place (世贸天阶)
Address: 9 Guanghua Road, Chaoyang District (朝阳区光华路9号)
Tel: 010-6587 1188

3. At Joy City (西单大悦城)
Address: A131 Xidan North Street, Xicheng District (西城区西单北大街甲131号)
Tel: 010-66517777

4. At Jianwai SOHO (建外SOHO)
Address: Floor 5, East Area of Jianwai SOHO, 39 Dongsanhuan Middle Road, Chaoyang District (朝阳区东三环中路39号建外SOHO东区5号楼内)
Tel: 010-58690273

5. At Qianmen Street
Address: 1-1 Qianmen Street, Congwen District (崇文区前门大街1-1号)
Tel: 010-63010108, 63027966

6. At Fenglian Square (丰联广场)
Address: Floor 1, Fenglian Plaza, 18 Chaoyangmenwai Street, Chaoyang District (朝阳区朝阳门外大街18号丰联广场1楼)
Tel: 010-65880503

Recommended tour: 4-Day Essence of Beijing Tour

Starbucks in Shanghai

There are more than 150 Starbucks in Shanghai. Here we list branches according their evaluation and popularity.

1. Inside Binjiang Park (滨江公园内)
Address: Binjiang Park, Fudu Section of Binjiang Avenue, Pudong New District (浦东新区滨江大道富都段滨江公园内)
Tel: 021-58781332

2. Inside People's Park (人民公园内)
Address: 189 Nanjing West Road, Huangpu District (黄浦区南京西路189号)
Tel: 021-63271930

3. In Meiluo City (美罗店)
Address: Unit 219, Floor 2, Meiguo City, 1111 Zhaojiabang Road, Xuhui District (徐汇区肇嘉浜路1111号美罗城2楼219号)
Tel: 021-64268250

4. At Ganghui Henglong Plaza
Address: Unit 101, Ganghui Henglong Plaza, 1 Hongqiao Road, Xuhui District (徐汇区虹桥路1号港汇恒隆广场101铺位)
Tel: 021-64486377 64480045

5. At Wanda Plaza (万达店)
Address: Floor 1, Wanda Plaza, 600 Handan Road, Yangpu District (杨浦区邯郸路600号万达商业广场1楼)
Tel: 021-65102267

6. At CITIC Square (中信泰富广场)
Address: CITIC Square, 1168 Nanjing West Road, Jing'an District (静安区南京西路1168号中信泰富广场内)
Tel: 021-62180180

7. At Tian'ai Road (甜爱路店)
Address: 2258 Sichuan North Road, Hongkou District (虹口区四川北路2258号)
Tel: 021-65878807

8. Near Chengle Road (近长乐路店)
Address: Floors 1-3, 37 Shanxi South Road, Luwan District (卢湾区陕西南路37号1-3楼)
Tel: 021-62150176, 62717217

Recommended tour: 3-Day Essence Of Shanghai Tour

Coffee Vocabulary

  • Coffee: 咖啡 kāfēi or /kaa-fay/
  • Instant Coffee: 速溶咖啡 sùróng kāfēi or /soo-rong kaa-fay/
  • Freshly Ground Coffee: 现磨咖啡 xiànmó kāfēi or /sshyen-mo ka-fay/
  • Espresso: 浓缩咖啡 nóngsuō kāfēi or /nong-swor kaa-fay/
  • Cappuccino: 卡布奇诺 kǎbùqínuò or /kaa-boo-chee-nwor/
  • Lahti: 拿铁 nátiě or /naa-tyeah/
  • Mocha: 摩卡 mókǎ /mor-kaa/
  • Macchiato: 玛琪雅朵 mǎqíyǎduǒ or /ma-qee-ya-dwor/
  • Sweener: 甜味剂 tiánwèijì /tyen-way-jee/
  • Sugar: 糖 táng or /tung/
  • Milk: 牛奶 niúnǎi or /nyoh-neye/
  • Skimmed milk (less fat milk): 脱脂奶 tuōzhǐ nǎi /twor-jrr-neye/
  • Refill: 续杯 xùbēi or /sshyoo-bay/
  • Another Cup: 再来一杯 zàilái yìbēi /dzeye-leye ee-bay/
  • Cheese cake: 芝士蛋糕 zhīshì dàngāo or /jrr-shrr dan-gaoww/
  • Chocolate cake: 巧克力蛋糕 qiǎokēlì dàngāo or /chyaoww-kurr-lee dan-gaoww/
  • Muffin: 松饼 sōngbǐng /song-bing/
  • Ice cream: 冰淇淋 bīngqílín /bing-chee-lin/

Useful Sentences

Ordering Coffee

  • Is the milk sweet? I don't like sweet milk. 这牛奶是甜的吗?我不喜欢甜牛奶. (zhè niúnǎi shì tiánde mā? wǒ bùxǐhuān tián niǘnǎi.)
  • Is the coffee freshly ground or instant? 这咖啡是现磨的还是速溶的?(zhè kāfēi shì xiànmó dē hāishì sùróng dā?)
  • I want freshly ground coffee. 我要现磨咖啡. (wǒ yào xiànmó kāfēi.)
  • It's too cold. 这咖啡太凉了. (zhē kāfēi tài liáng lē.)
  • The waiter (waitress) may ask you: How big is the cup? 要多大杯? (yào duō dà bēi?)
  • There is often medium-size cup (中杯 zhōngbēi) and big cup (大杯 dàbēi).


  • When you want to refill, but you do not know whether the refill is free or not, you can ask:
    Do you have free refills? 你们这免费续杯吗? (nǐmēn zhè miǎnfèi xùbēi mā?)
  • If the refill is not free, you can ask: Is the refill discounted? 续杯有优惠吗? (xùbēi yǒu yōuhuì mā?)
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