Coffeeology in the metropolis
More and more coffee shops are combining themselves with another line of business, such as selling clothes, fragrances, footwear or even hosting art exhibitions. Zhu Jing investigates the rise and grind of the phenomenon.
Sportswear + Coffee
DOE Coffee is a place where you can taste the best of both worlds — coffee and fashion. The L-shaped open bar is divided into two sections, an ordering area with a La Marzocco espresso machine and a bar for hand-drip coffee.
The industrial decor, with a lofty ceiling, makes the combo store feel bigger than it is. Left of the bar sits a line of seats facing the street, which are convenient for SOHO workers to plug into sockets and power up laptops just below the table on the ground.
If you like to read, magazines and books (in Chinese, English and Japanese) about coffee, fashion, design and travel are at hand. Apart from your regular coffee, you can find some very interesting beverages at DOE. The cascara drink (made from cascara of Geisha variety) tastes like a fruit-flavored tea, refreshing when it’s chilled. Craft grape, similar to craft beer, has a lovely purple-color topped with two grapes on a stick. The topping foam is a highlight, making it taste like a grape-flavored beer. The subtle coffee taste goes so well with the grape flavor, slightly sweet and fresh for a lazy afternoon. And, if you are interested in proper hand-drip coffee, you will find a collection of beans from Ethiopia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
On the right side of the establishment there is an exclusive section for sportswear, ranging from sneakers, apparel and accessories. The center section is lifted, providing a stairway-like sitting area for customers as well.
If you love coffee and sports you will find some nice treats for yourself after a nice cup of Joe.
Address: 1/F, 168, Hubin Rd
Plants + Coffee
There are many florist-themed coffee shops scattered around the city but BOTANIC LAB is not one of them. It may not sell fresh flowers but it does sell dried ones, and you can find a wall decorated with well-arranged, packaged dried flowers at the back of the shop.
The faded colors of the flowers create a vintage atmosphere at the back of the store, where you can find a shelf full of scented treats, perfumes and fragrance diffusers.
The front open bar reveals the cafe’s selection of drinks, which serves coffee and spirit-infused drinks all day, unlike many other coffee shops.
There are not many choices on the menu but the barista/bartender will ask you for your preference and give suggestions or personalize one for you.
The coffee signature Starry Night features a lovely blue crystal topping made of slightly sweet jellies. The base is an espresso shot, using a traditional Italian-style espresso blend. It tastes like a traditional coffee you would get from a street shop in Milan.
If you don’t like your coffee to be too strong, just ask for a single shot in the drink.
The store opens till late so it’s a good place for an after-dinner drink.
Address: 134 Nanchang Rd
Shoes + Coffee
Double Win cafe is hidden inside 73 Hours, a shoe store which has a hairdresser inside the premises too. So, it’s literally a dressing up from head-to-toe for customers followed by a nice cup of coffee.
Located on the ground floor of Hong Kong Plaza, the coffee stand is embraced by dozens of pairs of “in-season” shoes. Feathers and vintage sofas are scattered around the joint, which makes it perfect for photographs, and the interior decor changes accordingly based on seasons and themes. A nice outdoor seating section is available, great to enjoy the summer breeze.
Double Win offers a wide range of coffees and signature drinks such as honeydew melon fermented rice coffee and lemongrass iced latte. Both are the store’s best-selling drinks. But you can still find traditional espresso-based coffees with milk produced from Double Win’s collaborated farm and oat milk, oatly.
Address: 283 Middle Huaihai Rd M.
Time: 7:30am-6pm (Monday to Friday), 8am-6pm (Saturday and Sunday)
Exhibition + Coffee
M50 Art District is well-known for arts and various exhibitions. It’s also a place where you can get a great cup of coffee. Located in the space formerly occupied by Undefined, Brownie Project is a place where you can have a coffee and a piece of brownie and see an exhibition at the same time. The new brand has gained instant fame online for its blue-themed VI system.
The coffee shop’s attractive doorway, which consists of a white wall with small letters spelling Brownie Project, plus a navy blue bench, is simple yet eye-catching and lures people to stop and pose for photos
The cafe area is on two floors, connected by a very interesting stairway made of a tree trunk. Yep, when you see it, you will say, “It’s a tree!”
The upper floor is the main seating area, while the downstairs features a coffee counter with a selection of branded products, such as bottled craft beer, baijiu and stationery like notebooks.
The Brownie Project has a variety of coffee grinders and brewers. The mechanic hand grinder and espresso machine are lovely.
Believe it or not, this is the first coffee shop I have discovered using a Gina brewing system. They also sell Gina in their iconic blue color.
Gina is an all-in-one coffee system that is known for its sleek and functional design. It features a built-in scale with Bluetooth connectivity for a mobile application for brewing profiles.
If you love hand-drip, don’t forget to ask to try the hand grinder yourself. It’s really fun. By the way, the barista brews delicious coffee.
Address: Room 105, Bldg 6, 50 Moganshan Rd