Coffee culture festival kicks off in Changning

Yang Jian
City residents and tourists are being invited to take a coffee break at cafés and bookstores in the district in or near many of the city's renowned historical structures.
Yang Jian
Coffee culture festival kicks off in Changning
Yang Jian / SHINE

Customers drink coffee at an outdoor café in front of a historical building at Columbia Circle on Friday.

A coffee festival was launched in downtown Changning District, inviting city residents and tourists to cafés in or near many of Shanghai’s renowned historical structures.

The Changning Coffee Culture Festival began on Friday at Columbia Circle and will run to the end of May with activities along the over century-old Yuyuan Road and its nearby historical streets.

Shanghai is one of the cities with the world’s largest number of cafés. A total of 6,913 were operating across the city as of January last year. There’s an average of 2.85 cafés for every 10,000 people in Shanghai, the same density as in New York, London and Tokyo.

The city government initiated a coffee week last month to promote coffee culture.

For the event in Changning, the district government has released a map with 46 boutique cafés and arranged guided tours around them.

Coffee culture festival kicks off in Changning
Yang Jian / SHINE

A coffee bazaar at Columbia Circle.

The Akimbo Café Lab on Yuyuan Road is in the 91-year-old house where writer, translator and scholar Shi Zhecun (1905-2003) lived upstairs. It combines a gift shop with innovative and cultural products, an art gallery and the café.

The nearby Gaman Café is inside the former residence of Chen Guangpu (1881-1976), founder of the city’s first private bank. 

The Seesaw Coffee in Columbia Circle features regular community events such as lectures from vinyl record collectors, dramas and handicraft workshops.

“I was told by grandparents that Shanghai was filled with cafés with fashionable decorations and jazz music in the 1920s," said Xu Yingting, boss of the Before Sunset Coffee on Wuyi Road. “I’d like to restore the vintage style of traditional local cafés.”

A number of cultural activities will be held during the two-month festival at popular landmarks such as Columbia Circle, once a popular country club for Americans between 1927 and 1942 and former site of the Shanghai Institute of Biological Products, once the city’s major vaccine production base.

Coffee culture festival kicks off in Changning
Yang Jian / SHINE

Customers have a coffee break beside the swimming pool at Columbia Circle on Friday.

The city’s first coffee and drama festival will be held at the compound during the Labor Day holiday between May 1 and 5 when 25 coffee-related dramas will be staged.

The Story Shop on Yuyuan Road, inspired by the Japanese novel "Miracles of the Namiya General Store," will launch a coffee recycling project. Customers can exchange coffee cups from nearby cafés with coffee grounds, which can be used as fertilizer, air purifier and skincare products. The paper cups will become an art installation and exhibited in the shop.

Many cafés and bookstores in Changning will also host reading clubs to promote coffee culture.

“Coffee shops are always related to innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Xu Jinjiang, director of the literature institute of Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

“The thriving coffee culture in Changning is expected to boost the district’s culture and innovation as well as entrepreneurship sectors,” Xu said.

Coffee culture festival kicks off in Changning
Yang Jian / SHINE

Customers can taste various kinds of coffee during the two-month festival.

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