Shanghai Jing'an World Coffee Culture Festival is back
The annual Shanghai Jing'an World Coffee Culture Festival, after a one year pause, has come back to the outdoor square of the HKRI Taikoo Hui shopping mall.
This year's festival features 32 coffee shops, from Shanghai-based Manner to Sydney-based e.R Coffee Roasters, from local boutique MQ Coffee to global chain Starbucks. Thousands, if not tens of thousands, of coffee lovers have been making determined pilgrimages, tasting special brews and creating their own blends.
This year, the district's culture and tourism bureau released a map with 100 coffee shops in a myriad of types, such as Italy's venerable brand Lavazza, wanghong (Internet celebrity) store Paras and "red"-themed The People opened at the Sihang Warehouse Battle Memorial.
During the festival, 10,000 maps featuring coupons of listed coffee shops were sent, enabling people to taste distinctive coffee in different shops. A wide range of coffee-related activities were also held across the district, such as a coffee fair on Jiuguang mall and a pop-up free coffee tasting event at Jing'an Kerry Center.
It's quite the epitome of the city's bustling and vibrant coffee scene.
A recent CBN data report notes that China's coffee consumption has witnessed a year-on-year increase of 30 percent. First-tier cities consume 326 cups of coffee on average per capita per year, with Shanghai leading the field by miles.
According to local business media Yicai, Shanghai has had 6,913 coffee shops as of January, ranking it the No. 1 in the world. There's an average of 2.85 coffee shops for every 10,000 people in Shanghai, the same density as in New York, London and Tokyo.
Across Shanghai, Nanjing Road W. has the highest density of coffee shops, where one can find 58 coffee shops within 1 square kilometer, according to China's major food takeaway site Meituan.
"Coffee is a lifestyle and a way of social intercourse," said Hua Xiangyi, deputy director of Jing'an District Culture and Tourism Bureau.
"These coffee shops, or new business models, are drawn by Jing'an's humanistic spirit," he said. "Next year, we plan to integrate the coffee festival with other major events such as Modern Drama Valley and JZ Jazz Festival. Such integration will generate something catering to the market."
Over the past six years, Manner has grown from a 2-square-meter store on Jing'an District's Nanyang Road to a popular chain. Shanghai's coffee culture feeds its development, according to brand manager Ning Yihan.
"In Shanghai, there are so many good and distinctive coffee shops," he said. "It creates a very competitive market, but also improves the overall level of coffee shops."
You Rong Nai Da, which operates coffee shops in different names, started from a store in the century-old Zhangyuan, a major shikumen (stone-gate) neighborhood that is under a large-scale renovation.
"It's good that coffee is widely accepted in Shanghai," said Haze from the shop. "It means that not only big names in the industry but also new comers and small players can find their place in the market. Local government also shows strong support."
Here are some of the distinctive coffee shops in Jing'an:
It's a "red"-themed coffee shop established in the Sihang Warehouse Battle Memorial.
The memorial itself has become a hotspot after the release of the Chinese war epic "The Eight Hundred" which profiles the Battle of Shanghai in 1937, known for the fierce four-day fighting between Chinese and Japanese troops at the Sihang Warehouse along the Suzhou Creek.
Today, the memorial still shows eight bomb scars and more than 400 bullet holes on the west wall. Harrowing scenes of "stout resistance" and "raging flames" are reenacted to create immersive experiences for visitors.
To echo with the history, The People is decorated with a nostalgic ambience, with arresting features of "red star" ornaments and a retro motorcycle, teapot and other objects.
Piles of old black-and-white TVs are playing classic "red" films.
While the use of bright colors such as red and green, as well as mirrors in geometric designs remind people of Shanghai of the 1920-30s.
The "Made-in-China" latte is highly recommended as it uses milk from Shandong Province and coffee beans from Yunnan Province, which represent a very soft taste.
Notably, the cup sleeves are made of temperature-sensitive materials. The black cup sleeves will gradually appear to have patterns of bullets on the wall when they are used in hot cups, exactly the same as those on the memorial.
This small coffee shop stands inconspicuously just opposite the Shanghai Natural History Museum. But inside, it's another world.
Hailed as a mini coffee museum, the coffee shop displays nearly 150 coffee appliances, from coffee filter holders made before the 1930s to portable plastic coffee cups made in the 1960s, from spring-pressed coffee machine made in the 1950s to steam-powered coffee machine made in the 1960s.
Small as it is, it explains the history of coffee.
According to the shop owner, called Shuge, these are just the tip of the iceberg of his collection.
He and his wife often went to coffee shops when they studied in the university in Beijing, which planted the idea of opening a coffee shop in their minds. Shuge said he's most impressed by coffee shop's free ambience.
Now, at his coffee shop, there are two stereos made in the 1960s to play vinyl records. Customers can enjoy their personalized coffee based on their taste when enjoying music.
Nana Coffee opened near a wet market on Laohutai Road, unlike many others who open in stylish or bustling downtown streets. The coffee shop owner Nana said there is no special reason, just because of the low rent.
Tucked away in vegetable and meat stalls, the coffee shop, however, still became popular.
Nana, herself, is responsible for the decoration. Retro objects and posters create a nostalgic vibe. There is no menu. Just order what Nana recommends or tell Nana what you want.