Beijing does a lot of things very well: dumplings, hot pot, craft beer. But in the past few years, the capital has shown that it also knowns a thing or two about coffee. Luckily for the coffee-obsessed writers here at That's Beijing, more and more excellent cafes are brewing up quality cups of third-wave coffee.
In a sea of Starbucks and Paris Baguettes, Soloist Coffee is a tried-and-true standby for the more indie-minded, caffeine-addled literary nerds. Branching out from its original 798 location, the venture’s second outpost can be found in the rapidly gentrifying hutongs of Dashilar. And its brand new third branch is located smack in the middle of Taikoo Li. All three serve up foamy cappuccinos, robust slow-drips, bold espressos and light bites.
Next to its more boisterous neighbors on Jiaodaokou Bei Santiao (ahem, Tiki Bungalow and Knights and Merchants), it’s easy to miss Fangye Café. The small but airy cafe serves single-origin coffee, hot chocolate, tea and milkshakes. Coffee prices range from RMB22 Americanos to RMB40-50 for imported coffee. With its hip interior design and environmentally-friendly (and wallet-friendly) ‘RMB5 off if you BYO cup’ deal, it’s worth checking out if you’re in the area and need a quick fix.
See a listing for Fangye Café.
BigSmall has some serious coffee that will satisfy even the pickiest of third-wave coffee connoisseurs. They also serve some killer pour-overs, Americanos and lattes. And a word to the wise: Cold brews should not be tainted with milk or sugar.
See a listing for Bigsmall Coffee.
New Zealand cafes are famous for popularizing the flat white, which is espresso and milk. Sound like a latte? It’s not – in fact, it’s both smaller and stronger, so it packs a more powerful punch. The drink grew in popularity in Wellington cafes before making it big around the world, including Beijing. The long black – another drink popular in New Zealand that non-Antipodeans may not recognize – is a double espresso and hot water. You’d be forgiven for confusing that with an Americano, but the difference is that the hot water comes separately, in a glass to the side. Cafe Flatwhite captures the essence of New Zealand cafe culture.
See a listing here and read our full review here.
With beans sourced from Brazil, Costa Rica, Indonesia and Yunnan, Analog is a damn good place to spend an afternoon sampling different brews. The cafe’s industrial design mixed with plush Pink Panther toys is alt-cool, and while the menu is almost strictly coffee, its simple offerings make it a refreshing escape from the shit-show that is Nanluoguxiang.
See a listing for Analog.
To get to Berry Beans, you must first take flights of escalators through Sanlitun's depressing 3.3 Mall. Then you need to enter a hipster barber shop. And then you have to try your best not to spend 5,000 kuai on rad clothing at Mega Vintage. But after all that, you arrive at third-wave coffee spot Berry Beans. Baristas here take their brewing seriously. When we order an iced coffee, they spend a solid five minutes crafting it. Single-origin beans are for sale, obvs. There's also a counter full of beautiful desserts. True to a cafe next to Mega Vintage, decor is, well, vintage. We dig it. Overall, the coffee is killer and the hidden location is actually pretty cool.
We all know that Rager Pie makes some damn good pies. But they also have some superb coffee. Rager Pie’s coffee selection varies depending on which beans are in season and available for import. When we visit, this includes Kenya Kirinyaga single-origin light roast espresso followed by an Indonesian Mandheling Blue Batak dark roast. If brewing jargon (and high prices) puts you off of artisan coffee, then Rager is a good option. The baristas are meticulous (beans are weighed on scales, water temperatures are checked), but Rager doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Read more Beijing Food & Drink Guides