Haikou Coffee Talks: More Pros than Cons at Milli Coffee Guomao

By Marian Rosenberg, November 20, 2021

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For the fourth in our weekly series of the best places in Haikou for a foreigner to get a cup of coffee, we are continuing with Milli Coffee's second of what had been three locations prior to the pandemic.

In February 2010, just over a year after the first Milli Coffee opened in Xiuying, a substantially larger one was opened in Haikou's Guomao across the street from what was then the second of the city's two Carrefours.

Located on the outside edge of a housing development as opposed to a purpose built commercial space, Milli Coffee Guomao (米粒咖啡 国贸店) was originally a converted first-floor, single apartment.

Somewhere around 2014 or so, it expanded into the neighboring apartment as well. This private space made public has resulted in a warren of small interconnected rooms which—along with the mix of natural wood, real and faux brick, dim lighting, and terracotta floor tiles that comprise the décor—conspire to make Milli Guomao feel a lot cozier than just about any other public space in Haikou.

In addition to five separate rooms and a properly utilized front deck, the clever use of bookshelves and other partial barriers provides a nice sense of privacy between the various groups of tables and chairs.

Desperately in need of a fresh coat of paint and staff who want to enforce Haikou’s indoor smoking ban, this shop’s main advantages are location and hours of operation.

The years since they have opened have seen both the drink and food menus expand and contract so many times that I honestly have no idea what they have. I always order the same double shot cappuccino or—when I feel like I've been using their sofas for far too long but am not yet ready for more caffeine—a hot pomelo tea.

As one of the only non-Starbucks places where you are able to get an espresso based drink before noon, the biggest complaint one has about Milli Guomao is that it's grubby.

This is particularly noticeable in the bathrooms where the rather unwise choice of unsealed slate tile has absorbed 10 years of poor aim in a way that neither cleaning chemicals nor the constantly burning incense coil even start to successfully cover up. I've been in many far worse looking bathrooms that smelled nowhere near so bad.

With overstuffed sofas, power outlets near most tables, a relatively quiet clientele, decent wifi, and a willingness to ignore the outside snacks you brought in with you, the positives substantially outweigh the negatives and this remains the coffee shop I'm most likely to end up at least once every week when in Haikou.

As with their sister location in Xiuying, most of the drinks on the menu will cost you around RMB 30 apiece.
Milli Coffee Guomao (米粒咖啡 国贸店)
Daily, 9.30am-Midnight. Haikou Longhua District Jinlong Road Jinrui Building 1st Floor. See listing.

READ MORE: Haikou Coffee Talks: Earliest Espresso with Milli Coffee Xiuying

A translator living in Hainan for 17 of her 19 years in China, Marian Rosenberg is best known for her annual cycling trips through rural China. These trips not only have her blogging on Cycleblaze (username: brucianna) and helping people out on the Travel in China During Covid groups (Cyclist Translator), they've also landed her in the Washington Post's travel section and are the reason she has more than 40,000 followers on Douyin (我是凡一).

[Images by Marian Rosenberg for That’s]

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