Rapidly growing Longhua District might not be seen as a destination for food but if you look hard enough you can find hidden gems like Old Man Cafe. This local coffeehouse burst onto the scene with the goal of “disrupting traditional neighborhood stores found on the ground level of apartment complexes” – precisely where Old Man is located.
With grand aspirations in mind, Old Man Cafe wows with strong, unified branding. From the orange decor with matching coffee mugs and staff uniforms, to celebrations of masculinity through pop culture icons, Old Man Cafe wants you to feel part of something greater than your run-of-the-mill coffee shop.
For those overwhelmed by choice, the English-Chinese menu is wisely kept to a minimum, while still including your favorite coffees and teas. For something different, the Salted Toffee Coffee (RMB28) was exactly as written – a salty, sticky, caffeine-filled treat.
But it was the French Fries with Plum Powder (RMB15) that surprised the most on a menu of standard, deep-fried finger food. Where salt is to be expected, the sweeter substitute of the plum powder worked strangely well as a garnish.
While outside signage advertises that they also serve liquor, it’s currently off the menu for unspecified reasons. The wait staff reported that it may or may not come back as they cheekily mixed us a Blue Hawaiian (RMB50) without going easy on the booze.
With plans for other Old Man shops to join “an ecosystem that services the entire community,” the cafe iteration is part of the early days of something greater. But it might be very early days as they still have an unstocked salad section and an important decision to make regarding alcohol. Happily a warm staff, a manly aesthetic and a vision for the future let Old Man Cafe provide a welcome refuge for both old and young alike.
Who’s going: pop-culture junkies, art students, open-minded Longhua residents
Good for: quiet place for working, late night coffee
Nearest metro: Shangtang, Line 4 (Exit B), eight minute walk
Open daily, Mon-Fri 10am-10pm, Sat-Sun 2pm-10pm. See listing for Old Man Cafe.