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A great tea nation now slurping on coffee

Every day at 9:30am, Shanghainese woman Ling Aiwen, 35, opens the door of her cafe “100FFEE” on Yongjia Road in Xuhui District. The three-year-old coffee house also has a Chinese name “Baifei Daixing,” — a well-known phrase that translates roughly as “a thousand things wait to be done.”

The charm of coffee has entranced Shanghainese for more than a century and become a part of the city’s culture.

Records show the earliest import of coffee in Shanghai can be traced back to 1844. China now has its own famous coffee — from southwestern Yunnan Province.

The city’s first “coffee room” in 1860 was in Astor House, the renovated and rebranded Richard’s Hotel and Restaurant near the Bund.

The popularity of coffee can be found in Chinese literature and movies in 1920s and 1930s, which depicted the emergence of cafes as a trend. Drinking a cup of coffee then became a fashion of the Shanghainese and the smell of coffee accompanied many grandpas and grandmas in Shanghai during their childhood.

The latest report by local business media Yicai on coffee consumption shows that the city now has nearly 7,000 coffee shops, ranking it No. 1 in the world.

The two most popular streets are Huaihai Road M. and Nanjing Road W. with dozens of coffee shops.

Almost 56 percent of the cafes in Shanghai are boutique or independent, while 43 percent are chains. Ling’s 100FFEE is one of these independent cafes.

People come to a cafe not just for a drink, but enjoy a time with their friends and family.

“A cafe provides them a room of comfort,” Ling says.

This cafe has inside and outdoor space. White-collar workers do their work on laptops inside, while people walking their dogs sit in the yard.


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