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Shenzhen Café

 2017-08-09    ThomasIronmonk    Food    Shenzhen    4392  

Café culture is, of course, a Western import. But the Chinese have taken to the idea with abandon over the last decade or so. Nowadays cafes with Chinese characteristics can be found nationwide and nowhere more so than Shenzhen. Typically cafés in Shenzhen are where East meets West, usually in the form of a coffee shop cum teahouse. Sometimes the décor leans to Europe, at times it's definably more Chinese, but you can invariably order an oolong tea or a cuppa Joe.

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Cafés in Shenzhen are also defined by a district with chilled haunts in artsy areas like Wutong Mountain and the OCT Loft, expat friendly coffeehouses in Shekou, and fast-paced, bustling brassieres for white-collar workers in the CBD. So if you’re in town in need of a caffeine hit, some free Wi-Fi or just somewhere cool to hang out, take note of the following selection:

Wutong Backyard

Up in the artist village on Wutong Mountain this delightful two-storied coffee shop is well worth seeking out before or after a hike. Furniture is woody, matching the forested surroundings, with some retro trimmings to add to the ambiance. There’s also some art on the walls, a reflection of the creative climate on the hillside. As well as wine, beers, and cakes there’s a fine selection of coffees and teas. For our money, the Pu'er tea (RMB25) wrapped in a bamboo skin is a uniquely fine brew, refreshing and invigorating. Occasionally the café hosts film nights upstairs. Ask for details within.

Weiyang Coffee House

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Another popular Wutong Mountain café is Weiyang in Kengbei Village located on the main thoroughfare towards Wutong Mountain’s principle hiking paths. This place does a muddled job blending East and West with classical Chinese drums and tea sets paired against antique European furnishings. It’s a melange, which goes for the food as well with items like Fruit Pizza (RMB68–78) and Passion Fruit Tea (RMB28–52) unlikely to be seen on a Western menu. The coffee, however, comfortably makes the grade with simple Americano (RMB23) a fine brew of freshly roasted arabica beans. Add to this an airy interior as well as a great people watching location with large windows facing the street, and you have a more than worthwhile cafeteria to while away a hot summers afternoon.

Old Heaven Books

This is arguably the city’s finest café. In fact, it’s more than that as it combines the delights of a bookstore, record shop, live house & bar all under one roof. But principally if you need some caffeine and a chilled environment to nose through a book look no further than the OCT Loft. Here Old Heaven and its devotees – bookworms and cultural vultures from all quarters of the new city convene to talk art over a refreshing brew. House coffee is a very reasonable RMB25 while black tea is RMB20 for a cup / RMB60 for a pot. There are also pastries on sale and a strong selection of alcoholic beverages. But it’s the cool ambiance and artist owners, which really sets the place apart.

My Coffee

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My Coffee is part of a chain of shops including My Noodle, My Gym, My Florists, My Hair, My Hotel and so on. This might be tedious branding but this trendy café has an unrivalled location in the heart of the OCT Loft. A modern interior combines with such novelties as hookah pipes, an in-house bakery and a walk-in coffee station. Coffee will set you back a mean RMB40, food leans to the Western snack variety with Nachos and Salsa for RMB35, but it's really just about being somewhere trendy, and hanging out with the movers and shakers of Nanshan.

C’est La Vie

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Shopping in Shenzhen’s old heart – namely Dongmen – can be thirsty work indeed. Shops are piled high with made-in-China textiles of every, quality, and kind imaginable. But in the height of summer unrivaled, you'd be wise to stop for some refreshments. And if so C’est La Vie, located near Lao Jie metro station Exit A, is the place to go. This hole-in-the-wall joint serves fresh juice for RMB16, signature iced coffee for RMB18 as well as a host of Taiwanese and Hong Kong-style soft drinks and teas. Additionally, it shares its space with Jia Le Yuan, an inexpensive canteen, should you need to settle down for some lunch as well.

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