Article By Mike Leaner
Xiaozhai Harbor City Shop
Xingshansi east road 300m
(Opposite of Tianyou Hospital)
10:00am – 10:00pm
Southeast of Cuihua road and Xiaozhai east road intersection
(East of Shaanxi History Museum 100m)
10:00am – 10:00pm
Average Price per Person /人均消费: 20-30 RMB
PROS: Good coffee; good prices; good service
CONS: Not for the “sit down and spend my whole day at a café” types
Ithink the best way to describe getting coffee in this city is that it’s an ordeal. First you find some giant coffee shop, queue up, then lastly you pay more than you want to for brown water or, god forbid, a lukewarm latter. 35RMB later you’ve paid more for the just-okay ambiance than for your java. For a lot of laowai, this is one of the bummers of living here. We’re the type of people who, when we need coffee, need it fast and good and without any BS. If you’ve been praying for a hassle-free coffee experience, then great news: your prayers have been answered.
This kind of quality and service is exactly what you’ll be getting at Birdman Café, a small, local chain of coffee shops run jointly by a foreigner and a Chinese partner. I stopped by their Yanta location, which is just a counter that pops right out of its Xi’an-gray surroundings thanks to the colorful explosion of graffiti painted on the storefront. The menu is very simple—drinks only. Among that though, there is a healthy selection: several coffees, from Americano to Latte; some sweet fruit teas; and some other miscellaneous drinks (like a mojito). Those looking for recommendations from their menu would do well to try the banana latte, the rose ginger wolfberry tea or the mango lychee soda.
Admittedly, coffee-on-the-go isn’t everyone’s forte. If you’d like to stop and sip on your beverage, the Xiaozhai location has al fresco seating and the new Gaoxin store is more a proper café. No matter where you are, you’re still going to get the same smooth cup of coffee made with locally roasted beans.
There isn’t really much to say about Birdman. That may sound like being damned with faint praise, but honestly, aside from high-quality drinks at competitive prices, that minimalism is the strongest selling point. I’ve been around a while and I’m tired of all the sizzle without any steak, so to speak, and I’m damn sure tired of paying restaurants for their staggering overhead instead of quality. I just want the good stuff; like a wonderful latte that still had a leaf pattern in the foam even though it was doomed to spend its life under my to-go lid as I went for a beautiful daytime stroll at the Dayanta.
Mike Leaner likes to get dirty but not for free. He can be reached at email@example.com