Sugarman Espresso 素饮·糖人

Article By Mike Leaner

1F, Mei Dao Cheng shopping center, No.60, Gaoxin Rd.
(029) 8928 8127
(029) 8928 8137
9:00am – 9:00pm (Sat / Sun)
7:30am – 9:00pm (Mon-Fri)

Average Price per Person /人均消费: 50RMB

PROS: Great coffee, good food, lots of passion for their craft
CONS: May be a bit tricky to find depending on where you’re coming from

“Ballsy.” That was the only thing my companion could think to say when we walked into Sugarman Espresso. What she was referring to was the fact that, very conspicuously nestled in Sugarman’s sprawling Gaoxin location, there is a Starbucks. While I agree that it’s ballsy to open your flagship store literally outside a Starbucks, I’m going to have to give Sugarman the edge here—if all goes well, they should be the one left standing when the Coffee Wars are over.

Sugarman, named for the titular jazz musician from Searching for Sugarman, first came to my attention through the long-defunct Community Flea Market. Even in its later days, the people from Sugarman would be there with liters of potent, delicious coffee. Now settled into their huge store just off Gaoxin Road, they’ve really upped their game and provide a unique coffee shop experience that’s definitely worth checking out.

Like a lot of the latest wave of coffee shops, the focus is on quality, both in process and ingredients. They roast their own beans, sell some snacks and café type food that would be great for lunch, you know the drill. What separates them then is what appears to be a more scientific approach to coffee—and I’m not just referring to the iPad-powered automatic coffee maker that they have in addition to all of their top-of-the-line brewing equipment. Tucked into the corner of Sugarman is what appears to be a coffee lab. Certificates and awards from brewing competitions line the wall while brew scientists work to make a better cup of coffee.

All that being said, what does this mean for you, the person who will go to Sugarman for a pick-me-up? Well, on the java side, you’re going to get a great cup of coffee, without a doubt. The menu is surprisingly large and diverse, with everything from Americano to something called “apple juice coffee,” and though all the drinks on offer may not be to your taste they’re all prepared with care and impeccable presentation. The food menu follows suit, but mostly sticks to lighter fare and is somewhat less surprising than the coffee.

Sugarman has already cemented itself as one of my favorite coffee shops in town. If you’re living, working or just in the Gaoxin area, it behooves you to stop by. While you’re there enjoying your drink, take a second to cackle at the Starbucks sitting forlornly next door, because Sugarman Espresso is so good it makes the pride of Seattle look like a pile of garbage.

Mike Leaner likes to get dirty but not for free. He can be reached at