Article By Mike Leaner
No.32, Huo Yao Ju Xiang, Inside Han Guang Gate.
Noon – 10:30pm
Average Price per Person /人均消费: 28RMB
PROS: Great coffee, affordable prices, good service
CONS: Tricky location, Chinese-only menu
Good cups of coffee aren’t as hard to find as they used to be. A recent obsession with coffee has provided Xi’an’s residents with a glut of cafés, both big and small. But though we may be spoiled for choice, great cups of coffee are still fewer and further between. Beifang Coffee, however, can count themselves amongst those who can claim their coffee is great.
Located in a small alley near the southwest corner of the city walls (inside the walls, not outside), Beifang Coffee may not be the easiest place to find, but rewards seekers with a damn fine cup of joe. It shares its stretch of road with a police station and a youth hostel, so if you find those you’re at least on the right track. Once you’ve got your bearings a little bit, look for a splashy, colorful mural, ignore the almost identical storefront of “Omniscient Pub” and look for a discrete sign that says 北方小咖啡馆. And you’re there.
Inside is just as modest and subtly stylish as the outside—just a handful of tables line the walls of this teeny tiny shop, but they make for a comfortable place to sit and wait, taking in the eclectic decoration as your coffee is lovingly prepared. A better latte I’ve yet to have in Xi’an, as Beifang’s may take a hot minute or two to arrive at the table, but it comes piping hot and smooth as silk, brewing out any off, bitter notes that might come from the coffee. During my visit it came with a flaky egg cake, courtesy of the barista (presumably the owner as well, unconfirmed).
While a bigger, more full-on coffee shop may be more to the taste of some, I have a deep appreciation for little hidden gems like Beifang. No one to bother you, no unwieldy menus, just a simple handwritten card that lists a few expertly brewed coffees and teas. Although, as a side note, that menu is only in Chinese, which isn’t a problem for me but the staff is very helpful and will try to recommend things for you if you can’t read. It’s a coveted bit of peace and quiet in increasingly noisy and bustling Xi’an. No frills, no BS, and it’s more affordable than a trip to Starbucks. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
Mike Leaner likes to get dirty but not for free. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org