Starbucks still reigns supreme in China, but there are no Starbuckses in the city one could consider to have a true coffee shop vibe. More often than not, they’re bustling, “get in, get out” kinds of places stuck into shopping malls, with noisy atmosphere and nowhere to sit and relax depending on the time of day you go. This is in stark contrast to what a lot of foreigners are used to in their cafés back home—which, sometimes, are functionally indistinct from libraries that serve coffee. If you’re looking to recapture that little bit of coffee shop peace and quiet, whether that be to visit with friends or get some work done or just sit and mess with your phone and have no one bother you, these small boutique cafés should do the trick.

01 THIS IS LIJIANG 那是丽江咖啡生活馆

Not to be confused with its sister bar down the road, this café next to Heping Gate drips with hippy-dippy Yunnan charm. Take a seat inside to enjoy a controlled climate or have a seat at one of the booths outside on a nicer day; either way you’ll have your pick of a fine coffee or Chinese tea to enjoy along with the peace and quiet.

Address: No.2 Compound, Xia Ma Ling, Shun Cheng Lane,
Beilin District.
顺城巷内 下马陵2号院
Phone: (029) 8751 5185
Hours: 1:00pm-11:00pm


Not sure what tiny goats have to do with coffee, but Goatling Coffee, just outside South Gate, will whip you up a fine latte that you can sip on as you sit in their shiny clean café watching the people go by.

Address: No.19, Tiyuguan Dong Lu, Beilin District.
Phone: 152-2937-5822 182-9181-1561
Hours: 10:00am-10:00pm

03 ROBIN CAFÉ 知一咖啡馆

Though it’s based on the SIT model, which is decidedly not the kind of café we’re talking about here, Robin has separated their good ideas from the bad and created a nice, higher-end coffee shop experience with some nice light food to accompany their smooth java.

Address: Qujiang Creative Circle, Yanxiang Road,
Qujiang District.
雁翔路3369号 曲江万科创意谷南街一层
Phone: (029) 8121 2282
Hours: 9:00am-10:00pm


Newer on the scene, Beifang Coffee takes the tiny crown for tiny cafés, as you won’t get much tinier than this. Tucked away in a back alley, Beifang offers a cute, hip little place for you to enjoy some peace while you stare in awe at the beautiful foam art in your beautiful cup of coffee.

Address: No.32 Huo Yao Ju Lane, Inside Han Guang Gate, Lianhu District.
Phone: 136-3021-9716
Hours: 11:00am-10:00pm

05 DirtyMind Coffee

There’s something charming about a counter, and if you don’t agree you may have a tough time with Dirty Mind, which means that you’ll miss out on a damn fine coffee. The location across from Kaide Mall on the Second Ring is literally a counter culture—one you’ll sit at as you watch your beverage be meticulously prepared. You probably won’t be so meticulous about drinking it though—it’s too tasty for that.

Address: No.25 West of South 2rd Ring Road
南二环西段25号 西旅家属院南门
Phone: 173-9246-7679
Hours: 10:30am-8:00pm

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