Exploring China’s Growing Coffee Culture: Top Coffee Brands to Try

Exploring China's Growing Coffee Culture: Top Coffee Brands to Try

China may be famous for its tea culture, but there is a growing trend that has been steadily brewing in the country – coffee. As more and more Chinese people embrace the modern lifestyle and seek new experiences, coffee has become increasingly popular. With a population of over 1.4 billion people, it is no wonder that China is now one of the world’s largest coffee consumers. The coffee industry in China, once dominated by international giants like Starbucks, has now given rise to a thriving local coffee scene, with a multitude of local coffee brands sprouting up across the country. In this article, we will explore China’s growing coffee culture and introduce you to some of the top coffee brands to try in China.

Starbucks: The Pioneer of Coffee Culture

When it comes to coffee, one cannot overlook the role Starbucks has played in introducing and popularizing the beverage in China. With its distinctive green mermaid logo now omnipresent in major Chinese cities, Starbucks has become synonymous with coffee for many Chinese consumers. The first Starbucks store opened its doors in Beijing in 1999, and since then, the chain has expanded rapidly throughout the country. Starbucks offers a wide range of coffee options, from classic espresso-based drinks like cappuccinos and lattes to trendy seasonal creations. With cozy interiors and a relaxed atmosphere, Starbucks has become a popular meeting spot for friends and colleagues alike, offering a pleasant escape from the hustle and bustle of Chinese city life.

Costa Coffee: A British Delight

Founded in London in 1971, Costa Coffee made its way to China in 2006 and has since gained a loyal following. As the second-largest coffee chain in the world, Costa Coffee has an extensive menu of both hot and cold beverages to suit different tastes and preferences. Whether you are in the mood for a refreshing iced coffee or a comforting flat white, Costa Coffee has got you covered. The chain’s cozy ambiance and welcoming staff make it an inviting place to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee. With branches in major cities across China, including Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou, Costa Coffee is a must-visit for coffee lovers in China.

Coffee Box: A Chinese Coffee Chain with a Twist

While international chains dominate the coffee market in China, there are also local players making waves. One such brand is Coffee Box, a homegrown coffee chain that has been gaining popularity with its unique concept. Coffee Box takes a different approach by combining the traditional Chinese tea culture with coffee. The result is a fusion of flavors and a truly distinctive coffee experience. The chain’s signature offerings include drinks like jasmine tea latte and matcha coffee, which showcase the harmony between traditional Chinese tea and coffee. With its emphasis on quality and innovation, Coffee Box is carving out its own space in the Chinese coffee market.

Luckin Coffee: The Disruptor

If there is one local coffee brand that has taken the Chinese market by storm in recent years, it is Luckin Coffee. Founded in Beijing in 2017, Luckin Coffee quickly made headlines for its rapid expansion and competitive pricing. The chain positioned itself as a fierce competitor to Starbucks, focusing on offering affordable yet high-quality coffee. Luckin Coffee gained popularity among price-conscious Chinese consumers, particularly the younger generation who were attracted by its convenience and affordability. With its unique business model that prioritizes delivery and takeaway orders, Luckin Coffee became a symbol of the changing coffee landscape in China. Despite facing challenges, such as a financial scandal in 2019, Luckin Coffee remains a major player in the Chinese coffee market.

Reads Cafe: A Coffee Haven for Bookworms

If you are a book lover who also happens to be a coffee enthusiast, Reads Cafe is the perfect place for you. With its cozy and tranquil ambiance, this coffee chain offers a unique experience for those seeking a peaceful retreat from the bustling city. What sets Reads Cafe apart is its extensive collection of books available for customers to read while enjoying their coffee. From classic literature to contemporary bestsellers, there is something for every bookworm’s taste. Whether you want to dive into a thrilling mystery novel or lose yourself in an inspiring self-help book, Reads Cafe provides the ideal environment to indulge in both literature and coffee.

Manner Coffee: A Minimalist Delight

If you appreciate the beauty of simplicity, Manner Coffee is the perfect place for you. This minimalist coffee chain focuses on the art of simplicity in both its coffee offerings and store design. Manner Coffee’s menu is intentionally concise, featuring a limited selection of carefully curated coffees. Each drink is crafted with precision, allowing the natural flavors of the beans to shine through. The stores themselves are designed with clean lines and a muted color palette, creating a calm and inviting atmosphere. Manner Coffee is the ideal destination for those who value a minimalist aesthetic and the pursuit of a perfectly brewed cup of coffee.

Seesaw Coffee: Where Art Meets Coffee

If you are a coffee connoisseur with an appreciation for aesthetics, Seesaw Coffee is a must-visit in China. This specialty coffee brand not only focuses on delivering exceptional coffee but also places great emphasis on the visual aspect of the coffee experience. From the carefully designed latte art on their flat whites to the creative presentation of their seasonal coffee specials, Seesaw Coffee takes coffee brewing to the level of artistry. Every cup of coffee at Seesaw is a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. With its stylish and contemporary stores, Seesaw Coffee provides a refined and elegant coffee experience for those who seek both flavor and beauty.

Ocean Grounds: A Beach-Inspired Escape

While coffee and beaches may not be an obvious combination, Ocean Grounds successfully merges the two with its beach-inspired coffee shops. With its laid-back atmosphere and nautical-themed decor, stepping into an Ocean Grounds store feels like taking a mini vacation. The chain prides itself on serving specialty coffee made from high-quality beans sourced from around the world. From a creamy flat white to a refreshing cold brew, every sip at Ocean Grounds is a delightful escape to a tropical paradise. Whether you are a beach lover or simply want to experience a different coffee setting, Ocean Grounds offers a unique and enjoyable coffee experience.

Peet’s Coffee: Bringing America’s Coffee Culture to China

Founded in Berkeley, California, in 1966, Peet’s Coffee has become a beloved brand in the United States, and it has now expanded to bring its coffee culture to China. Peet’s Coffee prides itself on its commitment to sourcing and roasting the finest beans, ensuring that every cup of coffee is of exceptional quality. With its emphasis on artisanal craftsmanship and meticulous brewing techniques, Peet’s Coffee offers a taste of authentic American coffee culture in China. From rich and bold flavors to delicate and nuanced notes, Peet’s Coffee caters to a range of coffee preferences. With its warm and inviting stores, Peet’s Coffee provides a cozy haven for coffee enthusiasts in China.

% Arabica: A Japanese Import

Originally from Kyoto, Japan, % Arabica has found its way to China, capturing the hearts of coffee lovers with its dedication to perfection and simplicity. % Arabica’s clean and minimalist aesthetic extends to its coffee, with an emphasis on highlighting the natural flavors of the beans. The chain takes pride in its commitment to sourcing beans from around the world, ensuring that only the highest quality coffee is served. With its sleek and modern stores, % Arabica provides a serene and stylish environment for coffee aficionados to savor a cup of carefully crafted coffee. Whether you prefer a classic espresso or a specialty pour-over, % Arabica offers a coffee experience that is both refined and uncompromising.


As China’s coffee culture continues to evolve and mature, a diverse range of coffee brands have emerged, offering unique experiences for coffee lovers. From international chains like Starbucks and Costa Coffee to local favorites like Coffee Box and Luckin Coffee, there is no shortage of options to satisfy your caffeine cravings in China. Whether you are in search of a cozy and familiar atmosphere, a fusion of traditional Chinese flavors with your coffee, or an immersive coffee and book experience, China’s coffee scene has something for everyone. So why not grab a cup of your favorite brew and dive into China’s vibrant coffee culture?

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