Coffee is just starting to be popular amongst Chinese people, having developed a long history and a preference for tea. Polly would give us tea pretty much everyday: after all, it’s just boiling water that you pour into a teapot containing leaves. Nothing very complicated.
Starbucks is the great American coffee master in Shanghai, Costa Coffee probably being its most ferocious competitor, from England. Another café, 85°C Café, comes from Taiwan and is also very popular, known especially for its pastries.
Coffee and I have a long love-hate relationship. I easily abuse of it – during exams, by example – to reject it almost immediately, to finally come back to it a few months later. I like it dark, sweet, coarse, but I don’t say no to medium roast. I’m telling you this because my preferences will cause me many problems with Chinese coffee.
My review on their coffee is… pretty negative: the drink had a very odd greasy taste. I found a similar one at the train station and I didn’t dare to finish it: I thought they poured the whole bottle of cream in my cup. And still, I’m not so sure it was cream, because the greasy taste in my mouth was just way too heavy.
However, Alex says he liked it. He describes it as “creamy, fat, nice.” It must be relative to everyone.
Let’s talk about the pastries. Chinese people (and Asian people in general) do not have a long pastry history, unlike French or Austrian people. So they adapted foreign products with their own methods… And the result is sometimes quite questionable. By example, I didn’t hate these little bread filled with sausages shown on the following picture.
However, I didn’t like them either… Bread is lighter than baguette and usual supermarket bread, not heavy enough and has a very odd sweet taste that doesn’t blend well with garlic sausage. Unfortunately, all the salted pastries we tried ended up to the same conclusion: a deep feeling of uncertainty and awkwardness.
I tried their coffee only once and even if it’s cheap and they didn’t add this weird cream stuff, I didn’t want to try again the burnt coffee.
Now, let’s talk about the real stuff: Starbucks and Costa Coffee are the only places where you can actually find good coffee, but you have to be ready to pay the price. Other coffees usually cost me up to 8 RMB, it is hard to take 20 RMB from your coin purse to pay for a double espresso at Starbucks or Costa Coffee. The espresso tasted the same as in Canada from both sides.
However, when Alexandre decided to try their frappucinos, the conclusion wasn’t the same from both coffee shops. The price is the same, but the taste is quite different. Since Alex was used to the sweet Frappuccino from Starbucks, when he tried the one from Costa Coffee, he was surprised to end with a bitter coffee with no sugar. I’m sorry, but when I buy a frappé at a coffee shop, I actually expect something that reminds me of a coffee ice cream. You should have seen the amount of sugar sachets he had to add to his drink.
If you can’t get rid of your daily caffeine dose, be aware that you will pay the same amount as in Canada or in the US. It’s pretty sad, knowing how many dumplings you can buy for the same amount of money for a small Frappuccino.
PS: you can buy 20 dumplings for the same price, by the way.