[Video] China's brewing coffee culture

From diverse specialty blends to a new university programme in Coffee Science and burgeoning cafe scenes across the country, coffee has evolved from an exotic import to an integral part of China's food and beverage culture. With a penchant for ambience and novelty, coffee aficionados in China are reshaping the nation's coffee scene.
Pork-flavoured coffee released by Starbucks for Chinese New Year, 2024. (Screen grab from China News Service)
Pork-flavoured coffee released by Starbucks for Chinese New Year, 2024. (Screen grab from China News Service)

What initially began as a trendy pursuit for urban youths has now evolved into a daily ritual for many, accentuated by the presence of baristas from all walks of life. Even in the counties, franchises and local cafes are rapidly popping up. Notably, Yunnan Agricultural University announced that they would be launching the country's first, and possibly the world's first, degree programme in Coffee Science and Engineering starting September 2024. Automated machines and robotic baristas are also joining the brew crew, further modernising the coffee experience. However, perhaps the most intriguing trend is the continuous innovation of quirky concoctions, ranging from pork-flavoured latte to Moutai-infused brews. 

A World Coffee Portal report last year showed that China, with 49,691 coffee outlets, has the highest number of branded coffee shops worldwide. Eighty-nine percent of consumers surveyed in the report visit or order from a coffee shop at least once a week, with a fifth doing so daily. Shanghai, with over 8,500 coffee shops, also holds the title for the city with the most coffee shops in the world, according to the 2023 China Urban Coffee Development Report.


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