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Shanghai quenches its thirst for coffee again

( China Daily )2022-06-16


A customer buys takeaway food and drink at the Buna & Pate coffee shop in Shanghai on June 8. GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY

For many in the metropolis, the beverage has become a way of life

When sales of fresh coffee resumed on June 2 at Buna & Pate, a coffee shop in Shanghai's Xuhui district, customers flocked to the business.

Several of them told the barista, "We don't mind what type of beans you use, just as long as we can drink a cup of fresh coffee again right here, right now."

Amid the aroma of fresh coffee beans, Xu Yihong, the shop's manager, said, "It means a lot to me that we are able to provide service to many regular customers and coffee lovers once again."

The independent business, which was launched in December, reopened when the city resumed most dine-in services on June 1, after being shut down for more than two months.

Su Xinyi, co-founder of specialty coffee shop Aloha on South Shaanxi Road, said numerous customers voiced relief at being able to drink on the premises again after the lockdown was lifted.

"Drinking coffee is a way of life in this city. Being able to enjoy a cup of fresh coffee gives people a sense of normalcy during these special times," Su said.

During the lockdown, coffee was in high demand in Shanghai, which is home to some 8,000 cafes.

A report by China Central Television's business channel said the city has the most coffee houses in the world.

On March 18, a coffee lover in Shanghai described on Sina Weibo how she heard a woman who had just been released from a temporary lockdown running into a store and yelling, "I need to buy coffee!"

The post, with the hashtag "Shanghai I need to buy coffee", quickly went viral, attracting comments from coffee lovers across the city.

Yeast, on Yanqing Road in Xuhui district, came to the rescue of numerous coffee aficionados in the city, as it was one of the few coffee shops open for delivery services during the lockdown.

The business reopened on April 9, just eight days after Puxi, an area of Shanghai on the west bank of the Huangpu River, was placed under close-loop management.

The small store needed to survive, as it faced a heavy burden from paying rent and employees' wages.

He Shanze, who owns the business, said: "I applied for the shop to reopen, as I wanted to survive financially. I didn't know how long the lockdown would last, but I knew that I simply couldn't stay home and wait."

As the business offers quick meals and snacks, including sandwiches, and could ensure a basic food supply, He's application was quickly approved by the subdistrict's food and drug supervision bureau.

She and her husband moved from home to live in the shop, starting an online business during the lockdown.

Taking their stocks of raw materials and manpower into account, the couple decided to sell only snacks and three types of coffee-latte, Americano and cold brew-at the usual price. They initially told neighbors and regular customers living nearby that the business was reopening.

Much to He's surprise, 157 online orders were received on the first day. Previously, the shop sold about 150 cups of coffee on weekdays and 200 cups during weekends.

A customer living about 10 kilometers from the business ordered 16 bottles of coffee one day last month, rewarding the deliveryman with a tip of more than 100 yuan ($15), in addition to paying the delivery fee.

"I felt so happy at the time," He said. "I didn't expect the demand for coffee to be so high and that people would be so supportive."

After the first group of customers posted information and photos of the coffee on WeChat, more residents learned that business had resumed at Yeast, including those living about 20 km from the shop.

"Since we reopened, more than 1,500 new customers have contacted me through WeChat, expressing their desire to drink coffee and also their support for my business, which cheered me up," He said.

She added that her husband was responsible for making the coffee, while she rode a motorcycle to deliver orders within 1 km of the business.



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