Aiming to serve coffee to a world that wishes to drink it, He Coffee is laying the foundations in Qinglong Hutong as the new need-to-be-seen-here location just east of the longstanding, but beginning to feel lackluster, Wudaoying area.

Designed as a long passage of wholly contained building cut into spacious, yet intimate, slabs, areas of seating near the floor-to-ceiling windows are separated by brown woven screens from other patrons who are nestled on comfy booths or wooden chairs. Chalk drawings decorate black boards with romantic notions of wine, coffee, and film screenings. Meeting room pods are next to the counter behind closed doors for those who want to settle in to a more business-like mode of lunch operations.

The menu is predominantly written in Chinese regarding food offerings, but their business brunch sets at RMB 25 offered on rotation throughout the week do beg for a bit of experimenting between the hours of 11am-1.30pm. Coffee is on the first page of their menu though; with an espresso setting you back RMB 21 for a single or RMB 28 for a double, which is reasonable. Their creamy Vietnam coffee (RMB 32) was served in a spiral stemmed martini glass with a three-layer construction of granulated sugar, espresso shot, and frothy sweet milk topping it off. While it didn’t hold the viscous density as other Vietnamese coffees in this city do, the caffeine kick was certainly present and hey, I kind of liked the swanky glassware it came in.

Perusing the area near the cashier I was surprised to see 500ml bottles of Belhaven, Greene King, and Strong Suffolk beers (RMB 50) lined up at the bottom of the cold cabinet. An after work visitation might have to happen to get in with one of these hard-to-find brews.

One shelving unit boasted high-tech commodities like Leap Motion and a box with a ubiquitous ‘Glass’ label that I thought was only available to Explorers within the mainland US (ascertaining whether it is a legit product is still up for debate), but the biggest surprise was in the final section of the building, where a nicely balanced sound system accompanied a large projector screen showing a film to a room full of twenty-something looking moviegoers, but the possibilities of using this space for multimedia presentations is definitely something to think about next time you wish to host a coffee and discussion event.

He Coffee
Daily 9am-9pm. 35 Qinglong Hutong, Dongcheng District (6401 1568)
700m east of Yonghegong (Line 2 and 5)

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Photos: Erin Strong

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