Small over big, when it comes to cafe’

Italian cafés have been attracting more and more people in China. Compared with Starbucks, a cup of illy or Lavazza may be too small to spend the whole afternoon drinking, but people have started to experience the flavor of authentic Italian café. That means that the size of a cup of coffee doesn’t matter as much anymore! After years of American coffee dominating the Chinese coffee market, Italians are gaining ground by opening brand owned coffeeshops in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.


Illy Cafè in the shape of a container

Illy Cafè in the shape of a container



The pleasant aroma and the delicate look of a cappuccio are all characterized by the desirable label “made in Italy.”  Besides real Italian-owned coffee shops, in China you’ll also find the “Italian style” café.  Some of these coffeeshops have names that sound Italian, something like Gino or Milo. Others don’t have Italian names but they choose to serve coffee that has an Italian name and sell magazines, novels and even movie screenings, all to attract customers.


Metoo Café - a coffee shop made from an abandoned factory in Hangzhou

Displays in Metoo café

Metoo Café


Sculpting In Time Café


One common trait that is shared by all “Italian” coffee shops, whether they’re owned by Italians or not, is the quietness.  They are the ideal place for a private gathering.

With the growing presence of Italian café in China, I’m going to boldly imagine the future of coffee in China: the Italian moka or machinetta will appear in the homes of Chinese families.  Instant coffee is not the only choice for homemade coffee anymore!

Bialetti in China

A Gaggia espresso machine diagram