Shanghai just loves to smell the coffee

By HE QI in Shanghai | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-04-19 08:16
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Customers watch baristas at work in a Starbucks shop on Nanjing West Road, Shanghai. [Photo by Gao Erqiang/China Daily]

Beverage savored in city for more than 170 years

Shanghai has recently been named the city with the most coffee shops in the world, which may surprise many people, given that China is renowned for tea-drinking.

However, coffee has long been sold in the city, with the first shipment of coffee beans arriving more than 170 years ago.

According to Sun Ying, a literature researcher based in Shanghai who published the Coffee Map of Modern Shanghai and Coffee Literature, the words "Five packages of Jiafei beans, 70 jin (35,000 grams) per package" were found on a list of imported goods dated May 18, 1844.

Seven years later, Shengchang Cafe opened-the first such independent outlet in Shanghai to offer food with coffee.

Sun said the cafe, which started out as a store that sold snacks at night, run by a Cantonese businessman, became known as the Shengchang Cafe in 1876. It was later transformed into a Western restaurant before moving to Fuzhou Road in 1883, when it was renamed Xinghualou, which is now a time-honored food brand.

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