Fresh Cup Magazine: China’s Growing Coffee Culture

 My first thoughts of coffee when I moved to China were ones of longing.It was my first time in Asia, and I arrived with a job at a city university and a stubborn commitment to experiencing the culture in as pure a form as I could—forsaking a few of my favorite comforts from home that threatened to dilute the Chineseness of my life there. First off: no coffee. At least not in my apartment every morning. No, I would save it for a treat in the newly opened café on campus, or even the Starbucks downtown. I would learn to wake up to green tea.

After four months of private deprivation, a university administrator sent an emissary to my door with a small, friendly Christmas present: a neatly wrapped bottle of instant Nescafé. My will was broken, and I drank.

As soon as I’d washed the bitterness out of my mouth from my first and last cup of instant coffee, I took the hour-long bus ride to the foreign supermarket, in the city’s most upscale shopping mall, and bought a french press. The only bean option was $40-a-pound Lavazza, roasted and ground in Italy. It wasn’t cheap or particularly convenient going back to my morning indulgence, and it certainly wasn’t an exercise in localism, but I found it was possible, and it’s becoming more so every day.

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