Coffee streams into streets of China's "mountain city"

Coffee streams into streets of China’s “mountain city”

A resident walks through Daijiaxiang alley, dubbed “coffee street” after renovation, in Yuzhong District, southwest China’s Chongqing, Sept. 24, 2022. (Xinhua/Tang Yi)

CHONGQING, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) — In Chongqing, a mountainous metropolis in southwest China renowned for simmering, spicy hotpot often served with beers or strong tea, the exotic flavor of coffee is gaining popularity, spawning new consumption patterns and local businesses.

In Daijiaxiang, an old community in the city’s Yuzhong District, a newly-opened coffee street has turned everyone’s heads for its unique design style.

By utilizing the existing first floors of several old residential buildings as shopfronts, the street has injected modern vibes into the aged block and transformed the former shantytown on the cliff into a popular destination among coffee lovers and social media enthusiasts seeking photo ops and scenic views.

Wu Longquan, a 30-year-old barista, was the first one to set up a coffee shop here. “Although the community was quite old and shabby, its location on the cliff, magnificent river view and retro architectural style all added to its distinctive charm,” Wu said.

Wu said this is his dream coffee shop location, as the place not only serves high-quality coffee but can also convey an expression of his personality.

Talking about running a coffee outlet, Wu said he believes that each generation has its own perspective on coffee. For the previous generation, coffee was only a promising business but for his generation, coffee is part of lifestyle first, and a business second.

Since 2019, Wu has opened five coffee shops and one bakery business that manufactures pastries to complement his coffee.

A young entrepreneur makes coffee for clients in a coffee bar at Daijiaxiang alley in Yuzhong District, southwest China’s Chongqing, Sept. 24, 2022. (Xinhua/Tang Yi)

With the municipal government carrying out urban upgrading by renovating roads along cliffs and enhancing the surrounding environment, an increasing number of coffee shops are mushrooming in old neighborhoods across Chongqing.

International coffee brands are also flocking to the city. In May this year, a Singaporean coffee brand called TAG Espresso set up two outlets in Chongqing, selling about 300 cups of coffee a day.

“Chongqing has a lot of opportunities. It has a population of 30 million, which means a huge consumer market. Moreover, it has a complete logistics system including China-Europe freight trains and the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor,” said Wang Zheng, founder of TAG Espresso.

Wang added that Chongqing has maintained good trade relations with Singapore under the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, co-launched by China and Singapore, and that the company plans to have a total of 10 outlets in the city by the end of this year.

“There were about 1,600 coffee outlets in the city back in 2016 and the figure neared 4,000 in 2021. These statistics reflect that Chongqing is stepping up the pace of opening up to the outside world, which is attracting more talents to join the city’s fledging industry,” said Tan Hua, head of the Coffee Roasting Chamber of Commerce in Yuzhong District.

Furthermore, the expansion of coffee shops has also brought relevant businesses to the city, such as coffee roasting factories, training institutes, and trade and exhibition firms. Two baristas from Chongqing even represented China at the World Latte Art Championship.

“Just like the hotpot which can contain everything, Chongqing welcomes all kinds of opportunities. Whether it is for local manufacturing or some emerging industries, the city is a fertile ground for investment,” Tan said.  ■

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