Shanghai’s caffeine hounds celebrate Coffee Week in style

As Shanghai Coffee Culture Week gets underway, shops that were closed during lockdown have mostly reopened. Brands are meeting to set quality standards and to elevate Shanghai’s importance in the coffee trade to a new level.

Photo from CFP

Photo from CFP

By FANG Zhuoran


Shanghai’s army of coffee aficionados combined with the city’s everyday caffeine fans to drink more americanos, lattes, 3-in-1s and skinny soya cheese watermelon affogatos last year than Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen combined. Chinese people spent 383 billion yuan (US$57 billion) on coffee the last year, nearly a third more than they did in 2020. The market is expected to exceed a trillion yuan in 2025.

Drink your way to the top

The top five coffee-drinking cities are, unsurprisingly Beijing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen, all rich cities with excellent food delivery services. Women, especially younger women are the biggest coffee drinkers. Some estimates put women’s consumption at 65 percent - close to twice as much as men are drinking. Gen Z consumers currently account for 8.6 percent of sales but the percentage has been increasing steadily for years.

There are 160,000 coffee shops across the country, about 26,000 of which opened only last year. With over 7,000 to choose from, Shanghai has more coffee shops than any other major city, with 3,200 shops in London, 3,800 in Tokyo and a mere 1,600 in New York. Third-wave chains – the first wave was for instant coffee, the second for multinational chains - many based in Shanghai, have been expanding rapidly. Shops that were closed during lockdown this spring have mostly reopened.

Success breeds success

With plenty of reason to celebrate, Shanghai Coffee Culture Week is in full swing. In addition to consumer events - tasting events, pop-up shops, street fairs and charity sales, and coffee innovations – large consumer brands such as Nestle and Tim Horton’s as well as local startup chains will meet to discuss setting quality standards, working more closely with coffee growers, attracting even more new customs and a variety of trading practices that have the potential to elevate Shanghai’s importance in the global coffee trade to a level commensurate with the citizen’s new-found love of the world’s favorite beverage.