A Journey Through The Best Signature Coffee Drinks In China

Vietnamese Coffee Exporter
Best Signature Coffee

Best Signature Coffee: Discover how coffee shops worldwide are embracing unique signature drinks, each reflecting local flavors and ingredients. Dive into China’s evolving coffee scene, where specialty beverages, including the famed “特调咖啡” (signature coffee), are increasingly shaping the market. Explore the types of coffee shops offering these distinctive drinks and uncover popular choices from interviews with local cafe owners. Don’t miss our article on the surging popularity of coffee delivery in China.

Best Signature Coffee: Exploring China’s Beloved Signature Coffee Creations

Since Nescafé’s debut in the 1980s, China’s coffee landscape has evolved significantly. Historically a tea-centric nation, recent years have witnessed a surge in coffee consumption, particularly in major first-tier cities like Shanghai, boasting an impressive 8,000 coffee shops—the highest globally.

This growth owes much to the influence of Chinese millennials, increasingly exposed to Western culture, fueling the rise of Western-style cafes renowned for their signature drinks.

While pinpointing the exact emergence of signature coffee drinks is challenging, it’s reasonable to assume it gained momentum in the early 2010s, coinciding with Chinese participation in the World Barista Championship’s signature drink category.

Tan Lei, owner of Coffee Surround in Shanghai, emphasizes how signature coffee drinks introduce consumers to specialty coffee, bridging the gap for those unfamiliar with coffee’s nuances.

Best Signature Coffee:  One beloved signature drink is the “dirty” coffee, a double shot of espresso poured over cold milk, creating a visually striking marbling effect, often served in glasses or clear plastic takeaway cups.

While Luckin and Starbucks dominate China’s coffee chain market, independent coffee shops like Manner, Seesaw, and M Stand drive the trend, offering classic “dirty” coffees alongside seasonal variations.

In cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou, specialty coffee shops focus on milk-based signature beverages, promoted through popular Chinese social media and shopping platforms like Little Red Book and TikTok.

For instance, Next Door’s Workshop in Guangzhou serves a signature cold brew featuring Sumatra Mandheling coffee, caramel syrup, full-fat milk, iced sweet red beans, and lychee.

Chenyang “Vanilla” Li, owner of Kokomo Coffee in Chengdu, notes the rapid growth of the third wave coffee market in China, prompting coffee shops to cater to diverse taste preferences with innovative drinks.

By infusing coffee with juice or other flavors, signature drinks cater to a wider consumer base, offering a unique twist to their daily coffee routines.

Exploring the Fusion of Culinary and Regional Flavors in China’s Unique Coffee Creations

Best Signature Coffee: Milk-based coffee drinks dominate the preferences of patrons frequenting Chinese coffee establishments. Complementing these beverages, patrons often opt for additional syrups and sweeteners, featuring diverse fruit and floral notes.

Regional nuances play a significant role in defining signature coffee concoctions across China. In warmer locales like Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Nanjing, where temperatures soar up to 40°C (104°F) in summer, chilled signature drinks gain favor. These refreshments commonly feature cold brew or espresso infused with sparkling water, sodas, and homemade fruit preserves, catering notably to the younger demographic.

Reflecting China’s tea-drinking legacy, many signature coffee blends draw inspiration from milk and bubble tea, deeply ingrained in Chinese culture. Remarkably, the annual sales of bubble tea in China reach a staggering 140 billion yuan (US $20 billion).

In emulation of the creamy textures found in bubble tea, certain signature coffee beverages sport a velvety milk foam layer, achieved through various techniques like milk steaming, cocktail shaking, or the innovative “cheese foam” method. This trend extends to cheese tea, an iced concoction believed to originate from Taiwan.

The incorporation of foam not only enriches the drink’s texture but also enhances its visual allure, particularly appealing to younger demographics. Moreover, some artisans elevate the aesthetic appeal further by garnishing with dried fruits or flowers.

Best Signature Coffee: Innovative trends in Chinese coffee culture also spotlight the rising popularity of plant-based milks. For example, M Stand, a specialty coffee chain, recently introduced an iced coconut milk latte and a coconut milk “dirty” latte, both presented in a distinctive coconut shell vessel.

Exploring the Potential Market for These Beverages

The growth trajectory of China’s coffee market is indisputable, as outlined in CBNData 2021’s authoritative report. With approximately 60% of the nation’s white-collar workforce consuming three cups of coffee weekly, the landscape is ripe for expansion. Notably, per capita coffee consumption in key metropolitan hubs like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen mirrors that of select regions in Japan and the US, indicating robust growth trends.

Industry expert Tan predicts a concomitant rise in the signature beverage segment as overall coffee consumption escalates. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many independent coffee shop proprietors and baristas intend to relocate from first-tier cities to their hometowns, aiming to propagate these unique offerings in smaller urban centers.

Best Signature Coffee: the proliferation of specialty coffee brands like SeeSaw and M Stand into second-tier cities such as Chengdu, Chongqing, Suzhou, and Hangzhou serves as a tangible testament to the burgeoning specialty coffee market. These establishments boast an array of signature drinks, including the trendy “dirty” coffees and fruit-infused iced americanos.

Furthermore, the anticipated influx of affluent Chinese expatriates into countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand holds promise for Chinese signature coffee beverages to exert influence in these markets. Many Chinese coffee brands have already embarked on expansion ventures into Southeast Asian territories, leveraging their cultural acumen to tailor beverages accordingly.

The alignment of taste preferences among Japanese, South Korean, and Chinese coffee enthusiasts presents an opportunity for the broader adoption of Chinese signature drinks. While black coffees remain dominant in Japan, the rising popularity of iced milk-based coffees among younger demographics signifies evolving consumer tastes. Similarly, millennial South Korean coffee consumers exhibit a penchant for iced americanos.

The surge in coffee consumption across China’s major cities has spurred local brands, both large chains and independent ventures, to innovate. Signature drinks, in particular, offer a novel sensory experience for consumers, contributing to their popularity among Chinese coffee enthusiasts. While these beverages enjoy widespread acclaim domestically, their potential to influence global coffee consumption remains a topic for further exploration.