Unveiling China’s Favorite: The Leading Signature Coffee Drink

Vietnamese Coffee Exporter
Signature Coffee Drink

Signature Coffee Drink : Globally, coffee shops are distinguishing themselves with unique or signature beverages, tailored to reflect local tastes and seasonal offerings. These inventive drinks are pivotal in defining a café’s brand identity and attracting a diverse clientele.

In parallel, China’s burgeoning coffee market has warmly embraced this trend, integrating “特调咖啡” (custom coffee drinks) into its rapidly expanding coffee scene. This shift signifies a substantial evolution from traditional tea culture to a dynamic coffee culture, fueled by innovation and a thirst for variety.

To gain deeper insights into this phenomenon, I engaged with proprietors of two renowned local coffee shops. They shed light on the types of coffee shops spearheading this movement and the signature beverages that are winning over customers’ hearts.

The Evolution and Popularity of Signature Coffee Drinks in China

China’s coffee landscape has undergone a remarkable transformation since the introduction of Nescafé in the 1980s, transitioning from a predominantly tea-drinking culture to embracing coffee, especially in its bustling first-tier cities.Signature Coffee Drink Shanghai now boasts the highest number of coffee shops globally, around 8,000, illustrating the country’s growing appetite for coffee.

This surge in coffee culture can be attributed significantly to Chinese millennials’ exposure to Western culture, fostering a demand for Western-style coffee shops that often feature unique signature drinks. The emergence of signature coffee beverages on Chinese menus, roughly traced back to the early 2010s, coincides with Chinese participants engaging more actively in international barista competitions, which often include a signature drink category.

Owners like Tan Lei of Coffee Surround in Shanghai advocate for the role of signature drinks in introducing specialty coffee to a broader audience, making it more approachable by blending familiar flavors. Signature Coffee Drink Such drinks not only cater to local tastes but also help coffee brands to stand out in a competitive market.

The “dirty” coffee, a visually striking blend of espresso and cold milk, exemplifies the innovative approach to coffee that has captured consumers’ interest. Despite the dominance of chains like Luckin and Starbucks, it’s the independent coffee shops driving the trend, offering classic and seasonal variations of signature drinks.

In cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou, there’s a growing trend towards milk-based signature beverages, heavily promoted on platforms like Little Red Book and TikTok. For instance, Next Door’s Workshop in Guangzhou crafts a unique cold brew with Sumatra Mandheling coffee, caramel, full-fat milk, sweet red beans, and lychee.

The rise of the third-wave coffee movement in China signals a broader acceptance and daily consumption of coffee, as noted by Chenyang “Vanilla” Li of Kokomo Coffee in Chengdu. The diversity of signature drinks, incorporating flavors like juice, caters to varied taste preferences, adding a special touch to consumers’ routines and encouraging them to explore beyond traditional coffee offerings.

The Rich Tapestry of Chinese Signature Coffee Drinks: Regional and Culinary Influences

In the vibrant coffee culture of China, milk-based beverages dominate the scene, enriched with a variety of syrups, sweeteners, and fruit and floral flavors to cater to diverse palates.

Signature coffee offerings are notably influenced by regional preferences and climate conditions. In hotter areas like Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Nanjing, where summers can soar to 40°C (104°F), Signature Coffee Drink the demand for cooler coffee concoctions rises. These often encompass cold brews, espressos mixed with sparkling water, sodas, and house-made fruit jams, with a notable preference among the youth. Fruit flavors such as orange, grapefruit, and peach are especially favored in urban coffee shops.

Echoing China’s deep-rooted tea culture, many signature coffees draw inspiration from popular milk and bubble tea, with bubble tea alone generating sales of about 140 billion yuan ($20 billion) annually. Additionally, many of these coffee drinks feature a thick layer of milk foam, reminiscent of milk and bubble tea aesthetics, and can include “cheese foam,” a frothy topping that’s a nod to the trendy cheese tea from Taiwan.

The visual and textural appeal of these drinks is further enhanced by the addition of milk foam and garnishes like dried fruits or flowers, catering to the aesthetic preferences of younger demographics. Furthermore, the use of plant milks introduces a new layer of innovation, as seen in M Stand’s introduction of coconut milk-based lattes served in a coconut shell, showcasing the evolving tastes and sustainable options within China’s signature coffee beverages.

Exploring the Global Appeal of China’s Signature Coffee Drinks

The expansion of China’s coffee market is undeniable, showcasing significant growth, particularly among white-collar workers with about 60% consuming three cups weekly. This burgeoning interest has brought per capita coffee consumption in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai to levels seen in some areas of Japan and the US.

As the coffee culture flourishes, the interest in signature coffee beverages is expected to rise, potentially extending beyond China’s borders. The trend of coffee shop owners and baristas relocating from metropolitan to smaller cities suggests a nationwide spread of these unique drinks. Notably, specialty coffee brands such as SeeSaw and M Stand are making inroads into second-tier cities, offering innovative drinks like “dirty” coffees and fruit-infused iced americanos, signaling a robust growth in the specialty coffee sector.

The international movement of affluent Chinese expatriates to countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand could further internationalize Chinese signature coffee drinks. Signature Coffee Drink Given the cultural familiarity and taste alignment, expansion into other Southeast Asian markets seems a strategic move for Chinese coffee brands.

Interestingly, the taste preferences of Japanese and South Korean coffee consumers show similarities to those in China, hinting at a broader market opportunity for Chinese signature beverages. Signature Coffee Drink While traditional black coffee remains popular in Japan, a shift towards iced milk-based coffees among younger consumers is noticeable. Similarly, iced americanos enjoy popularity among South Korea’s millennials.

The widespread adoption and innovation of signature drinks by local brands in China’s major cities point to a potential for these beverages to captivate a global audience. The extent of their influence on worldwide coffee consumption trends remains to be seen, but the prospects for China’s signature coffee drinks in international markets are promising.