China's Middle-class Getting Addicted to Coffee
Three years ago Liu Renhe started his cafe in Shanghai after quitting his job as a high-rolling banker.
"My first sip of coffee was in San Francisco, and it stirred me the whole night and I thought that I would not have it another time, let alone having my cafe one day," Liu said pouring frothy milk on the surface of a mocha, while also speaking about Lao Mai, his small-scaled cafe nestled in the depth of Shanghai's French Quarter.
Chinese have only in recent years taken to drinking coffee as Starbucks and Costal have set up cafes across the nation.
The number of coffee outlets in Shanghai have jumped from less than 1,000 to more than 4,000 in the past three decades, providing positions for over 120,000 baristas, according to the Shanghai Food Association.
And the profit margin of cafes has reached 16.37 percent, overshooting the average 10.6 percent for all businesses, according to the association.
A cup of mocha sells for 35 yuan (5.57 U.S.dollars) at Lao Mai, which is relatively expensive, Liu admitted.
"Many people are in love with drinking a mug of coffee, but you have to be in love with the idea of running a business," said Liu.
Liu set up the business in 2009. He live broadcasted the process of how he designed and decorated his cafe on his microblog, which attracted a large audience.
Decorated with old photos and postcards, the three-stories-cafe has pictures of Mao and American film posters side by side, and notes are scribbled on the every bit of the wall.
"I am selling more the atmosphere. The goal is not just to have coffee but to have a place to sit and chat," said Liu.
Today, a cafe is not somewhere to stop to buy a coffee beverage, it is identified with modern, middle-class classified recognition among Chinese, especially for young urban Chinese, according to Zhang Yiguo, professor in art department of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.
To have a look at any cafe on Shanghai's hectic Hengshan road, fashionable dressed youths are seen packed in the cozy sofa chatting over the coffee mugs.
Shen Xiaogen, 25, said her top pastime will always be whiling away Saturday afternoon in cozy cafe somewhere in depth of an alley in downtown Shanghai, or sipping cappuccinos on a sunny summer terrace.
"It's like a drug, and I am addicted to now," said Shen, who will spend nearly 100 yuan each time, "by sitting here I am at ease to make friends and find out more knowledge about coffee."
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