For someone who spends a lot of time in coffee shops, my knowledge of coffee is surprisingly dire and my inaptitude shows, with many a barista inquiring in hushed tones whether what I actually wanted was a latte not in fact a xiaobei (espresso)?
That being said, I work better in public spaces and burn through caffeine like a Hummer guzzles gas, making coffee shops my natural habitat. That is why I took it upon myself to write a series of reviews based on my experiences of cafes over the summer period, safe in the knowledge that only a handful of people have ever overdosed on caffeine.
My search for mobile offices and desire to understand Beijing’s cafe culture led me to my first top-up at Sanlitun SOHO’s Cafe Flatwhite.
Thankfully, placing my order this time around was easy as I went with the signature Flat White (RMB 20). The beans come from Rickshaw Roasters, and while the flavor was rich and the price decent, I was also concerned with how I would get on with their other flat white: the bar table top.
While the bar offered ample room for my laptop, fake Moleskine, and coffee to spread out all over, the bursts of coffee grinding noise grew irritating in no time. The open kitchen was wasted on me; I like to drink my coffee, don’t particularly care about seeing it made, and detest hearing it.
Solving the problem, I migrated to a corner table, which gave me ample room as well as access to multiple outlets and extension cords. Now sheltered from the kitchen, the wordless music and low hum of nearby business meetings created the ideal coffee shop buzz for getting work done.
I found the cafe’s location within the mall hidden enough to avoid stampeding foot traffic, yet also near enough to restaurants in Taikoo Li and Bar Street, a personal requirement as ending my day with dinner and drinks a hop and a skip away gives me motivation to work.
Overall, convenience and good facilities convinced me to ask for the stamp card (buy ten coffees get one free) and although I was peeved the staff didn’t offer it to me when I placed my order, I quickly forgave and demonstrated my loyalty by pinning my card on the board along with the others.
Vibe and design (how cool you’ll look working): 3/5
- Mismatched pastel cups and plates, nice decor, but nothing to write home about
Productivity (how much you’ll get done): 5/5
- Great Wi-Fi, laptop friendly, bright lighting for low-tech work
Follow my caffeine addiction on Instagram @xheatherrrr, or join me by tagging your pictures with #cafehoppingbj.
This post first appeared on thebeijinger.com on July 8, 2014.
Photos by Heather Budimulia