Located on the Sanlitun road less traveled, Backyard Cafe was difficult to find and not worth tracking down just for a place to work. However, a crowd of embassy-business types was congregated here, speaking volumes of its position as a small neighborhood mobile office.
Walking in, I felt like I was entering a much more casual workplace than the one I had departed. There were business meetings taking place, individuals on laptops and notebooks and not-as-awkward water cooler conversation in the background. The television (set to CCTV) contributed to the hum as well and although no one was watching it, it was quite welcome.
The caramel latte (RMB 25) left an odd taste in my mouth but was visually pleasing. After I took photos, downed the cup, and got my caffeine kick, I didn’t feel rushed to leave. The staff didn’t hover, but that’s probably because service levels were at the bare minimum. After ordering at the counter and asking for the Wi-Fi password you’re on your own.
Uncomfortable chairs and the unbearable heat inside the cafe eventually led me to jump ship. However, the cafe did provide a relatively productive environment as I was able to charge my laptop at the outlets along the walls and sunlight filters in through the windows, creating a pleasant environment for reading.
All in all, not a bad spot just not worth going out of your way for.
Vibe and design (how cool you’ll look working): 4/5
The shelves covered with pop culture artifacts and random photos are an anthropologist’s and vintage lover’s dream. Extra credit for being in the quieter part of Sanlitun.
Productivity (how much you’ll get done): 3/5
In a word, uncomfortable, but maybe that would incentivize you to get stuff done and leave … maybe.
2 Sanlitun Beixiaojie, Chaoyang District
This piece is part of the quest to find and evaluate cafes as mobile offices throughout Beijing, read the previous posts here. 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 22, 2014.
Photos: Heather Budimulia