Michelle Davy

According to, a coffee klatsch is “a social gathering for an informal conversation at which coffee is served”, which sounds like my favourite kind of social gathering. Chilled, informal topped with my single favourite beverage (hot or cold). Coffee, cafés, and café culture have become buzzwords and trends the world over. From franchise coffee chains like Starbucks and Costa Coffee to hipster, stand-only coffee bars, artisanal coffee roasteries (is that word?) to from-bean-to-cup cafes. Fairtrade coffee cooperatives, mixologists using coffee as their base, festivals celebrating the humble bean and all that can be made from it. Coffee drinking is an intrinsic part of the modern world. Whether it is a defining characteristic of a generation or urban tribe or the marker of status, coffee drinking has cultural and social weight. Now, in case the introduction was ambiguous, this is not a post illustrating the sociological and cultural significance of coffee drinking. Nor is it an analysis of how drinking coffee, frequenting coffee shops or how the number of coffee shops per capita is indicative of something or the other. This post is simply a review of coffee shops around Shenzhen that I think are well worth a visit...

1. Akimbo Coffee Lab, She Kou, Nanshan.

Ancient watertown - Zhujiajiao

I first happened upon Akimbo Coffee Lab at this year’s “Good Life Coffee Festival” in Futian. My interest was piqued by the really cool mascot (see picture one above). Then there was the “Grapefruit Coffee”. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of 1) grapefruit and 2) cold brewed/iced coffee but I figured “why not”. And I will say that I was more than pleasantly surprised. Served over ice with a slice of grapefruit and a sprig of rosemary, the coffee was refreshing and not overwhelmingly grapefruity, or as bitter as I had initially thought. Other fruit flavours included Orange, Litchi, Grape and Mojito (not that Mojito is fruit). I tried the Litchi and while pleasant, I preferred the tang and refreshing taste of the grapefruit.

The physical coffee lab, located at the Sage Oracle Mansion near Shekou Port Metro, is super cool. The interior gives you the impression that you’re in a communal lounge area at a tech or design company, there is an outdoor seating area that provides a great view of Shekou Port (at least the current construction) and the music selection is very chill.

2. Pan Pan Coffee, She Kou, Nanshan

West bund in Shanghai

Located on a side street in Dongjiaotou sub-district, most people I know are fans of the cold brew and drip coffee selection at Pan Pan. The shop is small but cosy and despite being near a fairly busy thoroughfare, is also nice and quiet. The owner’s dog is a regular and the décor is light, relaxing and a mix of whites and woods.

3. Egret Book Bar, Shenzhen Bay Park, Nanshan.

Jiabei countryside park

Granted, my interest in this hidden gem, has less to do with coffee and more to do with the stunning view of Shenzhen Bay at sunset. With the current road works along Binhai Avenue, it is a bit of a mission to get there but, worth it. Egret is both a coffee shop and a book shop, so feel free to order a cuppa and take in a good book and the view. Egret offers the usual fair – cappuccinos, lattes, tea – as well as its own signatures and desserts. The interior has communal tables with window seating. If you’re looking for additional quiet, you can opt for the nooks nestled between shelves along the one side. The outdoor, L-shape patio provides views of both the Nanshan and Futian ends of Shenzhen Bay, while the deck provides shade and a lawn view on those hot Shenzhen summer days.

4. Old Heaven Books, OCT Loft, Nanshan


One of a handful of coffee shops located within the OCT Loft Precinct, Old Heaven Books is a coffee shop, book shop and vintage media store. One of the only places I have found in the city, where you can buy the soundtrack to the 1987 Oscar-winning film “The Last Emperor” on vinyl… well pretty much one of the only places I have found where you can find vinyl, cassettes, VHS tapes and CD’s. It’s a hipster or music lovers' dream. Think High Fidelity or Empire Records.

Walk through the doorway separating the books from the coffee and, well, you will definitely want to stay a while. It looks kind of like the patio of a farmhouse. Despite the limited space and somewhat packed seating area, it is pretty homey and, because most of the patrons are listening to music (I’m guessing) through headphones, there’s a quiet buzz that permeates through the coffee area.

5. Sisphye Books, all over

An odd addition to this post, I admit, but as far as chain books stores and coffee shops go, this one is pretty nice. One of the last bookstore franchises, Sisphye books can be found in many malls around the city (and the country). Providing a large array of books, in various genres, educational materials, audio-related goods and surrounded by high shelves, warm woods and leathers, Sisphye books draw you in. “Up” Coffee is the coffee shop extension of Sisphye Books. “Up” provides the usual fair, as well as signature beverages and desserts to complement your coffee selection. The tiramisu is quite good.

Sisphye Books at OCT Harbour has a gorgeous view of the harbour, while the Sisphye Books at Mix C (Luohu) enjoys a warm atmosphere, reminiscent of, what I imagine, a high-end study or salon would be like.

That’s it for this post. Stay tuned for the next caffeine fix.

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