Tag Archives: coffee

Food Friday: Kaffestugan

27 Apr

My favorite cafe in Chengdu by far is Kaffestugan. It’s a cheery little cafe just out of little north gate. The entire shop is well lit and bright, the crowd is usually pleasant, and they have free wifi Plus, the coffee is fantastic.

A nice vanilla latte.

Kaffestugan is run by a pair of Swedish/Korean expats, so the place is very foreigner-friendly. The menu is in English and Chinese, and the food is straight up Swedish. This is a good thing because oh my god this stuff is delicious. They have a lot of Swedish delicacies, but I mostly go for anything with salmon in it because I am starving for seafood.

I spent a fair amount of time here back in November writing for NaNo. The bagel with cream cheese and lox is a nice snack.

 An open-face salmon sandwich. Mmmm.

I usually save Kaffestugan for a bit of a treat. A coffee isn’t too expensive – a cup will run you about 25 kuai, plus cheap re-fills. They have other excellent drinks, like a hot cocoa that is probably the best I’ve tasted outside of the Ghiradelli factory coffee shop in San Francisco. Cakes and other sweets are about 20 kuai a plate.

Huge cup of hot chocolate.

Apple Cake. Spongy, with just the right amount of cinnamon. The vanilla ice cream doesn’t hurt, either!

The one and only downside is the location. Kaffestugan is on the third floor, above a number of Chinese shaokao and hot pot restaurants. This means that the smoke from all these little individual barbecues starts to rise around dinnertime. It gets downright smoky inside the cafe by eight or nine and has driven me out once or twice. But Kaffestugan is a fun place to spend an afternoon and I highly recommend you visit if you’re in the area.


Food Friday: Coffee Edition

21 Oct

I am a big tea drinker. No surprise there, given the three summers I spent working in a teashop and years of having a nice earl gray after dinner with my dad. But college turned me into an unrepentant coffee fiend. I mean, the Starbucks was actually located inside Library West, how the heck am I supposed to resist that sort of temptation with my poor sleep habits? My last semester in school I practically had a coffee IV-drip set up in order to get my thesis finished. (I regret nothing!)

Most mornings, my lovely roommate would make the coffee. This was mostly a function of her having the earlier class in the morning. It was a good system: I donated the beans, she made it strong enough for me to stay awake, and I didn’t have to fiddle with rocket science in the morning. Good times all around.

Things are a little different here in China. While Starbucks does have several outposts here in Chengdu, including one a scant mile away over by the Shangri-La Hotel, the price is pretty exorbitant. A medium mocha will cost me about 30 kuai, about five bucks. Not insanely expensive, especially when you look at airport-Starbucks prices, but when compared to the relative cost of everything else around here, it looks a little steep. In comparison, a tea at a stand will cost me anywhere from 2 to 7 kuai, depending on how fancy I get. I generally spend about 10 kuai per meal, usually fried rice or noodles. So spending that much on coffee makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

To fill this necessary gap, I looked at how the locals got on. Instant coffee is all the rage over here. You have a small packet which you empty into your mug. Add hot water. Congratulations, you now have coffee. Terrible, terrible coffee. I’ve found that a single packet doesn’t make a nearly strong enough coffee for me, so I generally tear two or three, depending on how I’m feeling that morning. It’s got cream and sugar already added (although I’m not sure how, exactly). Frankly, it’s pretty idiot proof, which is kind of why I like it. If I got coffee beans and a French press, that would be much more likely to result in undrinkable swill than a cup of coffee.

When I’m in the mood for splurging, I head over to Kaffestugan, the local Swedish coffee bar. I positively love this place. Yes, the stair up to the third floor are gross, but you know what? Good coffee that is cheaper and closer than Starbucks, internet, clean and bright shop area, bookshelves, and (wait for it) bagels with lox. Swedish meatballs. Cinnamon buns. Yes, I do tend to end up spending a bit more here, but you know what? Cinnamon buns. It’s hard to go wrong with that.