The moment I open the door of Café De Sofa I feel like walking into a living room. The quiet atmosphere, the home-like decoration, the warm feeling the wooden furniture is giving me. And, not in the last, the warm welcome owner Vincent gives me. Café de Sofa is definitely a place worth visiting after exploring the hutongs around HouHai.
A Taiwanese in Beijing
Originally from Taipei, Taiwan, Vincent moved with his wife to Beijing in 2008. I like him the moment he tells me he also loves to write (he has a blog too) and is somewhat of a coffee addict just like me. At the time he quickly realized that Beijing doesn’t have a lot of good coffee bars. He misses places to go to and enjoy a good cup of coffee and therefore he decided to open his own.
In the last couple of years Cafe de Sofa has become a popular place; people from all over the country make sure to visit his cafe when coming to Beijing to see the city’s highlight. While talking about coffee, food and life with Vincent, his wife joins us and show me two books. Books Vincent has written. And not only has he written two books about Taipei his, blog has many readers. Vincent is such a popular blogger that Weibo has given him a verification for the amount of followers he has.
From coffee to milk tea
He truly loves coffee. A smile appears on his face when he talks about the beans that he uses to make his own coffee: “On the roof top I have a small coffee bean tree. I have coffee beans from Yunnan, Italy, Brasil, and Burma. I roast them myself.” He quickly runs down and asks one of his employees (in total he has 6 people who are working full time, plus a few part timers) to prepare the coffee from Burma.
Shortly after a tray with a filter and a coffee pot filled with water are being brought upstairs and being put in front of us. “This is the Burmese coffee I drink, I would like you to try it.'” he says as he slowly start pouring the water. As he pours the water the room fills with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and a smile appears on my face. The coffee isn’t too strong and has a slight ‘Earthy flavor’, but tastes good.
In 2009, Vincent opened the doors of his homey café with the idea of bringing coffee to China, but he quickly realized that the Chinese are not used to drinking coffee.
“They often think the coffee is too bitter, that it tastes like Chinese medicine.”
That’s why he decided to add a variety of milk tea on the menu. I get to try the specialty of the house Cheese Milk Tea. I’ve seen it before on menu’s of ‘To Go’ milk tea shops, but I’ve never had the courage to order one. Vincents convinces me to try one, once he tells me he was the first person in Beijing to offer Cheese Milk Tea. And to my surprise I like it! Besides milk tea, regular teas can be found on the menu as well.
Snacks with a view
Besides coffee and milk tea the menu also caters to the hungry. There are choco waffles for those with a sweet tooth and fried cuttlefish balls or a Taiwanese Style Hot Dog for the more adventurous ones. Prices (from 28 rmb and up) seem a little high, but as the costs of rent, salaries and the (imported) ingredients aren’t low, these prices are more than reasonable.
Make sure to bring your snacks upstairs, as that’s where you can sit and enjoy the view over Beijing’s hutongs.
Where to find Cafe De Sofa
When going there by subway, take line 8 to Shichahai and walk towards the Yingdingqiao bridge. Cross the bridge and go straight, you will find Cafe De Sofa in the hutong on your left.
Address in Chinese: 西城区 银锭桥胡同12号(银锭桥南)
Address in Pinyin: 12 Yindingqiao Hutong