Coffee Capitalists


Our friend Eric will join us today, and he asked that we arrange to brew our own coffee in the mornings (one of the perks of being in an apartment as opposed to a hotel room). So this morning I walked out to the local coffee spot, “The Coffee Bean”, which by no coincidence is in a group of restaurants that includes a Mexican restaurant and an Italian restaurant. At a table outside sat three VERY American looking dudes chatting in English: “…good to see Dave at xxxxx last night…” Inside I was greeted with a “Good morning!” from the Chinese staff. I ordered a large coffee and a small latte: 49 yuan. Then I picked up an 8 oz package of coffee beans, which they ground for me: 98 yuan. At about $15 for 100 yuan, that’s $30/pound.

So in the space three minutes I spent more on coffee than we spent on food all day yesterday, which included buying a bunch of fruit for breakfasts this week. To put it in another context, in the book “Oracle Bones” we learn about several of the Chinese students that Peter Hessler taught English to, who graduated to become English teachers themselves. At one student’s first job they were paid 100 yuan a month.

Coffee, it turns out, is a luxury item in China.


One thought on “Coffee Capitalists

  1. Seems like the smarter career move for English-speaking students in China is to sell coffee (or burgers or Croissants or foreign newspapers) to round-eyed imperialist ex-pats.


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