Indie festival perks up Xi’an’s interest in fine coffee
Ten coffee shops popped up under the 1,300-year-old Giant Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi’an, before the new year came.
This was the latest stop on the Indie Coffee Feast’s journey around China, co-hosted by the Woodstock of Eating and Soloist Cafe, and taking place in Xi’an, capital of Northwest China’s Shaanxi province, from Dec 28 until the first day of 2019.
More than 40 boutique coffee shops from home and abroad, including 11 local bean crunchers, opened pop-up counters at the Great Tang All Day Mall in Qujiang New district, Xi’an.
Zhang Qi, CEO of Woodstock of Eating, a Chinese carnival brand, says the event marks the intersection between ancient and current lifestyles in Xi’an.
“We want to break the boundaries among cities by linking the coffee culture of each city,” says Zhang.
The event is the first highlighted event of the 2019 Xi’an & Best of Chinese program, which will run until March 6, and will feature more than 100 cultural events.
Beijing’s Soloist Coffee led eight cafes from the Chinese mainland to Xi’an, together with three Hong Kong cafes and one from Taiwan. St Anthony and Blue copper from the United States, Roots Coffee from Britain and Coffee Liber from South Korea also made the trip.
Ma Kaimin, founder and barista of Soloist Coffee, thinks the Indie Coffee Feast has a more cultural outlook than pure trade exhibitions. It aims to teach customers about boutique coffee.
“The standard of high-quality coffee is open. What baristas do is like wine masters or chefs — finding the best beans and their roasting and brewing methods,” Ma says.
Latte-art masters from Britain, the US, South Korea and China presented their skills each day between 3 pm to 4 pm before handing the stage over to baristas from Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou and Xi’an.
Food was an indispensable part of the activities. Cold French-style desserts like mousses and madeleines pair perfectly with coffee and add a bit sweetness to the bitter bean. There were also cocktails and beer that show the possibilities of infusing coffee with booze.
Thirty groups and performers presented live music, including pop, folk, jazz and indie rock. The performance on Dec 31 lasted until the countdown to midnight and the start of the New Year celebration.
Woodstock of Eating also invited three workshops and seven art institutions to combine different art forms and media with coffee, including illustrations, photos and even a barbershop.
Two forums themed “no coffee boundaries; we want to use coffee to create our life” and “the irregular lifestyle report of Xi’an youth” were held during the festival.
“We hope people can spend more time off the social media and experience more life in cafes,” says Zhang.
Wu Nan, marketing director of Coffee&I magazine, notes that boutique coffee is a relatively new thing in Xi’an, and that the Coffee Feast will attract more local youth to learn about boutique coffee.
“It provides a guide for locals and tourists to find the good coffee in Xi’an, which is something missing from this ancient capital,” Wu says.
After four stops during its inaugural year, Woodstock of Eating plans to bring the Indie Coffee Feast to more cities in China in 2019. Zhang believes each city has its own characteristics.
“So we want to build a coffee calling card for each city we reach,” Zhang says.
“Currently, we are inviting overseas coffee masters to visit China with our festival, and we are also aiming to bring China’s baristas and coffee shops to the world one day. We want to show the world that there are professionals in China making some good coffee.”