The winding, dusty alleyways of Dashilar seemed an unlikely
spot for a high-end coffee house, but the original Soloist was only ever meant
to be a pop-up serving caffeine-starved artists during Beijing Design Week. Two
years later, it’s still going strong and has even given rise to a second
location. This time, they’ve done things right from the very start.
location of Soloist serves seriously good coffee in concrete-chic environs. The
team of baristas transcend the usual levels of java obsession and can crack the
shell of even the most hardened skeptics of ‘third-wave’ coffee, the movement
to produce and advocate artisanal brews. If you consider coffee merely a tool
for the delivery of caffeine to ease the pain of your daily struggle for 7am
consciousness, we suggest you venture over to the new Soloist for an education.
Sat within spacious multi-level confines flooded with natural light and
peppered with accents of polished brass, cast iron and stained hardwood,
Soloist is a coffee pilgrimage like no other. From the brewing station in the
lofty space, even the humble latte (35RMB) exhibits a diversity of flavour and
a rich depth that’s enough to justify the enthusiasm of third-wave
The ‘Steampunk 90+’ (35RMB) is worth a visit just to watch them make
it. The machinery utilises an array of glass tubes and steel pistons to brew
what might be the best cup of coffee technology is capable of producing. Move
over, AlphaGo – this is the future of computation.
When time permits, a tasting
flight of three pour-overs (120RMB) is the best way to let the friendly staff
strut their stuff. Sat at one of the repurposed antique primary school desks,
watching them feels like a free coffee tutorial, with a much smoother
aftertaste, of course. All of Soloist’s beans are bought fresh and roasted
in-house, which of course makes the menu unique. The offerings change regularly
but varieties like Ethiopian Sidamo Lion King and Kenyan Gatugi inspire with
complex aromas and lingering flavour profiles.
An expanded food menu at the new
location completes the new Soloist’s new look. Temper your caffeine high with a
toasted bagel, piled high with smoked salmon, or a chicken avacado panini (both
70RMB). Simply put, for serious coffee with personality there is no place like
Soloist. Now if we can only get them to consider a branch in Chaoyang.