One of the finest spots in Beijing for a premium cup of joe, Barista
, the minuscule Wudaoying coffee bar, has spawned a bigger and darker sibling in Sanlitun.
Located in the sun trap that is Nali Patio, and open just in time for the long, hot summer, Barista Speciality is impressively unlit: the shopfront boasts the requisite floor-to-ceiling windows, but even they can't draw in sunlight from the shadowy corner of the courtyard where Barista finds itself. Inside, a moody, minimalist aesthetic reigns supreme, with sparse seating nodding to the fact that few would want to sit in a dark, black box and stare at the various lab equipment over the course of their coffee. It's hard to get a seat at the charming, tiny Gulou location, but it doesn't look like you'll have the same problem at this far less charismatic edition.
Lighting grievances aside, the coffee here is up to the same excellent standards that Barista is so popular for. A short menu features standard drinks such as a double espresso for 25RMB, or there's also the odd quirky coffee such as the soda iced americano (30RMB), which is becoming increasingly popular in our fair city and will surely only become more so as summer marches in. Barista sources its beans from around the world and the blends change daily – we try a mix of Ethiopian, Guatemalan and El Salvadorian roasts, which make for a deliciously deep and rich flavour. The double espresso does not mess around, and if only there was a spot outside to sip it in, it would be the ideal kicker for a lazy summer's afternoon.
Barista Speciality is a serious coffee spot for serious coffee people. Don't go expecting a café and you won't be disappointed; Beijing has few baristas as dedicated to excellent coffee as Barista's own baristas, and that should be applauded. But if you want to really enjoy their skills, buy one of their stylish, glass reusable takeaway cups (58RMB), get your coffee to go, and take your sophisticated sip elsewhere.
By Amy Hawkins