Barista Specialty Lives up to Its Name With New No-Frills Nali Patio Café and Jet-Black Coffees

Back in 2014, a few years before specialty coffee began to percolate into Beijing's mainstream, Alex Liu was one of the first café owners to help galvanize the trend with his aptly named Barista shop on Wudaoying. Now that plenty more Beijingers have acquired a taste for high-quality beans, Liu deems it time to open a second spot, this time called Barista Specialty on the first floor of Nali Patio.

Just like its moniker, the café is very much to the point. None of the eye-catching trappings that make Barista's competitors like Bracket, Soloist, or even the more minimalist Metal Hands so inviting to sit and while away the hours are to be found at this new, bare concrete walled venue. In fact, aside from a short row of stools opposite the hulking coffee machine, there's hardly even a place to perch in this matchbook-sized spot.

Instead, Barista is better suited for the Sanlitun set hoping to quickly order a quality cup of joe on the go. Their RMB 35 "dirty," for instance, is creamy enough to go down smooth but still packs enough potency to keep you caffeinated long after the last drop (a measure of the quality beans they use to brew).

Their RMB 30 soda iced Americano – a longtime favorite at the Wudaoying location – is an even more unique must-try thanks to the creative combination of ingredients summed up in its moniker (once again, Liu lets the name say it all).

And while Barista is devoid of pretty much any ambiance, some of its high-end hardware is at least pleasing to the eye. Aside from a mammoth coffee machine for lattes (RMB 35) and double espressos (RMB 25), there's also glowing futuristic siphon machines, plus an antique-looking siphon with wood trim adorning the corner by the entryway.

Those fancy gadgets are complemented by the imported specialty beans that Liu will have on a rotating basis. For now, that portion of the menu includes a couple of pretty cheap options like Costa Rica Perla Negra and Sumatra Golden Mandheling (both RMB 45) along with a pricier RMB 88 Panama Geisha.

Yes, quality at the expense of frivolity seems to be Barista Specialty's signature style – which won't leave coffee nerds copious options to pore over – but just like a jet-black shot of espresso, this new Nali Patio café will more than satiate your daily fix.

Barista Specialty
Daily, 10am-8pm. 1/F, Nali Patio, 81 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District (150 1080 9311)

Photos: Kyle Mullin, courtesy of Barista Specialty