Coffee Shop?

Here’s a common Gallery Cafe scenario:

Three stocky middle-aged men walk in off the street. It’s clear they have not come for a pizza. They look at the wall, at the ceiling, at the floor – Uyghurs usually don’t hurry to get down to business. They turn their attention to the waiter, greetings are exchanged, and finally (in Uyghur) “can I help you?”
“This is a coffee shop, right?”
“Yes. Would you like to sit down?”
“How much is the coffee?”
“Between 10 and 30 Yuan per cup.”
“Cup?”
“Do you like strong coffee?”
“Oh, you sell coffee that’s already made? Do you sell instant coffee powder?”
“No, our coffee’s made fresh from beans.”
“How much do you sell the beans for? Can I see?”

When I was first learning about a Turkic people inhabiting the west of China, my imagination turned towards Turkish coffee culture. My first visit to Xinjiang turned that image upside down – there was not a brew in sight. These days, there are middle-aged men who keep a pack of Nescafe on their desks. They drink it black and strong, and love it for every reason you do.

So here we are The Gallery Cafe, in Kashgar. We sell coffee. Freshly brewed. We buy the beans, grind them then brew. It’s not instant. And we enjoy every cup. We own a cafe, and we love sitting in our cafe enjoying a cup of coffee. We are introducing, not just coffee but a coffee culture. Every time we pass by the bookstore we think about how cool it would be to have a little stall inside. But it won’t work for now.

The middle-aged men mentioned before have come in often enough that we expect it now. They are shocked to find a coffee shop that isn’t really selling coffee that they make at home. The thought of buying a cup of coffee, sipping it slowly and watching the world go by, has not occurred to them. We hope they will stay and have a cup some day. Maybe you can come and join them at our cafe!

Note: This article contributed to our blog from Gallery Cafe in Kashgar when they left from Kashgar middle of  last summer 2011. We missed Gallery Cafe!

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