Best Coffee Shops in Suzhou
Updated: Jun 18
If you are looking for a cuppa, some of the well-known franchises such as Starbucks, Costa and Pacific Coffee have made their indelible mark in Suzhou Industrial Park, (SIP). Hands down, Costa make the best mocha in the land. Starbucks has an impressive reserve in both SIP and Shanghai. But maybe you are looking for something a little less obvious and mainstream. Thanks to arduous, lengthy, caffeine-fuelled research, I have created a favourites list that will take you off the beaten track (a little) and involve very good coffee. For the more quirky and the quaint, I would recommend heading to the Old Town. But for the foreign investment and European- style coffee shops, SIP has a decent offering. We've even just acquired 2 Peet's Coffees (1 in the Suzhou Center Mall and 1 in Times Square) and 2 brand new Tim Hortons, (1 in Suzhou Center Mall, 1 in Times Square). This article focuses on SIP.
1. Cafe Mersey
Situated on the cross roads between Tangpu Road and Xinghu Street, next door to Starbucks, this place has a modern, fresh and chic feel. It's good for breakfast, lunch and brunch and fresh, artisan takeaway bread which they bake on site, (quinoa sour dough and fennel & cashew nut ciabata among others). Coffee comes in little glasses or mugs, and as well as the traditional options, the menu also includes some original concoctions such as dirty coconut coffee. It's a hit with the Chinese, (always busy) and there's a little outdoor seating opposite the fountains. A recent discovery but I can't wait to go back to try another of their coffees and loaves.
2. Patisserie des Alpes
No 32 in the Horizon residential compound, next to the Suzhou Center shopping mall, on Xinghan Rd, this cute little cafe offers a little shaded outdoor seating and limited indoor seating. As it is rather hidden, snuggled behind walls and shops in the compound, it's probably the residents' of the Horizon compound's best kept secret; (not any more)! It's surroundings are surprisingly peaceful given it's not far from a main road. If you go before noon, you can get the free croissant with any coffee deal. It's purely coffee and pastries here, not a lunch munch spot. But there's definitely something deliciously crispy and buttery and French about the pastries which makes a refreshing change from Chinese imitation brands.
On the ground floor of the Suzhou Center shopping mall next to the Uniclo Clothes shop is Seesaw and it's bedazzling coffee sophistication. For a quality chemex or pour over, this is sleeker alternative to Costa or Starbucks and is serving customers from the minute they open at 8 am. They also have a few cakes and cookies to accompany the coffee! It might be hard to find a seat!
4. Baker & Spice
Baker & Spice is in a central location in Xinghai square, next to the Phoenix mall on Suzhou Avenue West. As well as good coffee, the menu is quite extensive, offering Asian-western- fusion dishes such as seared salmon and black rice, Thai curries, wraps, pasta, sandwiches, fruit smoothies and salads. Long, wooden benches and tables provide a great space for family seating and there are also quiet corners for lap-top fiends. It's open from 7 am to 10 pm every day. A cafe by day, a wine bar by night! Baker & Spice is super popular with expats and locals alike. My kids really like going here!
5. Echo Cafe
Slightly more off the beaten track, tucked away at the back of the 'New, Old Town' named: Xietang Lao Jie, which is located just south of where Songtao Road merges with Nanshi Street. It's a cozy cafe, and the most peaceful on this list. A great selection of coffee; (roasted beans from around the globe) and cake. The surrounding area is a pleasant reconstruction of an ancient town. Wandering the lantern-lit, cobbled streets you will feel as though you have travelled back in time to China's ancient past. Admire the little bridges and the open canals and you'll be spoilt for choice for craft beer and meal options as the restaurants vary from Korean to Indian to Italian to Local style.
Centrally located at Moon Harbour, the area in front of the Cultural and Arts Center. Unico was one of the first coffee shops I visited and have repeatedly gone back. It's dark and cool in summer and warm and cozy in winter. Every other seat is a soft, welcoming sofa and as well as coffee, this is where you'll find the best waffles and fruit plates.
So, that's my top 6 round up of best coffee shops in SIP. There are of course many more, especially in the Old Town and New District, but they may have a blog post all to themselves, depending on the whether the next coffee shop research proposal gets approved....