Metal Hands Coffee Co

The Metal Hands Coffee Co logo from the wall outside Metal Hands in Beijing.Metal Hands Coffee Co is a small Beijing roaster/coffee shop chain which started in July 2016 with this, the original. When I visited, exactly a year ago in December 2017, following a tip-off that morning from the barista at Soloist Coffee, it had already expanded to four coffee shops, all in a small area in the Andingmen Residential District, centred on Wudaoying Hutong, a narrow old-fashioned alley which is home to Metal Hands.

There’s not much to Metal Hands, just a simple store front, with the counter on the right, and seating on the left, plus a small seating area in an annex at the back. However, that doesn’t stop Metal Hands offering a standard espresso-based menu using a house-blend and four single-origins, available either as cold brew or through the V60. The espresso by the way, is pulled on an old-school lever machine after which the shop/chain is named.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Metal Hands, on Wudaoying Hutong in Beijing, as seen the evening I was there...
  • ... although this, from when I wandered by the following morning, gives you a better feel.
  • This shot, meanwhile, gives you a better idea of context.
  • It's Number 61, by the way.
  • There is a bench outside, with a table. The steps say 'Metal Hands Coffee Co'.
  • Stepping inside, you're immediately greeted by the gleaming metal espresso machine...
  • Beyond this, the counter runs along the length of the right-hand wall.
  • Meanwhile, on the left, a bench runs along the window and then down the left-hand wall.
  • The window bench.
  • The bench continues down the left-hand wall, until, at the back...
  • ... there's this alcove/extension, with an n-shaped bench around a central table.
  • A view of the main seating area/counter from the back.
  • Note that there is storage space (you can put bags/coats in there) under the benches.
  • The space, meanwhile, is open to the A-frame roof.
  • Meanwhile, nice touches abound, such as these pretty flowers on the table...
  • ... and these prickly fellows in the corner by the window.
  • Eclectic.
  • These shelves occupy the space between the door and the counter at the front.
  • Nice mug collection.
  • There are more books, this time in Chinese, tucked away at the back.
  • What I liked most of all (unsurprisingly) was the wide array of light-fittings.
  • I particularly liked this one...
  • ... which rewarded me for playing around with different camera angles and settings.
  • Here's another one.
  • The shaded lights were over the seating, while, on the other side, above the counter...
  • ... were these exposed bulbs, held on what looked like microphone stands.
  • Nice set-up.
  • Naturally I was fascinated.
  • Here's me playing with the exposure...
  • Last one, I promise.
  • The counter has the espresso machine at the front and pour-over at the back...
  • The pour-over is made using these V60s with their neat stands, matching the light-fittings.
  • I recognise that kettle!
  • The menu, meanwhile, is at the front, offering a choice of four single-origin pour-overs.
  • The beans, meanwhile, are at the back, by the grinder.
  • The beans.
  • I, however, was drawn to the espresso machine, a lovely lever model.
  • Step one, grind the coffee...
  • ... then tamp.
  • After attaching to the group head, the lever is pulled down, the glass positioned...
  • ... and off we go.
  • As the spring decompresses, the lever slowly rises, forcing water through...
  • ... the ground coffee and out into the cup.
  • While the coffee is extracting, the barista steams the milk (I'm having a flat white).
  • Almost done now.
  • The extraction has stopped and the milk has been steamed...
  • ... so it's time for the latte art.
  • First the barista builds up the base, mixing the milk and the coffee.
  • Then he starts to construct the pattern...
  • ... building it up an element at a time...
  • ... and finishing with a flourish.
  • My rich and creamy flat white...
  • ... with the latte art in more detail...
  • ... which I paired with an equally rich and creamy cheesecake.
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Metal Hands Coffee Co is on Wudaoying Hutong (a Hutong is an old, narrow alley, often lined with one- or two-storey buildings, although many have disappeared in Beijing, falling foul of re-development) just south of Ditan Park across the 2nd Ring Road. Although far from the sights of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, it’s worth it, both for Metal Hands itself and for the surrounding area, where Ditan Park/Temple of Earth are worth a look.

Metal Hands has a small shop front on the north side of the street, three floor-to-ceiling windows running the full width, each with eight black-frame panes of glass, although the right-hand window is, in fact, a door. This is accessible via two broad, tiled steps, with a two-person bench, complete with round table, off to the left if you want to sit outside.

The counter faces you immediately you step inside, running the length of the right-hand wall, the lever espresso machine directly in front of you on the counter’s short end. This beauty, by the way, gives Metal Hands its name, the twin levers being its “metal hands”.

There’s a surprising amount of seating, with a wooden box-bench running a short way along the front windows, before turning 90⁰ along the full length of the left-hand wall. There’s enough room for eight people along the wall, where you’ll find four small, oval tables, and space for three more people in the window. The bench, by the way, is open at the front, so you can store bags and coats underneath. A small extension at the back on the left completes the seating, with windows in the back and right-hand walls, plus a glass skylight. A high, central table is surrounded by an n-shape bench which seats another 12.

Overall, Metal Hands, with windows front and back, is a bright space during the day, while in the evenings, multiple exposed bulbs provide cosy, subdued lighting. The stone-tiled floor, plastered walls and open, wooden A-framed roof, all add to a relaxed, welcoming décor (in contrast to another branch, Metal Hands White Space, a few doors down the street).

During my visit, the espresso was a blend of a washed Guatemalan and natural Ethiopian, while there were four single-origins on pour-over. I really liked the look of the pour-over menu (featuring a washed Kenyan, honey-processed Costa Rican and two Panamas, a natural and a washed Geisha). However, I was drawn to the lever machine, having a flat white instead, the espresso blend going really well in milk, producing a lovely, creamy drink.

I paired this with an equally rich and creamy cheesecake, one of three cakes on offer, the other two being Chinese (Quemo and Zhe Shi). The service, by the way, was exemplary, my coffee coming with a glass of (warm) water and my barista going out of his way to show me the other branch along the street (White Space) as well as letting me know about The Corner, another excellent Beijing coffee shop.

61 WUDAOYING HUTONG • DONGCHENG QU • BEIJING • 100011 • CHINA
www.facebook.com/pages/Metal-Hands-Coffee-Co +86 (0) 155 1053 3895
Monday 09:00 – 21:00 Roaster Metal Hands (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 09:00 – 21:00 Seating Benches/Tables; Bench/Table (Outside)
Wednesday 09:00 – 21:00 Food Cake
Thursday 09:00 – 21:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 09:00 – 21:00 Cards Cash Only
Saturday 09:00 – 21:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 09:00 – 21:00 Power Limited
Chain Local Visits 5th December 2017

For another view of Metal Hands, please see this by fellow blogger, Sugared n Spiced.

If you want to read more about my trip to China, including the other Coffee Spots I found along the way, there’s a page dedicated to the trip.

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3 thoughts on “Metal Hands Coffee Co

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