This is the last of a sequence of three Saturday-on-a-Wednesday Shorts from my trip to Beijing this time last year. Metal Hands Coffee Co. is a rapidly-expanding coffee shops/roaster chain which, having only started in 2016, already had four shops by the time I visited in December 2017. These are all centred on Wudaoying Hutong, a narrow old-fashioned alley in the Andingmen Residential District, home to the original Metal Hands.
The subject of today’s Coffee Spot, Metal Hands White Space, is just a few doors along Wudaoying Hutong from the original. It’s a similar size and shape, but otherwise they are like chalk and cheese, with White Space taking a very clean, modern (and above all white) look to its décor. The coffee offering, however, is the same, with a standard espresso-based menu using a house-blend, plus four single-origins, which are available either as cold brew or through the V60.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Metal Hands White Space is on the ground floor at the end of a short, two-storey row of shops, sheltering under a slightly over-hanging balcony belonging to the shops above. Although a similar size and shape to the original Metal hands, that’s where the similarity ends. For starters, unlike many shops on Wudaoying Hutong, including Metal Hands and Barista Speciality Coffee & Roasters, which are accessed by two or three steps, it’s at street level.
The main difference, however, is the décor. Whereas the original is all wood and stone, White Space, as the name suggests, is white, with white plastic walls, a white-tiled floor and a high, flat white ceiling. The window-bar and its chairs are white, the bench opposite the counter is white, as is the counter itself, which is on the left-hand side (Metal Hands has its counter on the right). The La Marzocco G3 espresso machine, grinder and Brewista swan-necked kettle are all white. In fact, the only deviance from this colour scheme are the silver chairs lining the counter. Other subtle differences tend to be lost in the overall shock of the whiteness of it all.
When I called in for five minutes the previous evening, at the behest of the barista at the original Metal Hands, I must confess that I preferred the warmth and natural materials of the original. However, returning in bright sunlight the following morning, White Space grew on me, although I still preferred the jazz (playing at the original) to the modern pop (White Space).
A bench (with storage space underneath) provides seating on the right, although customers are encouraged to sit at the counter, which has six high, silver chairs running down the side while at the back, the counter stops short of the wall, allowing space for another two chairs. Similarly the counter stops just short of the window, allowing space for a three-seat window-bar. It also lets the barista in and out without having to climb under the counter (a notable feature at the original Metal Hands!).
During my visit, the menu was identical to the one at the original Metal hands, right down to the choice of the same three cakes. Having had a flat white at the original the night before, I went for pour-over, selecting the Panama Elida Estate, a naturally-processed typica varietal. This was served in a glass beaker, a glass on the side and accompanied by a glass of warm water. The coffee itself was lovely and delicate, more than holding its own as it cooled, tasting every bit as good cold as it did when it was hot.
Given how close they are, you could easily visit both Metal Hands and, since the coffee is identical, the choice largely comes down to aesthetics, although it could easily be settled by which one has a free seat!
|65 WUDAOYING HUTONG • DONGCHENG QU • BEIJING • 100011 • CHINA|
|www.facebook.com/pages/METAL-HANDS-Coffee-Co||+86 (0) 155 1053 3895|
|Monday||10:00 – 19:00||Roaster||Metal Hands (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||10:00 – 19:00||Seating||Counter, Window-bar, Bench|
|Wednesday||10:00 – 19:00||Food||Cake|
|Thursday||10:00 – 19:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||10:00 – 19:00||Cards||Cash Only|
|Saturday||10:00 – 19:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||10:00 – 19:00||Power||Limited|
|Chain||Local||Visits||6th December 2017|
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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