Gay-Friendly Coffee Shop Opens in Beijing

by Sam Cronin

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday October 3, 2019

Bear Brew is a newly opened specialty coffee shop located in the Xisi neighborhood of Beijing, quieter and a bit less explored than much of the rest of the city. Founder Ryan Wei explains to that the shop is special not just in being a dedicated coffee shop (which is still a fledgling industry in China), but also for it's LGBTQ inclusive founding attitude.

"LGBT folk come here every day, they know this place. They are hoping to find a pretty boy in this place, [so for some customers] it can be kinda magical."

The name, Bear Brew, includes a subtle nod to those who want to read between the lines, and emphasizes the inclusive atmosphere of the shop, but to most customers, it may be little more than a cutesy sounding name.

"We cannot make so much trouble, so we don't want to push too far," he tells Sprudge. Homosexuality, while not illegal in China, is in somewhat of a grey area where many people don't feel comfortable being open about their sexuality publicly.

Sprudge beautifully describes the atmosphere of the new Bear Brew as such:
"At this time of year, the entrance is still adorned with those classical bright red banners. Hanging vertically, the paper hosts thick black Chinese characters, rhyming couplets that are thought to bring good luck. Entering the cafe itself the eye is immediately drawn upward to the large skylight window, a perfect circle that drops sunlight around a single white room."

The coffee shop also has a uniquely beautiful view of the White Cloud Pagoda, one of the first Tibetan Buddhist temples in Beijing.

When asked about his passion for coffee, Wei responds that "it's good to be passionate, but don't push it [onto the customer] too far. Coffee is still starting in China. If they want to ask any questions, we are ready to share everything we know. Or if you just want to drink it, you can. After all, it's just a drink."

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