Economic Watch: Coffee craze in China's "city of the future" brews up entrepreneurial spirit

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SHIJIAZHUANG, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Until a few years back, locals in China's Xiong'an New Area, also dubbed the "city of the future," were perhaps not much into drinking coffee, but today it has evolved into a daily staple for many, with local coffee shops serving as hubs for networking, business discussions and exchanging entrepreneurial ideas.

The Migu Cafe in Xiong'an is an innovative space, blending a coffee shop, reading nooks, and a technology and innovation experience center by China Mobile. Just at the cafe's entrance, a coffee-making robot captivates the attention of passersby.

With its bulging body and flexible arms, this machine skillfully carries out the entire process of making hand-brewed coffee, including weighing and grinding beans, placing coffee powder, and pouring hot water.

"Just wait a few minutes and you can enjoy a cup of coffee laced with technology. The robot can make as many as 500 cups of coffee in a single day," shop manager Wang Ying said, adding that since the opening of the shop last October, the robot has attracted many customers.

Cheng Bo, a staffer at China Mobile's Xiong'an office, has his office just above the Migu Cafe. "I prefer to talk with my clients in coffee shops rather than conference rooms, as they offer a stimulating environment with diverse elements," he said.

When Cheng began working in Xiong'an in 2018, it was hard to find a cafe. Now, alongside the burgeoning coffee scene, the city also boasts upscale hotels, he said.

Fueling the surge in coffee's popularity is a vibrant city buzzing with fervent activity in science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.

China announced plans to establish the Xiong'an New Area on April 1, 2017, aiming to relieve Beijing of functions non-essential to its role as the national capital and to advance the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

China's leadership has pledged to build Xiong'an into an innovative, green, smart and world-class city in line with the country's high-quality development path.

Li Yazhou, general manager of Hebei Xiong'an Luoshu Technology Co., Ltd, said the cafe inside Xiong'an New Area Zhongguancun (ZGC) Science Park is a place he frequents.

"This cafe is a shared workspace filled with the aroma of coffee and people's passion for innovation and creation. People exchange ideas and countless opportunities arise from there," he said.

Located on the second floor of the office building in the science park, the cafe often serves as a meeting space featuring several sofas to create a cozy and comfortable atmosphere.

It could also be converted into a conference room, and a large, movable screen can be placed at the end of the long table to display PowerPoint presentations.

In November last year, a roadshow was held at this cafe to offer guidance to companies on how to improve their financing path and optimize their development plans.

Since its inauguration last August, the ZGC Science Park has become home to many high-tech companies, including enterprises in fields such as artificial intelligence, smart hardware and biomedicine. The occupancy rate of the first phase of the science park reached 90 percent.

"Xiong'an is an appealing city. I am honored to participate in the development of Xiong'an and grow together with it," Cheng said.

China Mobile is building a smart-city science and innovation center in Xiong'an, and plans to promote its partners to this center, according to Cheng. Enditem

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