Deep in the ocean, amongst the coral and coelacanths, is a subterranean volcano set to erupt. Beneath it brews fire and steam, bursting through a coffee bean substratum, building pressure beneath the ground. One day this sea will be infused tan; one day we'll all wake to something other than the oceanspray.
No! That's not a coffee vent, this is:
China may never be renown for coffee. It is sometimes disconcerting how bad it can be sometimes. My sister and I once scoured a whole city to find a single cup of barely drinkable beverage that goes by the same name. That was a second tier city, though. I live in a supercity (of the sort that Auckland will never be). There is coffee, but still Starbucks is regarded highly. Occasionally one may come across a good cup but it remains an exception. Just a week ago I moaned to a friend that there really aren't any decent cafes here.
But then I went to Xiamen. Xiamen is one of the most important cities in Fujian province, just up the coast from Guangdong province and just opposite Taiwan province, that mysterious province that lies beyond the mists of the People's Republic of China's authority. Xiamen itself is a pleasant place but its jewel is an islet by the name of Gulang Yu. Crossing in a ferry, you find the cutest cafes on almost every corner, and many of them are redolent with well ground beans. The coffee itself is decent. In one cafe I had one of the best macchiatos I'd ever had. (A real macchiato and not the sickly sweet caramel thing that calls itself it that at Starbucks, and a cafe close to work.) The cafes themselves have the boutique kind of quirkiness, which this critic found quite delightful. Many of them specialise in a regional sweets or tea (which the province is definitely famous for) which makes the experience even better.
So I drink my frothy words: There are cafes here, and they are good.
(But, of course I could easily speak so delighfully about the tea on my trip.)