I guess China is well known for the amount of fake goods that are produced there, but have you ever seen a fake coffee shop?
I did a double take when I visited the small shopping mall near where to where I was teaching English in China.
I saw a coffee shop that looked almost identical to a more well known chain of coffee shops – Maan Coffee.
I know that StarBucks is often imitated in China. So far I’ve not seen a fake StarBucks – just lots of real ones. So I was somewhat surprised to find a fake coffee shop that wasn’t imitating StarBucks.
So what was realistic about the fake coffee shop and what gave it away?
From the outside the fake one looks similar to the real one. It has a red and black circular logo and the lettering is in green and white. They appear to have used the same fonts as well. However, the fake cafe is called Email Coffee. I’m surprised they didn’t call it Man Coffee or even Woman Coffee.
I think that the Email Coffee name comes from the fact they have computers for the customers to use. I’ve not used these so I don’t know if there’s any difference between the fake and real Maan.
Hats off to the interior designer of the fake Maan Coffee though. I mean it looked *exactly* like the original one. Seriously:
The rustic non-matching furniture of the original Maan Coffee shops was perfectly replicated by the fake one.
As to the food and drink – well I ordered my usual Maan Coffee order of a ham and cheese panini and a watermelon juice. The staff in genuine Maan Coffee shops tend to understand English, but in this one I had to order in Chinese.
As far as waiting time goes, well it was about the same as in Maan (i.e. quite a long wait) so that was pretty authentic.
Sadly I didn’t actually get given a bear as a table number in the fake coffee shop. My guessing is that foreigner customers are so rare they don’t exactly need to be given a table number. And I was probably quite unusual in that I ordered a panini for lunch. Most Chinese customers at Maan order ice cream and waffles for lunch!!!
By the way, here’s a Maan bear from the real coffee shop:
I love these guys so much! I always hope I’m going to get a good colour bear. Actually I’ve had the purple one the most times.
I still don’t know how they link bears to orders – I’d love to have a sneak peak at the point of sale machine to work out how they do it. I think it comes down to the colour of the bear’s fur and what colour hoodie he’s wearing. At Maan the bears have blue or light pink hoodies (well grey, as they haven’t been washed for a while).
At the fake coffee shop all the bears have black t shirts. They’re larger and appear to be more crudely made than the Maan bears:
Here’s the fake coffee shop’s ham cheese panini and watermelon juice. As you can see I’ve drunk quite a bit of the juice so the wait for the panini was quite a long one:
I realise that they’re a bit slow because unlike in Western countries they don’t have a dedicated panini toaster or one of those rapid toasting machines that Subway have.
Here’s the real Maan Coffee ham cheese panini with a watermelon juice. This one comes with a little pot of gherkins and the side salad has lettuce, baby tomato and sliced onion:
Anyway this isn’t really a food blog but I have to say that the fake coffee shop’s panini wasn’t that bad. It definitely had a Chinese spin on things. The side salad was somewhat different to the Maan one as well. It had red cabbage in it and again was pretty, pretty good.
The same couldn’t be said of the watermelon juice however. It just didn’t taste that good. I’ve had the same problem when buying fruit and vegetables (particularly vegetables) from smaller Chinese supermarkets.
So I’d probably go back to the fake coffee shop if I was in the area. I’d go for a coffee instead of a fruit juice though.
One weird thing about the fake Maan Coffee shop – the prices were identical to the real thing! Well that’s China for you.
Another weird thing about China in general is that it’s quite common for restaurants to run out of common food items. I think this is down to the inefficient food logistics system. Food is not that cheap in China – many things are more expensive than they are in the UK.
Anyway, one day I went to the genuine Maan and they didn’t have any paninis. So I had to have this bulky looking cheese and ham toastie instead.
Meh, it wasn’t nearly as good as my regular panini.
Here’s some more Maan Coffee shop bears. I’m hoping to collect the set. Here’s the yellow fur and pink hoodie one:
Here’s the back view of the dark blue bear wearing the blue hoodie:
Have you seen any interesting fake things from China? Would you use the fake Maan Coffee or would you stick to the real deal? Post your comments below.