We wanted to find out more about the brains behind the café and so we asked Crystal Yun, owner of Café Du to share her secret on why we all like it so much.
Crystal sits perched on a high stool at the counter, alongside Amber her 6 year old daughter. Both effuse warmth and friendliness which is so welcome especially if you are new to our community. I remember myself four years ago dropping into the café after our visit to BISS Puxi. It was a great place to relax, reflect on what we had seen and imagine what our life was going to be like all over a refreshing mango smoothie and a great cup of coffee.
Crystal started the café 7 years ago having had a successful career in PR and Marketing for international companies. The reason why she started the café is simple. ‘I love making coffee and hosting people in my café. My passion is to find great coffee beans, introduce them to my customers and enjoy with them.’ Crystal really does know her beans. She is a certified Golden Cup Master and a Q Arabica Grader.
Originally from Shaan Xi province, Crystal has lived in Shanghai for the past 16 years since she graduated from college in Xi’an. The café was opened in May 2009 and the main reason why Crystal chose Baole Road as the location was she says, ‘…. because I like the atmosphere of an international community. I believe people here like coffee and care about the quality of coffee. And I like to communicate with people who have multiple culture backgrounds.’
Crystal believes the secret to her success lies in her slogan, ‘Your home away from home’. ‘People here are far away from their home country, they need a place to meet friends, exchange information, enjoy a nice coffee and good food. The atmosphere of our Café is friendly and welcoming. We keep providing good quality products and good service too. Our staff are trained to speak English and serve our customers in a western way to make them feel comfortable. We also provide space in the café for them to post and get information too. Many customers tell me they feel like home in our Café.’
But it’s not just coffee and good conversation that attracts people to the café. Crystal opens up the walls of the café for local artists to exhibit their work for free and sell them without any commission to the Café. The café also helps to organize birthday parties, charity bazaars, new book lunches, baby showers, music shows. The list goes on and later this year they plan a coffee and salsa party.
Turning our attention to the customers I was intrigued to ask Crystal if she had any interesting stories about her customers. ‘I am always surprised by my customers and the things that can be done in the Café. One time they brought all the material for Cross Stitch and did it in the Café. Some ladies leave their mahjong in the Café and play together every Thursday. Some people bring their paints to paint with a friend in the Café.
With all her experience of living in Shanghai and of seeing expats come to live here over the years, Crystal’s five things she would tell a family to bring from their home country are,
- Coffee maker, then buy beans from local roaster like us.
- A Camera to take as many pictures as you can.
- Kid’s favourite toys to make them feel comfortable.
- Favourite music CDs and books.
- Family pictures because you will miss everyone a lot.
Her top three tips for negotiating when renting a house are
- Membership for the clubhouse.
- Maintenance and repair procedures.
- Priority to renew the renting once contract finished.
Like lots of expats in our community Crystal does her food shopping using a variety of shops including the local grocery shops, Carrefour and online. For plants she supports the local flower shop next door as well as enjoys visiting the Hongqiao plant and flower market on Hongjing Lu. For furniture Ikea is good for those necessities and there are local furniture suppliers for more unique pieces.
When caring for the health of her family Crystal would recommend DDS Dentist and Shanghai United Family Hospital.
Although she loves to eat at her own café Crystal enjoys eating out at other local restaurants and cafes. These include for western style food Pizza Express, Yasmines, and Blue Frog all located in the nearby Fashion Park. For Chinese food Crystal recommends Chun Zai 301, on the third floor of the Fashion Park and Yong Ji Cantonese on Baole Road.
For taking the family downtown to eat, Crystal suggests Green Apple, Blu Bistro, Big bamboo, and Taste&See, and for a night without the children it has to be either Lost Heaven, Simply Thai, POP, Flair Rooftop, Franck Bistrot , Museo, Shanghai Brewery, or Hakkasan,
At weekends Crystal with her family enjoys many of the delights of living in Shanghai. They enjoy visiting the museums, seeing a show, going to the movies, brunch with friends or a party.
Further afield Crystal would recommend for a day trip, a weekend or school holiday
Suzhou City, ancient garden tour, Hangzhou City, west lake tour, Wu Zhen water town tour, Tongli water town tour, and Huang Mountain.