Anna Solovyeva has been to more coffee shops in Shanghai than anyone else. Period. She keeps a meticulous spreadsheet of all the different shops she’s been to and evaluated, and that number now exceeds 400. She also wrote two exhaustive articles detailing a fraction of her finds. She knows a lot about coffee.
So I met her at Starbucks to compare lattes and Americanos. The result? Luckin wins on account of better, fruitier beans. That, despite the Luckin latte showing up without any foam (and hence, technically a café au lait), and Luckin being cheaper by a few kuai on all drinks, including delivery. The granular analysis found that Starbucks’ clear Americano was probably slightly stronger than the cloudy Luckin one; that Starbucks may use cheaper robusta beans in their Arabica mix; and that Luckin appears to be competing on both price and quality. Disagree? Download the Luckin app for your phone and take the test yourself.