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Logan Xue (Huazi)
Founder of Sparrow Coffee — Suzhou, China

Cycling changed my life. In fact, cycling is what originally made me start to like coffee, and now as a result, I have started my own coffee shop. The thing that first made me fall in love with riding was the movie “Forrest Gump,” which also changed my life. At the time, I was in college, doing nothing with my time. I just watched my roommates play games every day. After I watched that movie, I started to think about what I was doing and realized I should be doing something more meaningful with my life. I definitely didn’t want to run across the world like Gump, so I decided to ride a bike instead. 

I realized that we don’t really have a cyclist community here in China. 

I started to learn about cycling by reading forums on the internet. I learned that a lot of bikers, especially in Europe and the US, like to ride their bikes to coffee shops every day. This inspired me, and I realized that we don’t really have a cyclist community here in China. So my original idea was to open a coffee shop with a cycling theme where bike lovers could gather. In the end, it seemed that coffee drew more traffic than bikes, so my shop’s focus is on coffee now—but maybe I’m just being lazy. 

The first time I came to Suzhou, I came by bike. It was the summer vacation of my freshman year of college. I rode from Shandong to Suzhou, and finally to Shanghai. Since then, I have been riding my bike every day and have also started competing in races. Every race and every ride brings me a great deal of satisfaction and thanks to cycling, suddenly my life is not as boring as before and I never know what will happen next. I just know that I will meet different people, experience new things, and see a lot of new scenes along the way. 

If I were to go back now, my hometown is completely different from how it had been in my childhood. 

I miss the kind of hometown I had when I was a kid. I grew up in a rural area and my childhood memories are about catching fish in the river, swimming in the pond, stealing watermelon and making birdhouses. This is the kind of happiness that children in the city can't experience now. If I were to go back now, my hometown is completely different from how it was in my childhood. It’s developing too fast and many things that were previously there are now gone. In the past, we could just put a net in any stream or pond and we could have fish. Now let's not talk about fish —there is nothing. The environment is not as good as it was. If I want to go back now, I have to use my memory. When we were young, we would sleep on the roof in summer because it was too hot to be inside, and we would look at the stars. At the time, the starry sky felt like the kind you can't see now—like childhood memories in that piano song. 

Sometimes I think about my family at home, and a future family. If I had graduated and found a girlfriend to marry and worked a regular job like my relatives do, I may have my own family and a child by now. But I think that may not be for me. What I want is different. I want to break through the past. I think I may live to be different, and I may be an overly independent person. I don’t want to be disturbed by others. I don’t want to interfere with others, so I still live alone. I like to listen to jazz when I’m alone and enjoying my loneliness. It moves me, and jazz—it means freedom. 

If I had a superpower, it would be to fly. 

I like to play jazz in the café as well, and sometimes hip-hop. Many of the furnishings in my shop are also free and different—for example, let's say the trash can is a table and also a chair, why not? Similar to cycling, I think coffee helps me better understand how to live, and may also help me make a lot of friends to live well. Human life is short. How can I enjoy mine in my limited time and change it up as much as I can? I named my café Sparrow after a type of bird that is quite ordinary but still free and flying, because I like to fly. If I had a superpower, it would be to fly—to open the window and fly out into the sky and look down at the city.