Reading Life in the Hills and Woods

elsewhere cafe MAO














There is an everlasting power in the mountain that keeps drawing people in. Yet in days like these, when we all need some fresh air, where can we go to smell the earthy aroma of green mosses paired with a view of the dazzling light of the city?

After receiving their licenses, almost all Taiwanese gather in groups to roam mountainous and seaside roads on motorbikes.

In the 1980s, there was a vibrant scene in Taipei’s Maokong district for its wide variety of tea houses and tea shops located all over the mountain —among which, you could find Taipei’s most famous teagarden. From tea growing, tea making, and tea drinking, all sorts of tea-related activities took place day and night; the little community on the mountain operated like a moving castle in the fantasy novel. But about a decade ago, coffee shops and hand-made beverage shops began gaining popularity, even the Japanese fell in love with bubble tea. Maokong is no longer as popular a site as it used to be, and the lights went out one by one.

Xiaoyang, Xiaofu, Jiadai, and Pinhe run the Everywhere Cafe in Taipei city center. They all share fond memories of riding a motorbike up to the mountain together to take in the night view and have a cup of tea.

“We miss those days a lot and hope that others can also create these beautiful memories like we did; riding up the hill and looking at the magnificent night scene.”

“That’s why we looked for a place in Maokong to start and run the Everywhere Cafe MAO.”

I heard that more and more people are opening coffee shops in Hong Kong.

I heard that more and more bookstores are closing down.

The Everywhere Cafe Maokong branch has a bigger menu than its founding location in Taipei city center as it includes more food options like rice and noodles. One can hardly describe the Maokong branch as a mere coffee shop because it also sells directly-imported foreign language picture books, as well as serving as an exhibition venue.

“Is being a multi-purpose space a way for the business to survive nowadays?” I flipped open the picture book and pondered. Despite how vuglar the term “slashie” is, I began to admire how these four like-minded owners run a multi-purpose space so smoothly and efficiently that they could manage to open a second branch in the Maokong mountain. 

Every time I asked about the secrets to their business success, the four partners gave me the very same simple, yet affirmative answer:

The love for mountain fragrance, the absolute trust and close collaboration among partners with each person doing what they are good at, and not too much calculation. Surrounded by hills and woods, the multi-purpose space becomes part of the natural scenery where visitors can enjoy a peaceful and tranquil moment.

Taking a sip of Darjeeling black tea, I closed the book. How much more interesting and exciting can it be for Maokong in the future? Whatever the future may bring for them, I genuinely look forward to it. With efforts from here, there and everywhere, the lights begin to shine once again in the mountain of Maokong.