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coffee in Shanghai

Any recommendations for places you can get a good espresso based coffee in Shanghai?

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  1. I don't know any boutique coffee houses. I usually just go to Starbucks (horrors!!) or Coffee Bean.

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    1. re: PeterL

      So sad. I'm sitting here in Shanghai jonesin' for a great cup of coffee. So far, the random bakeries, etc. we've visited haven't had anything worthwhile. :(

    2. Hello
      I suggest you go to Vienna Cafe for your java fix

      Address: 25 Shaoxing Lu, near Ruijin Er Lu / 绍兴路25号,近瑞金二路
      Tel: 6445 2131
      Website: www.viennashanghai.com

      1. Hi - here are some Shanghai recs:

        1. Sumerian - opened by an SF guy- good but limited selection
        2. Cafe Dan - Japanese style
        3. Rumours -Japanese style no expresso but drip
        4. Caffein (carries intelligentsia coffee) - decent expresso

        1. I love Cafe del Volcan on Yongkang Lu. It's tiny but the coffee is great and the baristas are super sweet. And if you're lucky enough to get a table outside, it's a great spot for people watching.

          7 Replies
          1. re: planetary_apothecary

            Here is my report on the cafes we went to in Shanghai. Coffee quality here was better than in Beijing, but not as good as in Hong Kong. Probably to be expected.

            Cafe Dan
            Backstreet 41-248 Taikang-lu Shanghai (in Tianzifang)

            Set up by a Japanese ex-engineer who decided to turn his passion for coffee and cheesecake into a career, this is actually a home style Japanese restaurant. Espresso lovers beware, they only do drip coffee, which we didn't realize until after we'd ordered a latte (think drip coffee with a lot of steamed milk). We also had a black drip coffee, the Tianzifang blend. We're not experts in drip, but it didn't blow us away, and prices were steep with the cheapest cup starting at 45 and prices for single origin coffees going up to 128.

            Seesaw Cafe
            433号 Yuyuan Rd, Jing'an, Shanghai, China
            Ten til seven, but they may switch off the machine earlier than that

            I found the milk quite sweet, but the coffee had a nice earthy flavour. Best coffee in China so far (excluding Hong Kong, and until we went to Sumerian). But that's not hard considering the competition. Coffee was rather overshadowed by a salted caramel brownie, both by its flavour and its quality. A bagel-shaped chestnut eclair was not over sweet and was a better accompaniment. The building is really cool. Get coffee to go and take it up to the roof terrace if you want to sit outside.

            Sumerian Speciality Coffee
            415 Shaanxi Bei Lu, by Beijing Xi Lu,, 陕西北路415号, 近北京西路
            8.30am til 7pm, 8.30pm at weekends - but twice we showed up in the morning, only to find it closed

            Cappuccino is twice as large and twice as expensive as at Seesaw but, most importantly, the coffee is better. Quite a lot of cup variation, especially in terms of strength, but they were all tasty. I would have liked more foam on top; the cappuccino is better made at Seesaw. Great cookies, again from strictly cookies just like at Seesaw; unfortunately they don't do the coffee any favours.

            Cafe de Volcan
            Yongkang Lu.
            10 til 6, hours may be longer at the weekend

            Quality of the taste of the coffee and of the cappuccino making were in between Sumerian and Seesaw. That seems like it should have been a good compromise but we decided we preferred the extremes, for coffee and also for the decor. Inside Volcan is very small and smells overpoweringly of coffee making. If you can get one of the tables outside, they're good for people watching as the cafe is located on a street with quirky Chinese shop houses, filled with expat bars on the ground floors.

            1. re: goldilocks76

              Seesaw turns off their machine? OMG, worst thing you can do to your machine from standpoint of lifetime. And needs big extra care every day, as you will need to change the complete water in the boiler.

              Or do they use an old style hand press machine?

              1. re: NilesCable

                It is an espresso machine. We arrived just after 6.30pm one day, to be told they had just switched off the machine. I don't know if that's because it was quiet that day or if they regularly switch off the machine at 6.30 in order to get the customers out by 7.

                The woman at Sumerian told me that they don't switch off the machine overnight, but we could never get in there in the morning. (Full disclosure: we tried twice at about 10.30/ 11 am; it was the week of the May 1st holiday, but she also told me that their opening hours wouldn't change - and one of the mornings there were two dogs locked inside and another disappointed customer outside - we waited 10 mins and then left for Seesaw, which is about a 15 min walk away.)

                1. re: goldilocks76

                  Great reports thanks on Shanghai and Beijing. One question, you mention the "foam and milk" in the coffees, but did you come across and that achieved true microfoams (textured and stretched milk) where there isn't really a distinction between the two. Instead you get a very creamy evenly textured drink in which the carefully heating of the milk has bought out its natural sweetness.

                  1. re: PhilD

                    Phil, it's hard to say at this distance. Microfoam is not something I had heard of before now, so it wasn't something I was looking for. But I just had a little lesson on it from a friendly barista and, as a result, I conclude that both Seesaw and Cafe de Volcan achieved microfoams. I can't remember with certainty any microfoam in Beijing.

                    1. re: goldilocks76

                      Great to hear some Shanghai baristas can get it right. For me it's the indicator of one who knows their stuff - far too many have milk and foam and that is a far inferior beast. I also find many that don't do it, either over foam the milk to give froth (99.9% of UK coffee) rather than stretching and texturing the milk to bring out its natural sweetness. Or worse still the seperation of milk and foam is because they have scalded the milk and overheated it - often making it very thin. So a microfoam is a good sign they know what they are about....and of course the taste.

              2. I know this is an old thread, but I just wanted to update. As someone replied earlier, Seesaw Cafe (433号 Yuyuan Rd, Jing'an, Shanghai, China) was really good. They're quite obsessive about their brews etc.

                Single Batch beans and all of that business.

                No. & east of Jing'an Temple maybe 5 mins. by taxi.