January 11, 2019

A Specialty Coffee Shop Tour of Shanghai, China

Shanghai is China’s biggest city and one of its fastest growing. Coffee consumption is growing equally quickly in China’s urban centres and Shanghai is no exception. A major financial hub and international melting pot, the city has embraced coffee culture.

There are hundreds of branches of well-known chain stores. But there are also great local specialty cafés and roasters. Let’s take a look at some of the specialty picks in this bustling metropolis.

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An SOE latte at Blacksheep Espresso. Credit: Chloe Chang

Why These Five?

There are many specialty cafés in Shanghai with excellent drinks and service so it’s impossible to choose the best. These five are recommended for their excellent service and quality coffee. They all use locally roasted beans, are devoted to specialty coffee, and are my personal favorites.

1. OPS Café

OPS was established in 2017. At just 9 square meters, most of the guests drink coffee as they stand, but the lack of seating doesn’t put them off. The signature drinks menu is changed seasonally.

The most novel feature here is the “mobile barista service.” No matter where you are in the space, the barista will come to you and make your coffee in front of you. They’ll explain the process and origins of the coffee as they do so. It’s hard to beat that level of service.

Inside OPS Café. Credit: Chloe Chang

Where177 Taiyuan Road, Xuhui District
AtmosphereWelcoming and friendly
Espresso MachineDalla Corte Mini
GrinderMahlkonig EKK43
Coffee OfferingsEspresso-based drinks, signature drinks
Must-Try DrinkSeasonal signature drinks
Food & Other DrinksNo food menu
Nearby SightsClose to the historical house Jiangjieshi Former Residence and Shanghai Arts and Crafts Museum.

An OPS Café signature drink and its mobile barista service. Credit: Chloe Chang

2. Seesaw

This small chain was founded in 2012 and now has 20 stores in China. Seesaw devotes itself to Yunnan coffee with its own coffee plantations and roastery. Through the Seesaw Yunnan Project it raises awareness of coffee from this region.

The Huaihai Middle Road store in central Shanghai offers espresso-based drinks, pour overs, and baked goods in an industrial-inspired space with black walls. Stop here for a break while sightseeing or shopping in this busy retail district.

Seesaw’s Yunnan washed coffee served as a pour over. Credit: Chloe Chang

Where755 Huaihai Middle Road, Huangpu District
AtmosphereTrendy and modern
Espresso MachineLa Marzocco Strada 3G
GrinderMazzer Major Electronic, Ditting KR804
Coffee OfferingsEspresso-based drinks, signature drinks, pour over, tea
Must-Try DrinkYunnan pour over
Retail OfferingsRoasted coffee beans, coffee equipment
Food & Other DrinksBaked goods and desserts
Nearby SightsShopping district of Huaihai Road, Fuxing Park, and Shanghai Museum of Sun Yat-sen’s Former Residence

3. Moon Coffee Roasters

There are dozens of small alleys off Maoming Road. Among the independent designers is this old-school Japanese-style coffee roaster. It’s a charming and quiet spot to take a break and enjoy a cup of house-roasted coffee.

Inside Moon Coffee Roasters. Credit: Chloe Chang

WhereNo. 2, 75th Lane, North Maoming Road, Jingan District
AtmosphereTranquil
Espresso MachineLa Marzocco GS3
GrinderNuova Simonelli Mythos One, Mahlkonig K30, Ditting KR804
Coffee OfferingsEspresso-based drinks, signature drinks, pour over, tea
Must-Try DrinkPour over
Retail OfferingsRoasted coffee beans, coffee equipment
Food & Other DrinksBaked goods
Nearby SightsConveniently located for visiting the Nanjing West Road shopping district and Jing’an Sculpture Park

A coffee to go at Moon Coffee Roasters. Credit: Chloe Chang

4. Blacksheep Espresso

When you enter this coffee shop, the barista will ask you whether you like chocolate, tomato, or raisin and then make you a latte based on your preference. But if that’s not to your taste, don’t worry: there are plenty of other espresso-based drinks and pour overs on offer in this bright, modern space.

The bar at Blacksheep Espresso. Credit: Chloe Chang

Where169-4 Jianguo Road, Huangpu District
AtmosphereRelaxed and welcoming
Espresso MachineSynesso 2G
GrinderNuova Simonelli Mythos One, Mahlkonig Peak, Anfim Super Caimano Barista, Mahlkonig EK43
Coffee OfferingsEspresso-based drinks, pour over, tea
Must-Try DrinkLatte
Retail OfferingsRoasted coffee beans, coffee equipment
Food & Other DrinksBaked goods
Nearby SightsClose to the boutiques, bars, and restaurants of the historic TianZiFang area.

5. Café del Volcán

This café serves premium coffees from all over the world, including signature beans from the owner’s family estate in Guatemala. Café del Volcán takes its coffee seriously, offering barista courses and wholesale beans, as well as brewing accessories.

The space is bright and modern with floor-to-ceiling windows. There are also outdoor seats where you can take in the city while enjoying your coffee.

The exterior of Café del Volcán. Credit: Chloe Chang

Where80 Yong Kang Road, Xuhui District
AtmosphereLaidback
Espresso MachineLa Marzocco PB 2G
GrinderAnfim Super Caimano Barista, Mazzer Mini, Ditting KR804
Coffee OfferingsEspresso-based drinks, pour over, tea
Must-Try DrinkPour over with signature Guatemalan beans
Retail OfferingsRoasted coffee beans, coffee equipment
Food & Other DrinksBaked goods
Nearby SightsClose to the Shanghai Arts and Crafts Museum and Shaoxing Park.

The roaster at Café del Volcán. Credit: Chloe Chang

There are an overwhelming number of options for coffee in Shanghai, but for me, these five stand out for their commitment to quality specialty coffee. Whether you visit Shanghai for business or pleasure, add them to your itinerary.

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Feature photo: A branch of Seesaw from the outside. Credit: Chloe Chang

All views within this opinion piece belong to the guest writer, who is a local of Shanghai, and do not reflect Perfect Daily Grind’s stance.

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