When I first arrived in Shanghai, the choices for decent coffee didn't range far away from the five-star hotel lobbies and my own kitchen. Now there's a wide range of choices for a decent cup. I do like my coffee on the strong side and I am a cappuccino drinker no matter what time of day. But herewith below you'll find listings that will likely meet your own criteria of a good cup.
1. Amokka Café
I like Amokka because it has a big and airy upstairs with comfortable seating and a few plugs for old computers like mine whose batteries don't last very long. They have a full range of coffees, drinks and food so you can start with coffee and breakfast in the morning and work your way through to lunch. The coffee is good and the atmosphere is nice.
Address: 201 Anfu Road | 安福路201号
Tel: +86 21 5404 0998
Opening Hours: daily 7am-midnight
When Baker & Spice opened its first outlet on trendy Anfu Road, it was a boon from Heaven. Shanghai didn't have a good bakery scene and this cool little cafe serving amazing baked goods, breads and excellent coffees was a huge and immediate success. It has now expanded to multiple locations around Shanghai (mostly in big shopping malls) but I still like Anfu Road for its chummy staff and intimate atmosphere.
The coffees are decent and they make a super strong cappuccino that is very much to my liking. Stick with a small size though, their "medium" size is crazy big.
Address: Multiple locations (see their website for a list). First and coziest cafe at 195 Anfu Road | 安福路195号
Tel: +86 21 5404 2733
Opening Hours: daily 7am-8pm
Café del Volcán is as much of a place to go and buy coffee beans as it is to drink coffee. This small café boutique specializes in its own signature blends and roasts its own beans. The coffees are exquisite and you'll probably find yourself buying bags for gifts to take home.
Address: 80 Yongkang Road near Xiangyang Road | 永康路80号近襄阳路
Coffee Hotline: +86 156 1866 9291
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 8am-8pm; Saturday & Sunday 10am-6pm
4. Café Paddy
Named for the patron saint of music, this lovely little cafe is run by a Chinese couple who have connections to the Shanghai Chamber Orchestra. Light classical pieces play in the background and their menu is European/Shanghai fusion. I love their "Shangahi Breakfast" and their pastries and cakes are freshly made daily. Function rooms are available upstairs.
Address: 64-2 Fenyang Road near Fuxing Xi Road | 汾阳路64－2号近复兴西路
Tel: +86 21 6418 3077
Opening Hours: daily 9am-9pm
6. GZ Café
The neighborhood GZ Café is in is as much fun to visit as the cafe itself. Located in one of the lane houses in Jing'An Villas, the neighborhood is a lovely lane community and also full of little shops and cafes. Located just off Nanjing Xi Road, one of the (many) fancy-pants shopping districts in Shanghai (get your Gucci across the street), it shows a local, funkier side of life. The cafe serves good coffees in a super-casual atmosphere. Bookshelves are full of whimsical objects. I enjoyed the coffee. My daughter enjoyed the toys.
Address: Jing'An Villas, Lane 1025 Nanjing Lu, House #162 | 南京西路1025弄162号
Opening Hours: daily 10am-6pm
Cousin of Vienna Café, this organic restaurant serves excellent coffees as well as an array of good standards like sandwiches and pasta dishes. They also always have freshly made cakes and pastries. It's very kid friendly too with access to and seating in a big, closed courtyard, high chairs, and bean bags. Check into their events too, they often screen movies.
Address: Jiashan Market, Shaanxi Nan Road, Lane 550, No. 37 – Building D | 嘉善市场,陕西南路550弄 37号 D栋
Tel: +86 21 6433 7727
Opening Hours: daily 9am-10pm
Rumors is about hand-crafted, exquisite and expensive drip coffee. The Japanese owners bring over beans imported originally to Japan (Japan gets all the good stuff) and then roast and drip the coffee per order.
The shop is tiny: there are 4 stools at the bar and room for 4 people to sit - intimately - in a small room facing the street. But the owners are delightful to chat with and there always seems to be someone who can speak Chinese and English if your Japanese is rusty. They happily explain the different beans and love to give you a whiff of the beans to help with your choice.
I personally found the coffee on the weak side.
Address: 9 Hunan Road | 湖南路9号
Tel: +86 21 3460 5708
Opening Hours: T-Th 11am-7:30pm, Fri-Sun 11am-9:30pm
10. Vienna Café
Vienna was the first place in Europe to open a coffee house and the style of coffee associated with the Viennese is sweet and creamy. Vienna Cafe on charming Shaoxing Road in the heart of Shanghai's former French Concession is owned and operated by a real, live Austrian so it exudes authenticity.
Vienna Cafe serves all ranges of coffees and they're all good (I've tried them). Their Viennese cafe is basically dessert with a kick but they do a great latte too. Go on Saturday for lunch and have a yummy schnitzel too. Thursday night is movie night.
Address: 25 Shaoxing Road, Shanghai | 绍兴25路
Tel: +86 21 6445 2131
Opening Hours: Sun-Wed 8am-8pm, Thurs-Sat 8am-10pm