Avant-garde coffee is all around town
Coffee lovers are no longer satisfied with traditional coffee, so signature drinks with a touch of caffeine and spirits have become hit items. Which flavor is your favorite?
UNIBROWN (Infinite Branch)
A nearby coffee shop is a java lover’s dream, especially for those who work in a traditional office building. Queuing for coffee is no fun, but what if a good coffee shop is just an elevator ride away?
UNIBROWN’s new store is that shop.
Situated in the heart of Xintiandi, UNIBROWN occupies a spacious corner of the Infinite Building’s lobby. If you work here or nearby, you can place an order on WeChat and pick it up as soon as it’s ready.
The pure white decor has a calming effect, and the huge teddy bear at the back of the open seating area adds a touch warmth to the space. The staggered stairway seats are great for people who prefer sitting more freely.
A wide range of coffees and drinks are available, as well as light refreshments like cakes and pastries.
Dalgona Lavender Latte (38 yuan, US$5.43) is one of the most popular, and you can choose either dairy or oat milk.
In addition to milk, the layered drink features lavender syrup and so-called Dalgona, which requires beating the mixture of coffee and sugar 400 times to achieve a foam-like layer.
Dalgona layer tastes like coffee-flavored whipped cream though much lighter than milk/cheese foam on top of tea beverages.
Add an extra 15 yuan for a cake to make up your own afternoon tea set. Taro Earl Grey Chiffon Cake (28 yuan) is light in texture and not too sweet, and I would recommend black coffee, either Americano or hand-drip, to go with it. For the caffeine-intolerant, check out UNIBROWN’s new summer drink series, Watermelon Jasmine Iced Tea, which also has a cheese foam version.
UNIBROWN has 11 locations across the city, so there’s probably one close to you.
Address: 168 Hubin Rd
Fineline Coffee & Whisky Bar
At the intersection of Maoming Road S. and Nanchang Road, Fineline Coffee & Whisky Bar attracts traditional coffee lovers as well as those who like an interesting twist to their coffee.
Fineline’s signature drink is made of cold brew coffee with fresh fruits and syrup, a great option for a steamy summer afternoon.
What’s more, you can choose from grapefruit, passion fruit, blood orange and peach.
The passion fruit version is particularly refreshing, and the presentation is pleasing to the eye.
But the signature drink of your choice may taste different every time, because the cold brew coffee of the day may vary depending on the origin of the beans.
The one I tried was made with Panamanian beans replete with a nice floral touch.
Behind the bar stands a fine selection of spirits.
Yes, when the sun goes down it transforms into a bar, offering an array of adult beverages ranging from craft beers and whisky to an assortment of cocktails.
For only 39 yuan, Amerianoipa is a sinfully delicious IPA served on tap with a hint of coffee.
Fineline ’s concrete-colored interior is great for photos.
Although the seating area is quite small, you have a bird’s-eye view of baristas meticulously tending to their craft.
Address: 100 Maoming Rd S.
This metallic camper van-like coffee stand is hidden inside Pudong New Area’s Crystal Plaza, opposite the Oriental Sports Center. With eight locations around the city, M Stand is beloved by many for its consistent white decor and delicious coffees.
The new seasonal menu includes four drinks representing four basic flavors.
The decaffeinated Sour (48 yuan) is a mixture of coconut, green apple and lemon juices plus probiotics. Bitter (48 yuan) is made of espresso shots, fresh milk and cocoa powder. Sweet (48 yuan) blends oat milk with sea salt topped with cream cheese and brown sugar.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try Spicy (58 yuan), an alcoholic beverage with a cold brew of Yirgacheffe, whisky, your choice of a second liquor and a dash of lemon juice.
For serious coffee drinkers, M Stand offers a wide range of traditional espresso-based coffee as well as signature offerings like Grapefruit Iced Coffee (36 yuan), made with a shot of grapefruit syrup, a grapefruit slice, soda water and espresso.
The espresso blend features beans from Uganda, Guatemala and Kenya, infused with a touch of flora.
The seating area consists of metallic boxes that serve as tables, so it is not a place for SOHO workers but a quick caffeine fix.
Address: 2/F, East Area, 308 Yaoti Rd, Pudong New Area
Coffee Er Jiang
This small, independent coffee shop has a simple yet flexible menu, offering coffee and hot chocolate. For fans of animation figures and cats, the cafe’s quirky decorations will delight. In every corner, you’ll notice two things: barista-competition awards and certificates from the shop’s cofounders, and miniature figures from popular animation series.
When placing an order, the menu’s flexibility becomes apparent due to all the different brewing methods to choose from: hand drip (V60), syphon, French press, moka pot, manual espresso maker and Belgium siphon coffee maker.
The prices vary — between 32 and 39 yuan — based on the beans and brewing method.
The manual espresso maker — or “La Wa” on the menu — is especially popular, because most cafes don’t adopt this time-consuming brewing method that requires the barista to warm the water chamber several times prior to extraction.
Watching the espresso slowly exit the chamber is an experience in itself. Many say La Wa’s flavor tastes lighter than coffee extracted from an electric espresso machine.
Please note there are currently no desserts on the menu.
Address: 248 Nanchang Rd
Time: 7:30am-8:30pm (Monday to Friday), 10am-8pm (Saturaday and Sunday)