China as a whole has traditionally been a bastion of tea drinkers, although Shanghai has a history of coffee drinking dating back to the 1920s and 30s, when local and international writers, intellectuals and artists established a coffee house culture. These old haunts were all closed during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). In the last 20 years, they have come back in full force, and there are over 60 coffee chains in Shanghai buzzing with foreign and Chinese students, professionals and tourists. There seems to be a Starbucks on most shopping streets and in every mall, alongside branches of the Italian chain Bonomi, the British Costa and the Taiwanese Manabe. Many more independent coffee houses also serve sandwiches, wraps, smoothies and even main dishes. Most of the popular cafés provide free Wi-Fi.
With many outlets around the city, this highly popular café/deli is known for wholesome breakfasts, sandwiches, salads, smoothies and frappes, all served without any additives, preservatives or MSG. Delivery is available.
Puxi: CITIC Square, 1168 Nanjing Xi Lu
Pudong: 104 Xinmei Union Square, 999 Pudong Nan Lu
Gubei/Hongqiao: Room 108, Maxdo Center, 86 Xianxia Lu
Citizen Bar and Café
A great artsy continental café popular with French expats and hipsters generally that serves affordable sandwiches and brunch items. It’s extremely crowded on weekend evenings, but otherwise a very civilised place for a coffee, a drink or a bite to eat.
Mon-Fri 11am-12:30am, Sat-Sun 10am-12:30am
222 Jinxian Lu, by Shaanxi Nan Lu
Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Shanghai in Jiashan Market, Melange Oasis is eco and family friendly. It has organic food and hammocks to lounge in.
No, 37, Bldg. D, Jiashan Market, Lane 550 Shaanxi Nan Lu, by Shaoxing Lu
A gem in the French Concession with good coffee and food.
Ferguson Lane, 376 Wukang Lu, by Hunan Lu
House of Flour
For those who crave decadent desserts, five-star pastry Chef Brian Tan’s House of Flour is for you. The coffee’s not bad either.
DBS Tower, 1318 Lujiazui Huan Lu
Housed in what was once the annex to the German Consul’s residence, this city classic has more character than most coffee houses. While the food choices are limited, the real draw is the atmosphere, highlighted by a large collection of knick-knacks.
25A Taojiang Lu, by Hengshan Lu
A cozy atmosphere featuring a fireplace, light American fare and comfy couches makes Amokka an inviting café option.
201 Anfu Lu, by Wulumuqi Lu