Café del Volcán
Add: 80 Yong Kang Road, Shanghai 永康路80号
Tel: +86 156 1866 9291
Hours: Mon-Fri 8:00am-8:00pm, Sat-Sun 10:00am-8:00pm
Price: [coffee] RMB26-46; [pastry] RMB12-32
Visited: March 2016
Will return: Definitely
As promised, I returned to Café del Volcán and whiled away an entire afternoon tasting different coffees. The lovely barista that I met last time was away, but I got to meet another barista and their coffee roaster. I had a most fascinating conversation with them and learned a thing or two about coffee tasting.
The beans hadn’t really changed since the last time I visited – it was only a week – but the Guatemala beans that I tasted last time were sold out.
This monstrous roast machine was definitely not present on my last visit.
Let’s talk about the coffee. I used to be quite apprehensive about coffees with strong acidity – a reluctance inherited from my lack of enthusiasm for acidic wines. But this time, I decided to take a chance and asked their roaster Sean to recommend any bean he liked. And the Panama (46) certainly had me converted. The pleasant acidity was tempered with sweetness, both building over time. Combined with the slightly astringent mouthfeel and the lemony and slightly grassy aroma that was refreshing but ephemeral, it reminded me of the delectable softness of English breakfast tea.
The barista (who has a very sophisticated and thought-provoking name that will be lost in translation, so I’ll refer to her as V here) brewed me my next cup. I find the process of brewing drip coffee hypnotizing. Witnessing the foam build with the gentle swirl of the water…
and then watching it fade away…
My next cup, the Sumatra (36), was the polar opposite of Panama – a deliberate choice on Sean’s part, who wanted me to experience both ends of the spectrum. Where the Panama was a violin that began vivaciously but ended with barely a sigh, the Sumatra was a cello, starting almost imperceptibly, but building into a sweet, rich melody and finishing with an assertive smokiness that lingered long after the bow stopped.
Last time I was here, the sweets were almost sold out. This time, they were displayed in all their glory: cookies from Strictly Cookies, waffles from Mr. Waffle, cinnamon rolls from CinnaSwirl…
V and Sean were kind enough to share with me some delicious vanilla ice-cream from Gracie’s, used at Volcán for the affogato.
My last cup for the afternoon, the Kenya (46), was brighter and slightly more acidic than the Panama, and had a bit more body. If the Panama reminded me of English breakfast tea, then the Kenya leaned more toward Earl Grey.
A wonderful afternoon that I’d be delighted to repeat soon.