The Coffee Academïcs
Add: 1 South Wu Lu Mu Qi Road, Shanghai 乌鲁木齐南路1号
Hours: Mon-Sun 9:00am-9:00pm
Price: [coffee] RMB23-115; [pastry] RMB39-49; [food] RMB45-128
Visited: May 2016
Will return: Definitely
Located below Glo London and just around the corner from the much-Instagrammed bar & café Blackbird, the Coffee Academïcs is a worthy addition to the coffee scene in the former French Concession. Established in Hong Kong in 2012, this specialty coffee purveyor and roaster has won numerous awards over the years, and has recently made a foray into Singapore and now Shanghai.
Unlike so many tight and cozy speciality cafés in Shanghai, the Coffee Academïcs offers a wide and open space flooded with natural light.
The decor is casual and has a sort of rustic country charm…
… but it was obvious that a lot of thought went into the details.
The Coffee Academïcs features an extensive coffee menu, including classic espresso-based coffee, specialty lattes, and a wide variety of single origin beans brewed with your choice of V60 or Chemex. They also serve a different Globally Inspired espresso-based coffee every month, such as a Portland-inspired Citrus Espressoda for this May and a Seoul-inspired Red Bean Es-Bingsu for June.
The sleek and glossy Mirage espresso machine from Kees van der Westen is certainly eye-catching.
Their single-origin beans are sourced from coffee farms around the world, including their own coffee farm, the Baruffee Estate in Panama. Their roasted coffees have consistently scored 91-94 in The Coffee Review, making it the highest-ranked roaster in Asia. For now, the beans are roasted in Hong Kong and shipped to Shanghai, but they will start roasting the beans in-house as soon as they’ve figured out a way to ventilate in their roasting room.
My first cup for the afternoon was a Pepper Agave Latte (45) with raw agave nectar, topped with ground black pepper. The pepper was an interesting addition. While it didn’t blend as seamlessly with the coffee as salt with caramel or cayenne with chocolate, it offered an invigorating and lingering bite that was quite intriguing. One caveat though: remember to stir before taking a sip, or you’ll end up with a mouthful of black pepper on your first sip – clearly speaking from experience here…
But my favorite on this visit was undoubtedly the hand-dripped cup of Hawaii Kona (60).
As soon as the water hit the ground beans, the air was filled with the pleasant aroma of tropical fruits and a hint of peppermint. The first sip revealed a light acidity that was very easy to drink, and left behind a distinct coolness on my tongue. With time, the acidity became more pronounced, as did a sweetness reminiscent of caramel and vanilla. Definitely my favorite bean right now.
The baristas were very friendly and professional. I had a most educating conversation with Hex about the art of brewing coffee.
There was a nice variety of good-looking desserts on display – eclairs, Mont-Blancs, tarts, and pound cakes. They also have a selection of light eats on the menu, including salads, panini, pasta, and pizzas, all of which are made in-house.
Also available are some single-origin chocolate bars from Raiz Chocolates, an artisan chocolatier in Hong Kong.
The Coffee Academïcs is still in soft opening for now, with the official opening scheduled for June. They’re still fine-tuning some details, but it is well on its way to becoming my new favorite café.