Sometimes, your favorite place is the one you stumble across by accident. In a city like Shanghai, though, stumbling across things can be a bit hard. There are a lot of alleys, a lot of high-rises and a lot of blind cul-de-sacs, and even the most ardent urban explorer eventually gets to the point where every open gate isn’t an invitation anymore, it’s a chore. Which means you’d never, ever find these places unless, say, someone were to tell you about them.

So if you’re looking for coffee shops that are hidden from the rest of the world, in the nooks and crannies of Shanghai, look no further. Here’re 5 coffee shops you’d never ever find without our help.

1, Little Tailor Who Loves Coffee


2/F, 118 Qīnghǎi Road, near Wēihǎi Road

青海路118号2楼, 近威海路

How do I get there?

(hint: open the picture below in a new tab for a larger version)

Qīnghǎi Road in odd little road that connects Wēihǎi Road and Nánjīng West Road. You might know it as the place where Wooden Box Café lives. Little Tailor Who Loves Coffee is hidden away in an inconspicuous residential/office block about halfway up the road. Head in through the glass door and up to the 2nd floor.

How is it?

The interior decoration is just weird, but maybe that’s your jam. It’s a bit too spacious to be considered “cozy,” but it has a lot of fairly comfortable seating spread out over roughly four rooms, lots of natural light and an awesome balcony. The balcony, by the way, is about the only hint from the outside that this place exists, and you’d still miss it unless you were specifically looking for it.


The coffee is fine (nice foam art), and they do food, in case you’d like to grab something to eat while you stare at the pink and purple velvet interior. There’s also a tailor’s workshop hidden behind some screen doors, with a sowing machine, work table and harsh fluorescent lighting. Perfect for those who like their space bit off-kilter and really like dark lace, or someone who really misses sitting on a balcony with a coffee and a cigarette.

The Appeal: Nice balcony, the weird-ass interior.

Ani Café


Lane 401-6 Chǎnglè Road, near Xiāngyáng North Road

长乐路401弄6号, 近襄阳北路

This one is frankly adorable. If you’re a sucker for Shanghai lanehouses or just need a break from, you know, life, this is the place for you. A fancy red door and a quiet, friendly atmosphere.


How do I get there?

Actually pretty easy, but it does require you to walk down into those lanes that you usually brush past without thinking. Start on the south-east corner of Xiāngyáng North Road and Chǎnglè Road (by the rounded building). Just down Chǎnglè Road is a place called Tasty Gri, and at the end of that alley there’s a gate leading into a lane. Go through and look for the Ani Café sign on the lanes going in to the left. It’s the last door on the left. It’s red!

How is it?


Pretty chilled out, coffee snobs welcome. It’s got this living-room feel to it, small (space for maybe 10 people) but nicely laid out, clean and well-lit. It definitely has the best coffee of all of these.

The friendly owner (who speaks English better than she’ll admit) hand-brews every cup of coffee using a host of tools, grinding fresh single-sourced organic beans of your choice, measuring out the grounds, hand-pouring the water, using a manual filter, etc. It takes longer and is about 5-10 RMB pricier than you’re used to across the board, but if you’re a coffee purist, this is the long-afternoon-hang-out spot of choice. No lattes or cappuccinos on the menu here, in fact, nothing involving dairy at all. Except for the baked goods. The homemade cheesecake and tiramisu are mouth-wateringly fantastic.

There’re also anime figurines? So there’s that.


The Appeal: Third-wave coffee enthusiast’s retreat, cozy atmosphere, friendly owner, awesome tiramisu.

See the Scenery of the Balcony


GoHigh Building 7/F, 2 Huàshān Road, near Yúyuán Road

华山路2号高和大厦7楼初创空间, 近愚园路

See the Scenery of the Balcony takes top prize for “most accurate name.” This mid-sized coffee shop boasts a stonking great huge enormous balcony. Seriously. You could easily fit three See the Scenery of the Balconys onto the balcony of Scenery of the Baclony on sEe—god who came up with this name.

How do I get there?

Standing on the south-west corner of Yúyuán Road and Huàshān Road (right before it turns into Wànhángdù Road), head west down Yúyuán Road. Go past the non-descript elevator in the medical store that leads to Tailor Bar (bonus hidden place!) until you reach the vehicle gate. Head left and you’ll find yourself in front of the big glass lobby of GoHigh building. There’s an elevator inside and to the left, take it to the 7th floor and you’re there.


How is it?

Who cares, check out this freaking view!

Coffee’s nothing to write about except it’s fairly reasonably priced. It’s too spacious to feel cozy and a bit too busy for work, but it’s a good place to take friends for a chat or have a fairly casual meeting. There’re several offices on the same floor, so it’s more like the open-plan café you’d see in the lobby of an office block, not really a space of its own so much as co-existing in a corner the business-y types didn’t have enough demi-cubicles to fill with.


There’s a vague super-hero theme going on, with the Flash and Batman pillows on the chairs, and these awesome pictures of Optimus Prime and Megatron as ancient Chinese heroe— who are we kidding, NO ONE CARES. The balcony is huge, the few tables sprinkled about are dwarfed by the cavernous, gaping space where you can pace, run laps or set up a small independent film studio with a full-on soundstage. We imagine it’d be awesome for corporate events or maybe a birthday party if you promise not to fling bottles at the temple right across the street.

Actually, they made the right decision just naming this after the balcony, not much else to say about it.


The Appeal: The balcony.


Lumiere Café


Lane 25-4 Tàiyuán Road, near Yǒngkāng Road



Another in the “lanehouse coffee shop” genre, this little gem is hidden in a non-descript neighborhood right next to where you (used to) do your drinking.


How do I get there?

Walk south along Tàiyuán Road, a bit down from the western terminus of Yǒngkāng Road (pause. Moment of silence. Okay, let’s continue). There’s a gate going into lane neighborhood number 25. Check the picture because basically nothing makes this stand-out from any other gate in the city. Head past the gaggle of old gents sitting discussing, presumably, how nice this lane used to be before coffee shops started attracting strangers into their little domain, and turn left after the notice boards. Lumiere is right there at the end, just head in through the gate and into the garden.


How is it?

An awesome spot. The coffee’s great, it’s usually very quiet, the music is a relaxing mix of mostly familiar oldies, and, sorry to harp on this point in this article, it has a lot of really nice natural light. It’s a nice mix of cozy without being cramped, has comfy chairs and plenty of space for you to put books or laptops if you come here to study or work.

The barista’s a nice young affable with long-ish hair who, and we might just be paranoid here, exudes this stand-offish aura, like your presence is an inconvenience. Like, he just wants to be here in his awesome little coffee shop, man, with his crazy alchemist set of coffee making accoutrements and steel-string guitar, why you have to come in here and ruin it with your breathing and your moving around. Why must you come to his coffee shop, there are hundreds in the city, just leave him alone.

We might be reading a lot into his quiet, reserved demeanor, but if we didn’t, there’d be nothing bad to say about this place. You should go. Quiet, chilled, awesome coffee, hidden away from the rest of Shanghai, and just a stone’s throw from Yǒngkāng, no less.


The Appeal: Good coffee, relaxed atmosphere, nice place to hide from the city.


Mumu Coffee


Lane 553-13, Fùxīng Middle Road, near Sīnán Road

复兴中路553弄13号, 近思南路

A woodworking workshop inside a coffee shop or a coffee shop inside a woodworking workshop? Say that three times fast.


How do I get there?

An easy one to round off the list! Just find the address on Fùxīng Middle Road, west of Sīnán Road and just a block away from Sīnán Mansions, and head into the lane. It’s the first entrance on your left.

How is it?

Overall, not bad. A nicely renovated space, the coffee’s all right, it’s got a picture-perfect pair of armchairs out front, and if you like the smell of fresh wood, this is the place for you. They’ve squeezed a workshop under the landing at the back of the shop. Saws, hammers, chisels, awls, other craftsman-y tools all over the place.

They apparently offer woodworking classes, if you’re into that sort of thing. It could probably get noisy, so maybe check ahead if there are lessons scheduled if you just want a quiet coffee and somewhere to read. But it’s a secluded spot that’s relaxed, will brew up a cup of joe for you at a reasonable price, and has comfortable seats.


The Appeal: Woodwork?

So, how many of these did you know about? Know of any other coffee shops that no one would ever, ever find unless you marked it on a map with a big red X? Let us know in the comments down below!

Author: Enjoy Shanghai

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