Don’t let that title sound like we’re taking a dig at them. At Hu they take their coffee seriously, and it’s paying dividends. They have the full affair from the normal coffee drinks to special single origin beans from all over the world. The beans are roasted and brewed the way they should be, right pressure and right temperature. It doubles are a vegetarian restaurant as well, with items like veggie sandwiches and desserts.
The building itself is a stand-alone one story, rare for any place in this city and for a coffee shop I’d say they got lucky. It’s location back away from the street allows for much less noise pollution from busy Kaixuan Lu off of Zhongshan Park. Also I should mention the streets around that area are mirror images of Kaixuan and Huichuan on the north and south side. Go for exit 1 and walk north. Heed my warning or you will be walking around in circles for an hour. I know this from experience…
The insides are bright with light wood paneling accented by many colorful photographs and paintings. The bar area is small with chalkboards detailing the drinks and foods. There is ample seating and they were smart about the allocation of space by adding a small loft with even more areas to chill out. Several small book shelves are scattered throughout the room, all with interesting titles like Rock Records: The Album Cover Art Since 1981 and Johann D. Rockefeller’s Letters. I also saw some novels and what looked to be a biography about Donald Trump. Eclectic and hipster-y to say the least.
The coffee is good. I usually get espresso because weak coffee is the bane of my existence and especially in China it’s hard to come across anything but. Here I decided to try an espresso (20RMB for a double), hoping for the best and I was very pleasantly surprised. The flavor was rich and almost fruity. I add sweetener to mine but you almost don’t need to add anything. I also tried an Americano (22 RMB double) just to see if I could go 2 for 2 and again I was very happy with the results. They have Taiwanese tea pots as well from 50-70RMB each, as well as their single origin coffees. The majority are from the coffee growing regions in Central American like Guatemala and Costa Rica but there are a few from the Yunnan region in China even one from Yemen. These are sold as whole beans and one bag ranges from 30RMB up to 88RMB.
Toast and jam with an Americano
The food is simple but made with care. I ordered toast with handmade jam (28RMB) but what I got was something much more special. Thick-cut toast topped with berry jam and a thin layer of gooey cheese and sprinkled with herbs. Having expected dry crunchy toast with a bit of jam, this was a fantastic surprise. They also have veggie sandwiches (25-48RMB), cookies and cakes (12-15RMB/10pcs, 25RMB), beer (25RMB), and an avocado (20RMB) if you really want one.
This is what most coffee shops should aspire to. I just wanted some decent coffee and I keep feeling surprised and happy with my expectations were exceeded. Go there now because if people continue to find out about it, it might lose that special something to keep up with the demand.
Hu Cafe & Bakery – Third Plaza, 146 Kaixuan Lu, near Huichuan Lu, Changning district, (长宁区凯旋路164号第三座, 近汇川路), Tel: (0)21-5251-0137. Hours: 10:30am-11pm daily. Closest metro stop: Zhongshan Park exit 1
See a complete list of our cafe reviews here.
By Noelle Albert
Noelle Albert is a contributor for the Shanghaiist Food desk. Email tips, recommendations, and news updates to [email protected]!