Among the first on the specialty coffee scene in Shanghai were Cafe del Volcan. They are still going strong and while the cafe is tiny they have a large business selling the roasted beans to other cafes and businesses. The cafe has only a few seats indoors and two tables outside so in total it can seat around 10 people. There is a large selection of different coffee beans to choose from and there is a choice of having it either hot or cold. Of course there is also the option of espresso based beverages.
The coffee quality here is in general high but not reaching the top international quality level. As in most places I have tried in Shanghai the roast is slightly to dark and while the quality is good they are still clearly not among the top ones in the world (in my world I am then talking of the likes of Heart, Tim Wendelboe, Roots and perhaps JB) but still doing an admirable job. The Kenyan filter was excellent, especially iced but the Guatemalan and Ethiopian ones were good but not top notch. What I found very interesting was that they seem very adapt at making the coffee taste great with the beans they have. I did buy some beans with me and I did not come anywhere near producing the same results as they did – when I made it at home it was not good at all. It may of course have something to do with my skills but in general I am fairly good at making coffee and I tried it as Aeropress, Chemex, V60, Gold Filter, Clever and on a regular Mocca Master and while it came out decent with some methods it was still not as good as the cup I had at the cafe. So the staff are perhaps better than the quality of the beans.
Food is non existent but there are a few cookies on sale but for those hungry this is not the place. The service was as I have almost come to expect in Shanghai specialty coffee places excellent and very friendly. They made sure we got proper information on the coffees, were happy to chat and also made sure that we knew that they were cleaning the espresso machine on arrival so it would 5-10 minutes before they could make espresso based beverages. They also offer free wifi but since the place is small it is not inviting to stay for too long.
So how does it rate:
Coffee quality: 3.5
Ambiance and service: 3.5
Vs local competition: 5