As mercury drops sharply with chilly winds, why not warm up with some of the new innovative drinks popular here in Shanghai?
Pepper Butter Latte
Coffee taste: ★★★★
Price: 42 yuan
Black Bird is a restaurant situated on the third floor of a building on Wulumuqi Road. If you stop by, be sure to order the Wild Pepper Butter Latte.
Beautifully presented in a glass, the latte is garnished with a stalk of wild Sichuan peppercorns. The barista carefully weighs 15 grams of pepper butter syrup to add into the glass. The syrup is a Black Bird creation and is freshly made on site. Normally, the syrup can be kept for only about three days. According to the barista, it’s hard to hit the right note when making the syrup, even when using all the right ingredients.
The latte tastes much like a caramel latte at first until the tingling sensation hits your tongue. The sensation is rather mild though; not like what you’d expect from Sichuan’s signature spicy dishes. The flavor twist goes well with the rich balanced coffee, made with a blend of beans from Brazil, Nicaragua, and Ethiopia.
Address: 3F, 1 Wulumuqi Rd S.
Red Velvet Latte
Coffee taste: ★★★
Price: 38 yuan
When the traditional red velvet cake took on a drinkable form, it became a phenomenon on the Internet as well as coffee drinkers in Shanghai. This delectable latte started to appear on menus at coffee shops in Australia about a year ago. Now, don’t be surprised if you find it at your own local café.
Featuring the signature hue of the namesake cake, most coffee shops offer the drink without any coffee in it to maintain the color. But at UN CAFFÈ, you get a version with a shot of espresso, which leaves the drink looking much like a normal latte, apart from the milk froth which is actually a bit pink-tinted thanks to a bit of red food coloring powder.
Address: 2-14A, Metro City, 1111 Zhaojiabang Rd
Honey Peach Macchiato
Coffee taste: ★★☆
Price: 22 yuan
Double Win Café is a takeaway shop selling a wide variety of both coffee and tea drinks.
With its signature Honey Peach Macchiato, honey peaches cubes are blended with steamed milk before a shot of espresso is added to the drink, and finished with a splash of honey peach syrup on top. The house blend of coffee uses three different beans from South America to produce a nutty flavor.
The latte tastes quite sweet due to the fruit, reminding you much of a latte with syrup. If you need a winter warmer, this is a good alternative to a regular caramel latte.
For a calorie boost, try Double Win’s newbie Orange Latte. The topped cold whipped cream gives a strong contrast to hot coffee when the fresh orange curls leave a nice citrus aroma and a bitter taste.
Double Win Café
Address: B1, 889 Wanhangdu Rd
Coffee taste: ★★★☆
Price: 9.9 yuan
Fresh fruit in coffee? To be honest, it tastes better than it sounds, especially if you love avocados. The Avocade Latte at Piu Piu is an avocado smoothie with a shot of espresso. The avocado is peeled and thrown into a blender with fresh milk. Once blended, a shot of espresso is added to the mixture.
Unlike other lattes with fruit, this one is much less sweet than your average fruit-inspired coffee with syrup. The rich avocado taste is still detectable. The house blend espresso I chose was dark roasted, which builds up its nutty flavor. Alternatively, try the other single-origin option — Yirgacheffe — for a contrast in flavor.
The small avocado latte (about 300ml) costs only 9.9 yuan (US$1.43) as a seasonal offer.
Be prepared to wait in a long queue when you visit. The 2-month-old coffee shop has already gained quite a following! Remember to shake well before you sip your Avocado Latte.
Piu Piu Café & Juice
Address: Jia, No 1, 735 Long, Julu Rd.
Purple Sweet Potato Latte
Coffee taste: ★★★★
Price: 32 yuan (Medium), 37 yuan (Large)
I hesitated for a moment before I made up my mind to try the Purple Sweet Potato Latte. The healthy root vegetable is loved by many and is also a great substitute for grains at mealtime. But it still seemed quite strange to mix it with coffee.
The creative drink looks less attractive compared to other latte variations with latte art. While it not be pleasing to eyes, the taste can delight a chilly afternoon with its smooth creamy texture and pleasant flavor. The purple sweet potato taste is well balanced with the nutty espresso shot, a house blend of beans from Guatemala, Ethiopia and Indonesia.
The vegetable is firstly baked and then soaked in honey for hours before being chopped in cubes. The seasoned veggies are kept fresh in freezer. The milk is steamed before being poured into the blender with the purple sweet purple cubes. Finally, a shot is added to the veggie smoothie.
Yuan Sheng Café
Address: No.3, 106 Long, Changshu Rd
What’s new in the world?
White Mojo Specialty Coffee & Roaster in Melbourne is getting attention for its Black Latte, a new offering in Australia. It’s actually quite like a traditional Chinese drink if you look at its ingredient list: a smooth paste of ground black sesame seeds, peanuts and almonds blended with steamed soymilk. Maybe you will see cafés making this super healthy drink in Shanghai soon.