• Restaurants
  • Cafes
Photograph: courtesy SUMERIAN via WeChat
415 Shaanxi Bei Lu

Sumerian in Jingan brings an obsession with terroir and taste more akin to a wine bar to the neighbourhood coffee shop. Californian general manager David Seminsky has created a Wonka-like coffee factory within the café’s limited space and he’ll happily give you a tour of the ‘lab’ where a glossed roasting machine and sieves patiently drip, concocting coffee to match any palate.

If you take your coffee with milk, no sugar and want something iced, Seminsky recommends the Kyoto iced coffee (32RMB), a powerful and robust slow drip blend. He’ll even show you how it’s done: the ratio of coffee to H20, the timing, and the mechanics. Some people drink several cups of coffee everyday, but do we understand what it is we are consuming? Sumerian asks you to take a step back and learn exactly what it takes to make your daily drink.

Coffee equipment aside Sumerian doesn't take itself too seriously and it's a fun, laid back place to pull up a chair and people watch from the floor-ceiling windows for a couple of hours. Stocking local craft foods, such as Amelia’s lemonade and Strictly Cookies, there’s a strong community feel, a warming aroma of roasted coffee and two adorable Bichon Frise puppies, Burrito and Doudou, lolloping about on sacks of coffee beans.

For a sweet to pair with the bitter notes of caffeine, Sumerian’s peanut butter stack (38RMB) is a layered confection of chocolate, peanuts, mousse and caramel so intensely saccharine, it will make adding any sugar to your cuppa superfluous.

For a more filling bite, Sumerian have created their own dedicated bagel line Boom Boom Bagels. Baked offsite to their own recipe, the bagels are then put together next door at Sumerian’s taco shack Dogtown and feature flavours such as the juicy pulled pork melt (55RMB), the breakfasty Big Country (60RMB) which comes with cheese, mushrooms and thinly shredded fried potatoes topped with a particularly oozy sunny side up egg or the chunky monkey (35RMB) an open faced bagel with Amelia’s brand creamy peanut butter topped with banana slices and honey.

Venue name: Sumerian
Opening hours: 7.30am–6pm Mon 7.30am–7.30pm Tue-Sun
Metro: Nanjing Xi Lu
English address: 415 Shaanxi Bei Lu, near Beijing Xi Lu, Jingan district
Chinese address: 静安区陕西北路415号, 近北京西路