Rumors Coffee Roastery, Hunan Road

The Rumors Coffee Roastery logo from the front wall of the original Rumors in ShanghaiMost of the speciality coffee shops I visited in Shanghai in 2016 were very western in style/influence. In that respect, Rumors Coffee Roastery, in the old French Quarter, stood out from the crowd, drawing its inspiration from Japan, where it is reminiscent of the likes of Tokyo’s Café de L’Ambre.

Rumors roasts all its own coffee, serving a wide range of single-origin beans. If you’re looking for an espresso or flat white, however, you’ve come to the wrong place since Rumors only serves pour-over using Kalita-style ceramic filters. Pick your bean and the barista will make it there and then behind the counter.

Talking of which, Rumors has counter seating, another typical feature of a traditional Japanese coffee shop. It’s a fairly small place, so the seats are limited. Like many of the small places I visited in Shanghai, Rumors has no air conditioning, so it can get very hot and humid inside, despite the best efforts of the ceiling fan. If it’s too hot, you can sit outside, although it’s unlikely to be any less humid!

You can, of course, buy any of the beans to take home with you and, if you’re hungry, there’s a range of cakes.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Tucked away on Shanghai's Hunan Road is this cosy little gem, Rumors Coffee Roastery.
  • This is the view looking to the right...
  • ... and this is the view looking to the left.
  • From the street it looks as if it is split in two, with door, stools and a bench on the left...
  • ... and this open window-bar on the right, which allows great views into Rumors.
  • This is the view looking straight in...
  • ... while from here you can see the counter at the back.
  • There's a list of (some of) the different coffees Rumors offers on the wall outside...
  • ... as well as a really neat logo/sign.
  • There's also an A-board to tempt you in.
  • So, let's go, shall we? The door is on the left...
  • ... next to another opening, only this one seems to be a take-away service area.
  • Once you are through the door, a corridor leads to the back of Rumors...
  • ... while off to the right you can see into the little serving area next to the door.
  • At the far end, another door leads into Rumors proper.
  • This deposits you next to the counter, but it's very hard to get a decent shot from here...
  • ... so instead here's the view looking back to the counter. The door's on the left.
  • The main body of Rumors stretches off to your right, ending at the window-bar at the front.
  • The view from the window-bar. All the seating is around the edges...
  • ... starting with a row of stools, Japanese style, by the counter...
  • ... with an armchair and a fold-down cinema style seat at the end.
  • Opposite this is a solitary table against the front wall...
  • ... and then next to that, a row of five stools at the window-bar.
  • Alternatively, you can sit outside at the window-bar, looking in, where you get a chair!
  • The counter is at the back, with rows of coffee beans in jars behind it.
  • Another view of the coffee beans.
  • The counter also houses some cold brew kit, next to the water dispenser.
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot.
  • I liked the decor inside Rumors. This, for example, adorned the door...
  • ... while even the coat hooks were decorated.
  • A rather poor photo of a couple of pictures on the wall.
  • Meanwhile, there's more cold brew kit in a niche in the wall.
  • Finally, these two embroided towels hang at the left-hand end of the counter.
  • All the coffee is stored in jars. This Burundi wasn't mine, by the way.
  • Rumors only serves pour-over coffee, using these Kalita-style fitlers.
  • Step one, grind your beans.
  • I missed the first pour, but here is the barista waiting while the coffee blooms.
  • Next comes the first of several main pours.
  • You can see how fresh the coffee is by how much it rises up, even after blooming.
  • The barista pours the water directly on top of the coffee.
  • That's one of the pours done. Now we wait...
  • ... and then pour again, constantly topping up the filter...
  • ... until we're done.
  • And then serve, in a really funky cup.
  • Rumors also sells cake. I had this very lovely slice of cheesecake to go with my coffee.
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Rumors is in Shanghai’s old French Quarter, a delightful part of town, west of the centre, with relaxed atmosphere, although I was there on the weekend. Tucked away on the quiet, curving Hunan Road, just north of the busy east-west Huaihai Middle Road, it’s not somewhere I would have found, were it not for Jennifer, the local student who I met in And Coffee, who told me about it. This is, by the way, the original Rumors. There is now a second, larger branch on the nearby Xingguo Road, a few minutes’ walk to the west. This branch of Rumors is around the corner from Shanghai Library, the library’s stop on Line 2 of Shanghai’s excellent metro system making it very easy to get to (once you know where it is!).

From the street, Rumors cuts a very photogenic figure, with numerous people coming along to take pictures during my visit. There’s a door to the left, and on the right, a large, open window-bar with seats outside. Between the two is a smaller, open window-bar with a couple of chairs next to the door. I took this to be a take-away serving area, although it was closed during my visit. Finally, there’s a bench right in the middle.

Inside, Rumors is harder to describe, occupying a rough triangular shape, the long side running along the street. From the door, a corridor runs to the back, giving access to the counter, which is at the back on the left, while the rest of Rumors slants off to the right, ending with the open window bar. This is doubled-sided with three chairs and a barrel on pavement, looking in, and five stools on the inside looking out, although you’d probably struggle to fit more than three people on the stools.

The counter runs parallel to the back wall and then curves around at the right-hand end. Five stools run along the counter where you can sit watching your coffee being made. There are also two small, round tables, one at the end of the counter with an armchair and a fold down chair, while the other is against the opposite wall, next to the window bar, with a single dining room chair.

The décor is gorgeous, by the way, dominated by some lovely dark wood. This includes the counter, the furniture and the window bars. Behind the counter is a large cabinet mounted on the back wall, consisting of multiple rows of cubby holes, each with a glass jar holding the coffee.

Rumors has a multi-page menu listing about 20 single-origins from around the world, all with tasting notes. Somewhat spoiled for choice, I selected a Rwandan, which turned out to be a very fine, subtle coffee, with a delicate flavour. Well-rounded, nicely balanced, it went down very smoothly. My only complaint would be that it was served directly into the cup, rather than presented in a carafe, but on the other hand, the cup, with an awesome saucer, was so lovely that all was forgiven.

I paired this with a small, but very fine, slice of lemon cheesecake which nicely tided me over until dinner-time.

9 HUNAN ROAD • XUHUI QU • SHANGHAI • CHINA
www.facebook.com/pages/Rumors-Coffee +86 21 3460 5708
Monday TBC Roaster Rumors (pour-over only)
Tuesday TBC Seating Counter, Window-bar, Armchairs, Bench (outside)
Wednesday TBC Food Cake
Thursday TBC Service Order at Counter
Friday TBC Cards Cash Only
Saturday TBC Wifi No
Sunday TBC Power Limited
Chain Local Visits 1st October 2016

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