Mellower Coffee, Century Link Tower 1

My Enchanting Yunnan pour-over in my Therma Cup at Mellower Coffee in Century Link Tower 1, Shanghai.I set off one murky Sunday evening in Shanghai with the aim of catching a basketball match, but armed with the knowledge that along the way there was a branch of my favourite Shanghai roaster, Little Bean. Located in the lobby of the Century Link Tower 2, it was right above my destination, the Century Link metro station. Sadly, Little Bean appears to be closed at weekends, but while I was looking for Tower 2, I wandered past Tower 1, where, glancing through the window, I saw Mellower Coffee in the lobby.

Mellower Coffee is a local coffee shop/roaster chain, with multiple branches around Shanghai. In this case, there’s a simple counter tucked away in a corner of the lobby, with nine two-person tables providing seating in the lobby itself. The choice of coffee is impressive for somewhere so small, with two blends on espresso and nine single-origins on pour-over through the Chemex, plus various signature drinks and a small selection of pastries. Unsurprisingly, it’s disposable cups only, so don’t forget to bring your own.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The Century Link Mall. But wait, what's that, to the left, in the lobby of Tower 1?
  • Let's take a peek through the window, and... It's Mellower Coffee! But how do we get in?
  • There is a door from the street, that leads directly to the counter, but it was closed...
  • ... so I went in via the main lobby, where you get this view, all lit up at night.
  • The view back towards the main lobby of Century Link Tower 1.
  • There's another way in, through the Century Link Mall. You come out of these doors...
  • ... which are right next to Mellower (which will be behind you to your left).
  • Mellower Coffee, with the counter at the back on the left, and the seating to the right.
  • The seating, as seen from in front of the counter...
  • ... and here, later in the day, when it was quieter.
  • All the seating consists of small, round, two-person tables.
  • The tables themselves are worth a second look, by the way.
  • I was particularly taken by the multiple reflections in the windows and on the floor.
  • Meanwhile, these add a nice splash of colour to what could be a very sterile environment.
  • The two-part counter is tucked away in a nook at the back of the lobby.
  • There's a retail counter off to the right, with the usual selection of coffee and coffee kit.
  • There's a wide range single-origins from around the world...
  • ... as well as Mellower's two house espresso blends,  Sweet Fragrance & Rich Fragrance.
  • You order at the till at the front of the counter, where you are tempted by the...
  • ... cakes in the chiller cabinet to your right (sadly depleted late on a Sunday evening).
  • There is a comprehensive coffee menu in front of the till...
  • ... while gives all the drinks options and Mellower's extensive list of single-origins.
  • The coffee side of the operation is on the second part of the counter...
  • ... where all the available single-origins are lined up in jars for you to inspect.
  • Unsurprisingly, I was drawn to the Enchanting Yunnan, part of the Coffee Finder Series.
  • You are welcome to take the lid off for a closer look.
  • My coffee, brewing in a Chemex...
  • ... and here, in my Therma Cup, admiring the Mellower Coffee table top.
  • I'll leave you with my coffee, all on its own.
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Although not looking for Mellower Coffee, I’d knew the name, having failed to find one of its branches earlier that week (it had closed last year, a common-enough tale in Shanghai). Therefore, it immediately had my attention when I spied it through the window. Located at the back of the lobby of Tower 1, one of a pair of high-rises flanking the Century Link Mall, it’s on the Century Avenue side, with access direct from the street, the lobby and the mall.

Arriving by Metro, exit 7 (street level) deposits you directly outside Mellower Coffee, where a handy door leads into the back of the counter. From the mall, follow signs for Tower 1 lobby, where you’ll find Mellower immediately behind you on the left. Finally, entering via the front of Tower 1 on Weifang Road, Mellower is on the right-hand side, past the elevators.

Speciality coffee’s done an excellent job of getting into malls and other high-end Shanghai settings, which, in many western cities, are almost exclusively the preserve of the big chains. A fairly modest set-up in terms of size, there’s a two-part, L-shaped counter tucked away in a nook at the back. On the first part on the counter, a till faces the lobby, while behind it, the long part of the L houses the coffee part of the operation, a two-group La Marzocco Linea espresso machine and its grinders. Opposite this, on the right, is the retail selection, while the street door is at the back.

The seating off to the right, where the curving glass wall of the tower lets in plenty of light (and ensures that Mellower is visible from outside). A row of six, small, round two-person tables with plastic bucket chairs follow the line of the wall, while three more, with softer-backed chairs, form a second, inner row, all looking out across the grand sweep of the marbled-floored lobby.

As I’ve discovered elsewhere in Shanghai, a lack of size is no barrier to ambition. Mellower offers two espresso blends, Sweet Fragrance and Rich Fragrance, and no fewer than nine single-origins on pour-over through the Chemex. Six, including two Chinese-grown coffees, are in the ordinary range, while three are from the more expensive Coffee Finder Series, including one from Yunnan and a Geisha (at 98 RMB a cup!).

Naturally, given my quest to explore Chinese coffee, I tried the Coffee Finder Series Enchanting Yunnan. Served in a single takeaway cup (or, in this case, my Therma Cup), I initially classed it as a good, rather than outstanding, cup of coffee, but as it cooled, it grew on me, developing a very pleasing sweetness, another example of the great strides taken by Chinese-grown coffee.

Monday 07:30 – 19:30 Roaster Mellower Coffee (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:30 – 19:30 Seating Tables
Wednesday 07:30 – 19:30 Food Cakes
Thursday 07:30 – 19:30 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:30 – 19:30 Cards Union Pay, QR Code
Saturday 10:00 – 19:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 19:00 Power No
Chain Local Visits 10th March 2019

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