Coffee: Long time favourite of the sleepless student, best friend of the busy businessman and, if you're anything like me, a daily necessity for functioning as a human being. China's cities are chocked full of coffee shops and Nanjing is no exception. But if you're bored of Costa clones or the same old Starbucks, Nanjing has numerous coffee shop ventures where you'll find tempting treats, cosy couches and the very best barista's brew. Nanjing's coffee shop scene has unsurprisingly popped up in the popular student / expat area around Nanjing University (Nan Da) and Shanghai Lu. Swarms of coffee-craving students, expats and young professionals gravitate to this area, intoxicated by the coupling of coffee and beer that these miscellaneous cafes serve up. Wander the alleyways and you'll find free wifi, friendly fuwuyuan, drinks offers and most importantly, freshly ground and brewed coffee. Here is just a selection of the best coffee shops that Nanjing has to offer.
1) Sculpting in Time 雕刻时光咖啡馆 View In Map
Sculpting in Time remains a steadfast favourite for coffee in Nanjing, favoured by a young clientele of local students, expats and teachers. The original branch sits close to the north entrance of Nanjing Daxue in a stylish second floor space with expertly prepared coffee, delicious teas (with seemingly endless free refills), decent food, and the best cheesecake in Nanjing. The international habit of treating coffee shops as a home away from home, or office away from the office, is alive and well in Sculpting in Time.
Friends lounge on sofas, couples enjoy candlelit dinners and there's usually a number of students beavering away in the relatively quiet surrounds, making use of the free wifi. I'd highly recommend a trip to its partner branch near the east entrance of Fuzi Miao (Confucius Temple). Its spacious balcony hangs over Nanjing's waterways to make the perfect summer spot, with the same menu, relaxed atmosphere and chic décor as its parent cafe. An Americano, Latte or Cappuccino will set you back around 22 RMB with a slice of heavenly cheesecake around 18 RMB.
Reason to go: The cheesecake!
Add: 2F, 47 Hankou Lu, Gulou District, Nanjing
Tel: 025 8359 7180
Opening Times: 08:30 – 23:30
2) AJ'sView In Map
AJ's serves up a mixture of soft jazz, Chinese and Western rock covers with an eclectic drinks menu and vaguely Moroccan style decor, creating a distinctly international flavour. There's an incredibly relaxed atmosphere here, where it's perfectly acceptable to pop in for an afternoon nap on one of the leather sofas, chill out with a good film on your laptop, or settle in with your studies for the day. On a busy corner down the backstreets between Nanjing Daxue and Shanghai Lu, AJ's attracts local students with free wifi, large cups of strong coffee, and patio seating out front (though less appealing in the cooler months). A large Americano, Latte or Cappuccino goes for 22 RMB. Specials include flavoured syrup additions (including an intriguing Mandarin Mocha), and a decent selection of desserts starting from 9 RMB.
Reason to go: Large cups, unobtrusive music and quiet surrounds, it's a great place to get some work done, meet for a language exchange or chill out with a good book. Their loyalty card gets you a free cup once you've bought five.
Add: 11 Nanxiu Village, Hankou Lu, Gulou District, Nanjing
Tel: 025 8330 9671
3) 3 CoffeeView In Map
With barber shop awnings and a bright blue facade, 3 Coffee teeters over the beeping horns and bustling bodies on Shanghai Lu. Offering all the usual coffee shop fare, 3 Coffee stands out from a growing crowd of coffee hangouts for its rustic charm, outdoor seating and bookshelves overloaded with (mostly Chinese) books, arts magazines and movies. Amongst eclectic antiques and peeling paint, quirky music and tattered armchairs you can look down on the hubbub of Shanghai Lu in the encroaching summer heat, lounge outside in an armchair and easily wile away several hours surrounded by vegetation and intermittently pawed by the resident tabby. A large Americano is 22 RMB, a Latte or Cappuccino only a few kuai more. Specials include a curiously popular dessert named 'Bread Temptation', which is essentially half a loaf of bread, scooped out, lightly toasted and refilled with ice-cream.
Reason to go: Great patios on two floors, surprisingly calm and perfect for people watching with a delicious selection of iced summer drinks.
Add: 82 Shanghai Lu, Gulou District, Nanjing.
Tel: 025 8324 4617
Opening hours: 11.00 - midnight
4) Sir CoffeeView In Map
If you're looking for cheap, quality coffee, but haven't got time to sit down and chill out, head to one of these great takeaway coffee bars. Although both have seating, space is limited so you're often better off just grabbing a brew to go. With decent cup sizes, some interesting coffee additions, and freshly ground coffee, these two small joints are the best places to grab a coffee before a lecture, on the way to work, or for an afternoon pick-me-up. An Americano is just 7 RMB, a Latte or Cappuccino only 9-10 RMB, so Sir Coffee is perfect for those caffeine fiends without the finances to fund it.
Reason to go: Extremely cheap, fast and good quality coffee served up by friendly staff.
Add: Nanxiu Village, Hankou Lu, Gulou District, Nanjing (opposite AJ's)
Add: Zhujiang Lu, Gulou District, Nanjing
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