12 Mins Read
We are delighted to share this fantastic guide from our friends at Foodie, Hong Kong’s authority on all things delicious. Enjoy!
Coffee. It is not an easy task, any longer, to brag that you have finally found a good coffee joint in this city. In fact, picking one now is like choosing your favourite child. Both disconcerting and open to judgement if you give an honest answer. If you are lucky enough not to be surrounded by insert chain coffee store here and its ubiquitous outposts, you probably have a favourite caffeine stocked café in your local neighbourhood or near the office. The Google machine can often be the best source of information, but there are so many blogs it can be hard to use just one. For some reason even Beanhunter, an ordinarily faithful companion and sage guide, has also seemingly rebelled in Hong Kong, and so perhaps we shall seek elsewhere for this specific locale.
There are many new ones, which we have tried to focus on, but there are many who are really dedicated to sustainability, aesthetics or high quality roasting, so we have kept them in also. With many quasi-vegans (and real ones, come to think of it) getting about, soy milk was also a big one for us, and given how many lactose free 852er’s there are getting about now, milk alternatives in coffee shops are a must as any frequenter of New York, London, Melbourne, or Vancouver knows. We had Americanos (Long Blacks for the Southern Hemispherians), double espressos and soy flat whites to try and gain an objective and fair yardstick for quality. Vibes have also been taken into account, as we know the pure joy of settling into a chair or bench for the afternoon with a good book and a mug of joe. Oh and wifi! Because that’s pretty much the first question we ask as we walk through the door, and is the first tier on Maslows’s updated hierarchy of needs.
More of a secret society than a coffee shop, they’re open everyday, but Friday night explore the wonders of specialty coffee. They have a weekly public function called “coffee premiere” where local coffee enthusiasts gather and taste unlimited brewed coffee from 6:30-10pm. They are rather orthodox about their coffee; serving standard portions of milk in a latte or a piccolo (which is 3:1 milk:coffee). What they are proud of, however, is coffee in its original taste, cosumed plain, without sugar or milk. Diehard. The first qualified Q-grader for coffee in HK is the owner, just fyi…
Wifi yes; http://knockboxcoffee.hk/; Ground Floor, 21 Hak Po Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong (MTR Mong Kok Exit E); Mon-Sun: 11AM-10PM.
2. Cafe Loisl (Now Closed)
Hidden on upper Pound Lane, Cafe Loisl is a vegetarian/vegan joint with organic coffees and amazing care taken to ensure each sip is as enjoyable as possible. Everything here is meticulous and since it resembles a European bistro, quite relaxing. The nearest road is 100m+ in any direction, so there will be no honking or minibus revving here. They have somewhat slow wifi that lasts only 45 minutes, but this is compensated for by the abundant organic goods available for purchase (chia seeds; can’t escape ‘em) and the compelling titles stocked in their book shelf, ranging from “When China Rules the World” to “The Coming Famine” that details the looming food crisis that is upon us. Gripping!
Unfortunately, Cafe Loisl has closed since the publication of this list.
3. Opendoor Cafe + Courtyard
Recently introducing a scrummy new food menu, this neighbourhood cafe offers favourites as well as speciality drinks such as almond milk coffees and kefir smoothies. Almond milk coffee, though an institution in most major metropolitans of the developed world (and developing, to be fair)- it’s almost impossible to visit any town now without finding hipster cafes somewhere–even Ubud, Bali is on the almond milk train, Hong Kong has been somewhat on the back foot with faux-milks. Slowly ushering in an evident time of social change, Opendoor also have options like cauliflower fried rice for the vegans/paleos, and a polite graphic that informs the sipper of the coffee to milk to froth ratios their coffee will actually consist of. Overly helpful chaps.
Wifi yes; opendoorcafe.hk; G/F, 120 Connaught Road West, Western District; Mon-Fri: 8AM-5PM, Sat: 09AM-5PM.
4. Zai Fe (Now Closed)
ZAI FE meaning ‘ strong black coffee’ in colloquial Cantonese, is an Italian espresso bar coffee prepared with Hong Kong style in a creative environment. The three founders had grown tired of artificial syrups and flavors used to mask the poor quality coffee and milk, combined with the under developed barista culture. fresh coffee straight from the roaster, once rested to the lips of coffee lovers in less than 72 hours – expertly made by experienced ZAI FE basistas when the freshly roasted beans are at their peak. Their new café adjoining BoConcepts on Wyndham makes the most of the terrace and ultra-cool Danish design, which means you can enjoy your cappuccino in style while taking in the city-centre views. They serve all varieties of yummy deli sandwiches, cakes and home made cookies, as well as Bonsoy, which makes them ideal for a business lunch too.
Wifi yes; http://zai-fe.com/; 1/ F Terrace, No.73 Wyndham Street, Central; Mon – Fri 10AM – 7:30PM, Sat 10AM – 7:30PM, Sun 10AM – 6PM.
Unfortunately, Zai Fe has closed since the publication of this list.
5. Kava (Closed)
An obscurity in its location really, just two streets up from Jordan MTR station exit A, Kava is an extension of Rabbithole coffee that we all know so well from Central. It stands out quite considerably as it is very cool and a haven if looking for a place to read or catch up. It is great to know there is somewhere to adequately caffeinate oneself when traipsing about the Kowloon area, or to make into a regular haunt if that is your local hood. The coffee is a little pricier than the surrounding shops, so might attract only a narrow clientele, but said clientele will be rewarded by superb coffee that also has beans available for purchase.
Wifi yes; G/F 53 Parkes Street, Jordan, Kowloon; 2787 1833; Open 10AM – 6PM.
Unfortunately, Kava has closed since the publication of this list.
6. Café Deadend
Employing organic soy milk, baristas who are trained and can actually swirl a stunning coffee artwork, and the bakery treats from their mother next door, Po’s Atelier, Café Deadend are working the region of Sheung Wan. They have a killer courtyard as well, which in the cooler months we are approaching, will be sublime to bask in like overgrown, brunch-loving lizards. We recommend coming early though, because getting a table here on a weekend can be like trying to get through Wan Chai at the moment; close to impossible.
Wifi yes; cafedeadend.com/; 72 Po Hing Fong, Sheung Wan; Tue to Sun: 9:30AM – 6PM.
7. Nosh (Now Closed)
The open wall/window setup is a relaxing way to begin a morning, especially before the hot Hong Kong sun begins to bake us alive. Their food isn’t the most filling for the cost, but coffee is made with love and care. NOSH is owned by Swedish entrepreneurs Arne and Helen Lindman, which means they are genetically wired to produce top quality stuff like honey and cinnamon oatmeal with caramelized bananas, and a cranberry and pecan English muffin.
Wifi yes; www.nosh.com.hk; 11 Upper Station Street, Sheung Wan; Tuesday-Friday 8:30AM – 6PM, weekends 10AM – 6PM.
Unfortunately, Nosh has closed since the publication of this list.
8. Manson’s Lot
Although not new per sé, every time we walk in here we let out a shriek because it was so reminiscent of Australian coffee shops that a deeply subconscious instinct was awakened at the familiarity and evident high quality of beans. They use Bonsoy, so Bondi hipsters will be pleased, and have a range of newspapers on each table for perusal. They speciailise in artisan coffee, breakfast, homemade desserts and even a craft beer or two, plus a bunch more. So when in Wan Chai, this would be our favourite go to.
Wifi yes; Bonsoy; www.mansonslot.com/story.html; Ground Floor Shop, Yen May Building, 15 Swatow Street, Wan Chai; open everyday 7:30PM – 7:00PM.
9. The Roaster, Step by Step
It’s almost the worst thing to have to say this place’s location on the web, as their coffee is so nice, that we want to keep our local all to ourselves. But alas, in the age of information – you are welcome. Enjoy their delicious coffee and the education they give you with each cup’s origins when you visit. They have a load of bakery treats too, and waffles. With great coffee art, comes great waffles.
2880 0052; G/F, 26 Upper Lascar Row, Sheung Wan; open everyday 11AM – 6:30PM.
10. Accro Coffee
So this place is like a coffee temple in the mountains of Hong Kong. Minus the mountains. And the temple. But the same reverential treatment is expected in this brew house, as the world siphonist (a brewing technique) champion works here. Be sure to come bearing gifts and you will be treated to coffee beans from three different and quite unusual countries; Taiwan, Italy and our very own Hongkers. Locavores will be most pleased by this, and no doubt someone has alerted Rene Redzepi of Noma to the locally-sourced goodness. They do great latte art too; natch.
Wifi yes; 3484 9448; Shop 10, G/F, Fu Loy Garden, 7 Ma Wang Road, Yuen Long; Mon-Fri: 10AM – 12AM, Sat, Sun & Public Holidays: 12PM-12AM.
11. 18 Grams
Okay so they aren’t new nor are they ‘one-off’ boutiques that we indie coffee drinkers love, BUT 18Grams Alley in Sai Kung is managed by a world barista judge which is like being rated in the Michelin Guide for the coffee swillers of this world. They are also well on track for world domination; with new stores opening the last six months in Harbour City, Sheung Wan and Wan Chai. And they have organic soy milk! The Hunt Guides recognised them as “paving the way for the rest”, and we quite agree. If this was on every corner, instead of other coffee chains, we would be thrilled.
Wifi yes; 18grams.com/about-us/; locations in Central, Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, TST, Mong Kok, and Sai Kung.
12. The Cupping Room
Also not overly new, but the two time barista champion of HK works there, and they use Bonsoy for those who can’t or won’t drink normal milk. They have a simple décor, and the servers are actually very friendly which is a pleasant surprise (sidebar: a gripe of ours is those working in the customer service who evidently find odious both their customers and service. We thus really appreciate people who are efficient, and who smile). Free wifi and a constant inflow of people who do their work there because they are “creatives” (read: are freelance and don’t have an office), mean a buzzy environment that is perfect for a few hours of genteel magazine browsing or a private catch up with someone. As is the case with large talkative crowds, there is always plenty of privacy…
Wifi yes; 2799 3398; Shop LG, The Centre Mark, 287-299 Queen’s Road Central (Entrance on Cleverly Street), Sheung Wan; Mon-Fri: 8AM-5PM (closed Tuesdays), Sat: 8AM-6PM, Sun: 10AM-6PM.
13. Coffee Academics
As the name suggests they educate their customers about all aspects of their coffee-crop to cup. This is cool, because from the initial selection of coffee origin and roasting method, to the micro-tuning of blend proportion and cupping, each step is done with care, passion and an uncompromising quest for top quality. As part of their intellectual pursuit of the perfect coffee, they are always striving to find new ways of connecting with consumers, and so offer things like coffee classes from E-01 to E-05 (the zenith of coffee education being aptly titled Golden Cupping). Not sure about you, but we would love to be golden cuppers.
the-academics.com; 4 locations in Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, Repulse Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui; depending on store open 8 to 10AM until 9-11PM (aside from Causeway Bay who are wild cats and leave their doors ajar until 2AM on Friday and Saturday night; the ideal time to drink coffee!)
14. % Arabica
Opened Arabica at Discovery Bay North Plaza in February 2013, their full name is ”Arabica Coffee Roaster & Farm.” Farm because they have a coffee farm in Kona, Hawaii. They are one of rare coffee roasters in the world who actually own coffee farm. Their space is extremely funky, based on a the sister store in Kyoto (meaning it is ultra cool and ultra high quality), with white and steel setting a really urban vibe around the communal wooden table that usually plays host to the myriad Macbooks whose owners haunt the workspace. They also provide a service called “Barista Experience.” With only HK$50 for latte and HK$30 for espresso, their barista will teach you how to grind the beans, pull espresso, and make cafe latte, using Slayer Espresso. This is good news for Discovery Bay coffee.
Wifi yes; arabica.hk; Discovery Bay North Plaza; Everyday 10AM to 6PM.
So this place is awesome. They define themselves as “最新消息及發佈 A Bookshop, Café, Creative, Design, Think, A Vibrant Cultural Cinegems, Young, Force, Gift, My Gym, Elegant, Classe, A Boiling Circle.” After about the fifth descriptor, you’ve lost us, but the bookshop/café/cine gem runs true and it is a mecca for those who like to seek out interesting literature you might not find in Dymocks, whilst waiting for your indie film and sipping single origin beans. Half the shop is a bookstore, merged flawlessly with a café, that is attached to a cinema that plays quirky and mainstream flicks. A haven for students and entrepreneurs, and for those who like independent films/are artsy (or really, just anyone who can be defined as cultural), they also have some great snacks including vegan ice cream Happy Cow! AND they have organic soy milk on offer. Perfect for your lactose free soul.
www.Kubrick.com.hk; Shop H2, Properous Garden, 3 Public Square Street, Yau Ma Tei; Mon-Sun: 11:30AM-10PM.
16. Unar Coffee Company
Basically a hole in the wall for hipsters, Unar captialise on their excellent coffee skills and employ a couple of long benches outside to compliment. These are a real treat to dwell on in the current weather. Their strategy is simple yet effective, with latte art a stamp of quality that wobbles gently on top of your flat white. Set against a very urban steel-grey wall, the mini-store is delivering exactly what the people of trendy Tai Hang want; a delightful cup of coffee.
Wifi: yes; G/F, 4 Second Lane, Tai Hang; Tue-Thu: 1PM-9PM; Fri-Sat: 1PM-12AM.
17. Alchemy Coffee (aka Espresso Alchemy)
A small institution, they are a small batch specialty coffee roaster dedicated to sourcing and roasting superior Arabica coffee beans from select origins. They are also the only wholesale coffee roaster in Hong Kong to have a Licensed Coffee Grader (Q Grader certified by the Specialty Coffee Association of America) and Barista Championship Judge amongst the staff to provide unparalleled roasting quality control, coffee training and bar management. They care about important things like iron, vital air, essence, heat, water, sugar, essence and milk. Plus they run classes and are located in both Fortress Hill and Quarry Bay for all your East Island sipping needs.
Wifi: yes; www.alchemycoffee.net; Shop 8, 4-6 Hoi Wan Street, Quarry Bay, (MTR Exit A), G/F, @Convoy, 169 Electric Road, Fortress Hill, (MTR Exit A); Mon-Fri: 8AM-7PM, Sat-Sun: 10.30AM-5.30PM. Visit their new locations in Tsim Sha Tsui and Kwai Fong.
A previous version of this article appeared in Foodie. All contents courtesy of Foodie, images courtesy of Foodie, Accro Coffee, Kubrick, Cafe Deadend and % Arabica.