Flashback to 1995, and the esteemed Frederik Balfour penned an article detailing Hong Kong's slow rise to sip a decent quality cup of coffee. Speaking with Mr Balfour in one of the very coffee shops listed below, we reveled in the many ways and means of caffeinating one's self in the city nowadays.
Ever since we posted the last article, outlining 17 of the best coffee shops in Hong Kong, the number has nearly tripled since then, so we thought it's about time we let you in the loop of some of the newer (and amazing) places in town.
We've organised them by location as best we can, starting in Sheung Wan and spreading outwards.
Good coffee is always found here, and they have actually proven so popular that to maintain full hipster credentials, they had to move to the south side. More to come on that shop as you keep scrolling.
The outlet on Gough street is behind a clothes store, and has a delightful little outside area from which you can sip your coffee. Further, the café-meets-indie-store is becoming famed for their ice-cream sandwiches. They change the flavour every weekend and they’re usually combinations like pistachio and chocolate cookie, egg nog ice cream & chewy cookies with dark and white chocolate shavings, peanut butter ice cream and chocolate honey & oats crunch, and Hong Kong style Milk Tea and white chocolate flakes. Creative, indulgent, and the best weekend treat.
11 Gough Street, Sheung Wan
There was an outcry when this one was not included on the first coffee list. Dogs howled, families paused, children wept into their babychinos. Barista Jam are worth their chops and have Japanese siphon coffee, french press, hand grinders, machine grinders, aeropress, moka pots and every other method of brewing coffee imaginable. Don't hold business meetings here though, there are often many startup founders here who are on the prowl for good ideas.
126-128 Jervois St, Sheung Wan
Mixing Bowl started with two home bakers, one from Canada and one from England, self-taught with a passion to share this gift. They now teach classes out of the space at night, but by day a sweet cafe reflecting this honesty is in operation. Great breakfast, like our personal favourite the smashed avocado on toast, and coffee can be found here, as well as some of the best bread in Hong Kong, plus their delectable cinnamon rolls (or scrolls, if you are from Australia).
5 Shin Hing Street, Central
Owners Marcus and Eugene (who notably know precisely what direction they’re taking, being from the West Coast themselves and with vocations as an Economics Professor and Accountant at KPMG respectively) have carefully curated and designed furniture and settings that reflect the cool of California in this artist's haven (pictured below). They are also the only ones to stock Blue Bottle coffee, which will cause coffee aficionados from the States to rejoice. A cup of this will whisk one back to San Fran, or even Brooklyn.
1 U Lam Terrace, Sheung Wan
Home of the two time barista champion of HK, and aforementioned 4th place winner of the international barista championships in Seattle, you can be sure these guys do good coffee. They have a simple décor, and the servers are very friendly, they offer bonsoy and simple but tasty breakfasts like scrambled eggs on sourdough for less than $100. 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.
Shop LG/F, 299 Queen's Road Central, Sheung Wan
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.
26 Upper Lascar Row, Sheung Wan
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.
11 Upper Station Street, Sheung Wan
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 is 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.
72 Po Hing Fong, Sheung Wan
They've got espresso from Rwanda and coffee filters from Ethiopia. Market Lane is the chosen bean and it is from that coffee mecca in the south, Melbourne. They also considerately offer a decent chai for the less coffee inclined (power to you for reading this far down the list), Prana Chai, a personal favourite of ours made with 100% black Ceylon tea, cinnamon, cardamom, fresh ginger and Australian Bushland honey. Note: homemade gingerbread men have been rumoured to make an appearance from time to time but we don't guarantee anything.
Shop F2, LG/F, 33 Hillier Street, Sheung Wan
This neighbourhood cafe offers favourites as well as speciality drinks such as almond milk coffees and kefir smoothies. They have been hot favourites for events of the past month, including our Foodie Market.
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.
120 Connaught Road West, Western District
An outdoor laneway is perfect in the warmer months, and they keep coming up with funky flavours like sea salted caramel pancakes topped with homemade banana jam. Throw in a cup of coffee, warm hosts, and all day breakfast, and you are set to go. It is also really pleasant to be away from the main roads and opposite a basketball court. It's that community feel you know..?
Shop 22A, Po Hing Fong, Sheung Wan
These guys afford you the chance to sit on giant steps out the front of their cafe. 17 hipster points for you Common Ground. The tranquility of Shing Wong Street is overly inviting for a breakfast date on the weekend. They also do cool things like this pop up with our dear friend Eat Ethio, the star of the Feb issue and fellow lover of standout coffee, primarily of the Ethiopian variety.
19 Shing Wong Street, Sheung Wan
Aimed at being the local, or as the name would suggest the kitchen cafe around the corner serving simple but comforting food, this eatery situated across from Hollywood park is all kinds of inviting. The upstairs proves hip for meetings and even better for watching the little peoples beneath go by. Their soy flat white is solid, that we can vouch for, and they serve their iced latte in a glass mug. To boot, they are subtly zealous for nutrition, and will employ stealth nutrition wherever possible. We like that.
226 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan
The Why 50 name came as a result of the coffee shop owners’ intent of paying homage to coffee farmers, those at the very origin of the supply chain. It is based on the idea that 50 coffee beans go into a shot of espresso and when you take into account the number of espressos that are served a day just in Hong Kong alone, you can imagine the sheer amount of sweat and dedication coffee farmers put in everyday just to make your morning routine cup of coffee possible. Apart from a brilliant name with a profound meaning, Why 50 also serves amazing espressos, unsurprisingly, by the coffee machine made by industry giants Slayer and roasted by the coffee scientist Keith Fong from Bloom Coffee House in Macau.
27 Hillier Street, Shop E, G/F, Sheung Wan
Arguably the best coffee in a 20-block radius, owner Herbert Lau learnt from his time working at Coffee Academics that Italian coffee has the best flavour and intensity for him personally, and so set up shop in Kennedy town serving coffee prepared with a manually operated lever espresso machine and imported Italian-roasted Musetti beans.
Yue On Building, 78-86 Catchick Street, Kennedy Town
Tucked away on a street of building merchants and mechanics, this has become a quiet success story. With a bounty of magazines available, wifi, and a full menu of every kind of sweet and savoury topping you can think of for your classic waffles, this is a nice spot for some “me time”, or an afternoon with friends. But be warned – it’s always busy at the weekends and they only take reservations for parties of six or more.
Shop 9, New Fortune Hse, 4-8 North Street, Kennedy Town
Still with us? That was only the west of the island...
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 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 homemade cookies, as well as Bonsoy, which makes them ideal for a business lunch too.
Zai Fe; 1/ F Terrace, No.73 Wyndham Street, Central
Having celebrated their 2nd birthday in December last year, this is a cult favourite with many drinkers of the coff in HK, and even more so given they distribute the blessed bean in store also. Japanese drip coffee is a must here, and if you are into variety then you will be pleased to note they have a coffee of the week to keep things fresh. Here is a video with questionable music to further explain their vibes (note** do not play this without headphones in the office, lest your colleagues believe you to be watching something questionable):
Sitting in a Fuel Espresso bar feels all at once modernist, classical, aesthetically pleasing and underground, even as you sit in the middle two of Hong Kong's poshest malls. Within walking distance of one another, this is a rich, design led coffee house emulates dark New York interiors with smooth jazz constantly reverberating and a coffee that is quite sublime. Although one of the more pricey choices when it comes to a cup of coffee, the surrounds make it totally worth it.
Shop B47A, The Landmark, Central & Shop 3023, IFC, Central
Not a new concept but under new management and name, Zenon is a little haven for those who are waiting hours for their entourage to get their hair done. Located under the Tony & Guy salon on Wellington Rd, and previously encompassed under the umbrella of Pacific Coffee, their branding and funky new interior is set to bring with it happy coffee times.We have not yet actually tried the coffee so the quality is yet to be validated, but what we do know is they have a panel of staff who are experienced in coffee making matters. And they do takeaway. Great coffee to go!
86 Wellington Street, Central
A venture that began in expectation of filling the unmet need of a solicitous, locally roasted bean coffee shop in Hong Kong, Filters Lane sits snugly in Mid Levels on Caine Road. This little haven of a coffee shop seems a tad intimidating with the large contraption that occupies the spot visible from the front window, which upon entrance to the store becomes immediately clear is a roasting machine. The subsequent rich aromas of rich, heady coffee scents pave the way for a masterful cup of coffee (and they have Bonsoy–bless!).
FYI** We did a full review of these guys that you can read here because we really really like them.
111 Caine Road, Mid-Levels, 半山堅道111號
These guys care a lot about their coffee. Their fourth outlet (another in Central, one in Wan Chai and one in Kowloon West), they have unreal design and very high quality coffee. A menacing magical three-headed Black Eagle coffee maker in use, and obviously is used to magnificent ends given the latte art they are skilfully executing. Drip coffee is also available.
The coffee here is an off shoot of the one found in Discovery Bay North Plaza and in Kyoto; Arabica. Serving what is our favourite roast in Hong Kong(a blend of three Ethiopian coffees roasted in Discovery Bay), the baristas are experts and take latte art to a new level. The décor is feminine, and the lighting needs a little adjusting as the fluro light from the kitchen clashes with the interior sitting area, but the donuts are fresh and made daily, as are the cupcakes and assorted other bakery treats.
East Island (Wan Chai/Causeway Bay/Tai Hang/Fortress Hill)
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.
Shop 8, 4-6 Hoi Wan Street, Quarry Bay, (MTR Exit A)
G/F, Convoy, 169 Electric Road, Fortress Hill, (MTR Exit A)
A coffee house and roaster, these guys are scientific about their coffee. To quote them;
they will focus on the aromas and tastes of it, but to us, sometimes it's more similar to looking at a computer screen, checking whether a certain desired elements inside the coffee beans have been maximized, and did the undesirables have been eliminated. It's like computer programming.
Throughout their explorations they have come to deduce what it is that makes a fantastic cup of coffee, and employ these methods in crafting something that is rather exceptional.
3 Landale Street, Wan Chai
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 is awakened at the familiarity and evident high quality beans. They use Bonsoy, monthly single origin beans, and a Chemex brewer. They specialise 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 a go to.
Yen May Building, 15 Swatow Street, Wan Chai
On 31 – 35 Tang Lung Causeway Bay (same street as Jamie’s Italian and the other restaurants in Midtown building), this offshoot of the popular Wan Chai flagship (closed at the moment but in lieu the CWB outlet is in fine working order) is decorated tastefully and serves an exceptional cup of coffee. Opening hours are from midday to ten pm, and have epic coffee treats like the matcha cookies, and lavender & white chocolate scones, made with whole wheat flour, honey and lavender from a neighbouring shop. They also do fun things like second-hand markets & art jamming; which is super.
31-35 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay
Famous for their espresso, unique cube-shaped baked custards, and Japanese tea ceremony-like experience, Omotesando Koffee was a huge, huge hit back when it was in Tokyo before the shop closed in December 2015. Hong Kong is the cafe's first international outpost and retains much of the original store's minimalist design along with its signature products.
Shop No. 24-25, G/F., Lee Tung Avenue, No.200 Queen's Road East, Wanchai
Not only did they help in drawing epic crowds at the Foodie Market, but they seem to have the midas touch when it comes to all things consumable. Everything they put their hand to, from soups and salads that combine flavours so dangerous you will need to light a cigarette after such a liaison, grilled cheese sandwiches with three types of cheese or a humble coffee, it's all gold. The coffee is what we are here for though, and the warehouse surroundings make this Ottolenghi meets barista championships meets warehouse party cafe a real gem.
Unit D, 22/F, Yally Industrial Building, 6 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang
Tree, even by itself, is a legendary idea. Yes Nicole Wakley, we would love a beautiful, sustainable and comfortable home living store here in Hong Kong. Kudos to you for following that dream. Add a coffee shop up on the 28th floor overlooking the beautiful (on a good weather day) seas and decent coffee, organic juices, homemade cupcakes, cookies, the lemon cheesecake or criminally rich chocolate brownies plus much, much more, and some free wifi, you'll probably never leave. Which is probably quite well played, given you are in a furniture store.
28F Horizon Plaza, Ap Lei Chau
If you have not heard of these guys then dishonour on you.
Particularly as we just mentioned them at coffee shop number one. And on our list of life changing foods for under $100.
Elephant Grounds Kitchen is a bigger and more food-centric than the Sheung Wan manifestation, with the same reliably good coffee and edgy vibe/decor. The espresso blend is one consisting of earthy Sumatra, Papua New Guinean which add layers of complexity and Brazilian Arabica that completes the blend with nutty flavours and gentle acidity. They now have a branch in Causeway Bay too.
1/F, The Factory, No 1 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong
These guys have been on a rampage and have opened another two stores this year in addition to the Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and TST outlets, one in Repulse and one in Wan Chai. 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.
Five locations in Wan Chai (x2), Causeway Bay, Repulse Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui. All can be located here.
The North (aka Kowloon/The Darkside/Nine Dragons)
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, and many an overseas guest have commented on the high quality of this coffee when we have sent them over.
21 Hak Po Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong (MTR Mong Kok Exit E)
Single origin beans, coffee workshops, a house-blend that is smooth but punchy. You can also do an espresso tasting set for $68 which allows for width of perspective in the coffee world.
If you are still not convinced watch the video of their baristas making coffee....
284 Temple Street (Near Austin Road) Tsim Sha Tsui
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, they also have some great snacks including vegan ice cream Happy Cow and lentil bolognese. Perfect for your lactose free soul.
Shop H2, Properous Garden, 3 Public Square Street, Yau Ma Tei
This place is super great, and kinda reminds you of friend's cozy DIY home, if your friend was ultra-trendy, had an eye for interiors and enjoyed a nice wooden crate or nine. A hybrid cafe/gallery/florist, if you are into design and aesthetics and like flowers and coffee, this would be a great place to hang out. They have many a brew to sample, like the popular Doctor Ng that has caramel and toasted almonds tasting notes. Afternoon cakes, fine coffee and some nice teas, this is a place to bag a bunch of flowers and a caffeine hit.
62-64 Flower Market Road, Prince Edward
This cafe (pictured below) was a discovery that graced us as though from the firmaments. Only new (they opened in the last quarter of 2014), the crew here range from baristas to chefs, the owner originally from San Fran (the name gives nothing away). They have great coffee and lovely food and host appealing events like stand up comedy with Vivek Mahbubhani, and have an all day breakfast that goes all day long, with is like the antithesis of Lionel Ritchie's 80s hit, but with just as much fun.
201 Tai Nan Street, Sham Shui Po
Freshly roasted coffee beans, expert baristas, and a typically cool decor, this coffee shop is a gem amidst the laneways of Sai Kung village. They serve breakfast/brunch and are open everyday from 10am (and 9am on weekends). Warm, affable service and the best espresso you will find in Sai Kung is here at Colour Brown.
34-36 See Cheung Street, Sai Kung
KELLY & MOSS is a lifestyle company providing organic, natural and local products in their cafe, catering, events and retail business. Their coffee is what is worth the trip, but their ethos is what will make you a rapid brand zealot. The concept is to keep our world sustainable, yet still be able to maintain high quality products, and all the energy they consume comes clean from the Zero Carbon Building's own bio-fuel generators. They will often change with the seasons, as evidenced by the (pictured below) caramelized organic muscovado sugar latte.
Zero Carbon Park, 8 Sheung Yuet Road, Kowloon Bay
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 they do great latte art too; natch.
Shop 10, G/F, Fu Loy Garden, 7 Ma Wang Road, Yuen Long
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 nine 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.
Locations in Sheung Wan, Central, Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, TST, Mong Kok, and Sai Kung
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.
Discovery Bay North Plaza
We daresay we have overlooked many amazing coffee haunts, and for this we apologise and seek your assistance. Foodies are coffee-ies and if you are in the know about a cafe with a fine brew then we would love to hear about it. Leave a comment below and share the java love. #favehkcoffee