The story of Why 50 involves four people:
John Harmide – French, pilot, food lover.
Yat Chun – Hong Kong, barista, formerly of two of our favourite cafes in Hong Kong, Bakery Cafe and Arabica (which channels some serious Japanese decor vibes and a smooth but strong espresso).
Susanne Lee – Hong Kong, previously of the charity industry/management/marketing.
Shinta – Indonesian, Johan’s wife, tea master.
These four crusaders have formed Why 50 on Hillier Street in Sheung Wan with a vision to bring together many facets of Hong Kong life, from graffiti to simple yet tasty food to the perfect shot of espresso.
So, why “Why 50”?
With coffee, professionals always say 18 grams is the perfect ratio for a espresso shot. Which is why you’ll see “18 Grams” in Hong Kong and other 18 grams related coffee shops around the world. But, how many coffee beans are used exactly in a shot? Upon counting, it was found 50 beans go into a shot, and so the name was created.
The name goes deeper, and ties into an ethos which honours the farmer. Coffee farmers spend huge amounts of effort, time and energy on planting and day by day, year by year they only harvest the mature coffee cherries, selecting the right beans by hand in order to keep the highest quality.
Thinking more deeply about it, this means “50” beans are needed to create one espresso shot. How many espresso shots are pulled in Hong Kong each day? And how many coffee beans does the farmer therefore need to harvest for our enjoyment?
Prompting customers to think further about what they’re consuming, Why 50 want to connect the coffee farmer to the roaster to the barista to the patron. And that is why 50!
Within the coffee shop, the espresso is the highlight of course, brewed by the coffee machine made by industry giants Slayer and roasted by the coffee scientist Keith Fong from Bloom Coffee House in Macau.
See more: The Best Coffee Shops in Hong Kong
Besides what the food, loose leaf teas and coffee served, Why 50 are seeking to do something for our HK artists. At the entrance a cement wall forms a space for any kind of creativity, offered free of charge. Even famous artist struggle to promote their work in Hong Kong, especially given the illegal nature of artwork being displayed in a public area. A program named “Book Your Wall” will give the opportunity to whoever, whether an artist or not, can draw their your own message/design on their wall. The only thing you have to do in exchange is leave your name on it.
A coffee shop with soul and intent, we look forward to trying this new kid in the (coffee) grind.
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