It all began with dancing goats. Or so the legend says. An Ethiopian goat herder noticed his goats became frisky after eating the coffee cherries from a local shrub. He wanted to dance too, so he downed some of the berries, caught the buzz and partied until the sun came up. African tribes then started to combine the cherries with fat to form little balls of energy. Thanks to the cherries, coffee is actually considered a fruit, although it is much better known for the caffeine it contains. Caffeine is a stimulant that acts on the brain in the same way as heroin and cocaine, though with much milder effects. Caffeine effectively bumps up the levels of the body’s natural antidepressants, serotonin and dopamine, leaving people feeling happier and more empathetic. No wonder it became the daily drinking fuel of the future.
Hong Kong Island
The Cofftea Shop
Owner Herbert Lau learned from his time at Coffee Academics that Italian coffee has the best flavour and intensity for him, so he 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, 9104 2404
Tucked away on a street of building merchants and mechanics, this has become a quiet success story. With a bounty of magazines available, Wi-Fi 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.
Shop 9, New Fortune House, 4–8 North Street, Kennedy Town, 2855 8890
This teensy café is beloved for its passionate baristas, aromatic roasts and tasty evening espresso cocktails.
Shop 4, 213 Queen's Road West, Sai Ying Pun, 2559 5078
The Hideout Coffee House HK
This little local has got that cool community vibe going that makes you want to hang around and pretend to work.
Shop B, 63 Third Street, Sai Ying Pun, 2858 1012
Brew Bros Coffee
They've got espresso from Rwanda, coffee filters from Ethiopia and their chosen bean is from Market Lane Coffee in Melbourne. Tasty brunch options too.
Shop F2, LG/F, 33 Hillier Street, Sheung Wan, 2572 0238
Their outdoor laneway is perfect in the warmer months, and they keep coming up with funky dishes like sea salt caramel pancakes topped with homemade banana jam. Throw in a cup of coffee and all-day breakfast and you’ll be a regular.
22 Po Hing Fong, Sheung Wan, 2547 4149
This is a treasure of a café sitting atop Pier 8 in Central – beautiful brews, charming staff and a sunny terrace to enjoy your cuppa. It's also part of a collaboration with The Nesbitt Centre to employ baristas with learning disabilities.
Central Ferry Pier 8, Man Kwong Street, Central, 3713 2500
Worth their chops with their Japanese siphon coffee, French press, hand grinders, machine grinders, AeroPress, Moka pots and every other method of brewing coffee imaginable. Be careful if you hold business meetings here though – there are often start-up founders on the prowl for good ideas.
126–128 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan, 2854 2211
The outlet on Gough Street is nestled within a clothing shop and has a delightful little outside area from which you can sip your coffee and indulge in one of their famed ice cream sandwiches. You can also find them in Causeway Bay, Wanchai and Wong Chuk Hang.
11 Gough Street, Sheung Wan, 2253 1313
The Roaster SteP by SteP
It’s almost the worst thing to reveal this place’s location as their coffee is so nice that we want to keep it all to ourselves. Enjoy their delicious brews and the education they give you with each cup’s origins when you visit. They have a load of bakery treats too – and waffles, did we mention the waffles?
26 Upper Lascar Row, Sheung Wan, 2880 0052
A killer courtyard on a quiet street in Sheung Wan and a beautiful bakery next door. We recommend coming early, because getting a table here on a weekend can be a fight.
72 Po Hing Fong, Sheung Wan, 6716 7005
This quirky café is the only one to stock Blue Bottle Coffee here in the 852, 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, 2540 2210
The Cupping Room
Home of five-times Hong Kong Barista Champion, World Barista Champion 2nd place in Rimini, Italy, and recent winners of the Hong Kong Brewers Cup and World Brewers Cup 4th Place, you can be sure these guys do good coffee. A constant inflow of people who do their work here because they are 'creatives' (read: freelance and don’t have an office) means an always buzzing environment.
LG/F, 299 Queen's Road Central, Sheung Wan, 2799 3398
Opendoor Cafe + Courtyard
This neighbourhood café offers coffee favourites as well as speciality drinks like almond milk coffee, kefir smoothies and options like cauliflower fried rice for the vegans/paleos out there.
120 Connaught Road West, Sai Ying Pun, 3460 3880
These tranquil steps up Shing Wong Street were made for sitting, and that is precisely what you can do over a cuppa at this cool community café. Truly beautiful food and decor too.
19 Shing Wong Street, Sheung Wan, 2818 8318
Amazing espresso made with a sweet Slayer machine, roasted by coffee scientist Keith Fong from Blooom Coffee House in Macau.
27 Hillier Street, Sheung Wan, 6532 4161
This little haven of a coffee shop showcases a large roasting machine in the window that produces heady coffee scents, drawing in all who pass by.
111 Caine Road, Mid-Levels, 2517 1868
These guys care a lot about their coffee. They’ve won multiple awards and have opened their fourth outlet (another in Central, one in Wanchai and one in West Kowloon), and they have an unreal design and very high-quality coffee. A magical three-headed Black Eagle coffee maker is used to magnificent end, given the latte art they skilfully execute.
50 Stanley Street, Central, 2663 2884
Redback Specialty Coffee
Bagels and muffins and beautiful brews from former World Latte Art Champion, Scottie Callaghan at affordable prices! It's not a dream, it's a cool cafe where the team roast the coffee fresh every weekand they're open from 6am for a perk up and open late so you can also drink wine til the wee hours.
38-42 Peel Street, Central
Hazel & Hershey
This is a cult favourite with many java drinkers in HK, even more so given they distribute the blessed bean in store. Japanese drip coffee is a must here, and if you are into variety, you'll be pleased to note that they have a 'coffee of the week' to keep things fresh.
69 Peel Street, SoHo, Central, 3106 0760
NOT Specialty Coffee
This sweet little spot is hard to find, and for those who like to continue their coffee education, these coffee purists aren’t afraid to tell you how you should take your brew.
Unit 3, 353 Lockhart Road, Wanchai, 2151 3822
This utterly strange café is next to Seoul Bros and constantly sports queues out the door of the tiny lane it inhibits. Cats in the doorways, cats cradled in the arms of the baristas, postcards sold and stamp collections displayed, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for a bite, but it is an interesting place to stop in for a fruit tea, coffee or fruit soda to sip over a perplexed expression.
Shop D, On Lok Lane, Wanchai, 3702 1078
J.CO Donuts & Coffee
More about the doughnuts than the coffee, but if you find yourself with a morning sweet tooth, this place’ll do the trick.
Shop 1 and 2, 55 Hennessy Road, Wanchai, 6982 8282
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 café's first international outpost and retains much of the original shop's minimalist design along with its signature products.
Shop 24–25, Lee Tung Avenue, 200 Queen's Road East, Wanchai, 2601 3323
This place will transport you to an Australian coffee shop with its fresh food, single-origin beans, homemade desserts and even a craft beer or two.
15 Swatow Street, Wanchai, 2362 1899
The Coffee Academics
These guys have been on a rampage and opened another two stores last year. 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.
38 Yiu Wa Street, Causeway Bay, 2156 0313
Unar Coffee Company
Tough to get a seat owing to their sought-after Italian beans, you’ll find this place littered with people outside loitering on benches and tall tables looking cool and sipping slowly.
15 Sun Chun Street, Tai Hang, 2838 5231
A small institution, with another little shop in TST, this small-batch speciality coffee roaster is dedicated to sourcing and roasting superior Arabica coffee beans from select origins. They also boast a World Barista Championship judge amongst the staff and take their coffee prep seriously.
Shop 8, 4–6 Hoi Wan Street, Quarry Bay, 2613 2638
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 and brunch with warm, affable service and probably the best espresso you will find all the way out there.
G/F, 10 Kwun Chung Street, Jordan, Kowloon
L203, 2/F, Star Annex, Star House, 3 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Tom N Toms Coffee
This peculiar little Korean place in The ONE sells the best little thermos we’ve found in this fair town and the coffee is good too. The very eclectic menu includes freshly baked pretzels, Chinese desserts, granola and garlic bread, as well as Indian naan. It’s strange, but it’s strangely good too.
Shop L121, 1/F, The ONE, 100 Nathan Road, TST, 2811 8951
They define themselves as '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 this bookshop/café/cinema is a mecca for those who like to seek out interesting literature whilst waiting for their indie film to start, sipping single-origin beans. Half the shop is a bookshop merged flawlessly with a café that is attached to a cinema that plays both quirky and mainstream flicks.
Shop H2, Properous Garden, 3 Public Square Street, Yau Ma Tei, 2384 8929
Knockbox Coffee Company
More of a secret society than a coffee shop, they have a weekly public function called 'coffee premiere' where local coffee enthusiasts gather and taste unlimited brewed coffee from 6:30-10pm. Particularly proud of their coffee in its original form, consumed plain, without sugar or milk. Diehard.
21 Hak Po Street, Mongkok, 2781 0363
Single-origin beans, coffee workshops and a house blend that is smooth but punchy. You can also do an espresso tasting set for $68 to broaden your coffee palate and ensure a jittery afternoon.
284 Temple Street, Jordan, 2793 3480
Kelly & Moss
Their coffee is worth the trip, but it's their ethos that will make you a brand zealot. The concept is to keep our world sustainable yet still maintain high-quality products, and all the energy they consume comes clean from Zero Carbon Park's own biofuel generators.
Zero Carbon Park, 8 Sheung Yuet Road, Kowloon Bay, 2529 9001
This might remind you of friend's house, if said friend was ultra trendy, had an eye for interiors and pillaged for wooden crates. A hybrid café/gallery/florist, if you're into design and aesthetics and like flowers and coffee, this would be your ideal cafe. They have many a brew to sample, such as the popular Doctor Ng with its caramel and toasted almond notes.
62–64 Flower Market Road, Prince Edward, 2397 0638
Great coffee and lovely food in Sham Shui Po. Here they host entertaining events like stand-up comedy and offer an all-day breakfast that will keep you going.
201 Tai Nan Street, Sham Shui Po, 6305 1887
Far Out & Southside
A gander at the team’s credentials looks like a trophy room, with 'world champion siphonist' just one of the many accolades. Make the trip and you'll be treated to brew-tiful beans and some great latte art too.
Shop 8, Fook Cheong Building, 21–27 Ma Wang Road, Yuen Long, 9430 1433
Their space is extremely funky, and they provide a 'barista experience' where they teach you how to grind beans, pull espresso and make a proper latte.
Shop G08, G/F, Discovery Bay North Plaza, 92 Siena Avenue, Discovery Bay, 2885 1312
Everything they put their hand to – from soups and salads to grilled cheese sandwiches made with three types of cheese – it's all gold. The coffee is what we are here for though, and the warehouse surroundings are the cherry on top.
Unit D, 22/F, Yally Industrial Building, 6 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang, 3462 2951