Header image courtesy of @das.bottle (via Instagram)
Having lived in the southern area of Hong Kong for more than 20 years, I think that it is very often misrepresented as full of affluent homes buzzing with expats. Its residents are, in fact, a mix of locals and expatriates, and the neighbourhoods boast diverse sceneries ranging from old fishing village buildings in Aberdeen and refreshed industrial quarters in Wong Chuk Hang to high-rises in Ap Lei Chau and Tin Wan. In my opinion, they are the backyard gardens of Hong Kong Island. Nestled behind the hills, the Southside embraces the South China Sea magnificently.
Unsurprisingly, the Southside also plays host to Hong Kong’s burgeoning coffee shop scene, home to a number of undiscovered gems. Here are the best cafés & coffee shops you should visit on Hong Kong’s Southside.
Located in the old main street of Ap Lei Chau, AP Coffee stands out from the crowd with its modern and simple entrance in-between traditional local shops. Small and cosy, it is furnished with a minimalist feel, enticing you to a coffee break during your discovery of the Southern District. Stop by for a macchiato ($30) and a warm chocolate muffin ($25), and let the bitterness balance out the sweetness. Other notable dishes served at AP Coffee include an all-day breakfast ($108), the banana bread ($40), and the unusual Nutellalalalatte ($43).
AP Coffee, 54 Ap Lei Chau Main Street, Ap Lei Chau | (+852) 9884 9231
Carved into an old residential building on the corner of Ap Lei Chau’s main street, Mad Three (叄瘋) exhibits a passion for coffee and Taiwanese cuisine, presenting customers with industrial décor of cold concrete walls in a muted shade of grey, warmed up by coloured wooden furniture in the colour of roasted coffee—how apt.
Whether you are in the area for a staycation or a local day trip, you can always pass through for a smooth flat white ($48) embellished with latte art, or a hot Taiwanese Fu Wan craft chocolate ($45) to go with an all-day breakfast ($102), served with a croissant, crispy bacon, a dash of greens, and roasted portobello mushrooms.
Spend an afternoon break sipping on a cold brew (starting from $60), accompanied by the popular pork floss & cheese egg omelette ($35)—deliciously pan-fried to be crispy on the inside, and tender on the outside. As its name describes, Mad Three is “mad” passionate about their beans sourced from all over the world, transporting you to an espresso-based coffee range with a portfolio of single-origin beans and nutty flavours.
Mad Three (叄瘋), Shop F, 132 Ap Lei Chau Main Street, Ap Lei Chau | (+852) 6773 4386
Fancy a day of shopping in Ap Lei Chau? Don’t forget to drop by Tree Café on the twenty-eighth floor of Horizon Plaza. Anchored next to the furniture store of the same name, this coffee shop extends an eco-friendly dining environment to shoppers. Dark and forest-like, with wooden furniture and sitting areas, the café offers guests a colourful Mediterranean-inspired menu, with recommended dishes like roasted vegetables with feta cheese salad ($85) and tuna mayonnaise ciabatta ($65).
For a short break from the long shopping trip in Horizon Plaza, treat yourself to the palatable pecan tart ($60) and an astringent espresso (starting from $25). Dibs a seat by the bench and rest your feet, framed with a superb view of the South China Sea, before continuing your search of hidden household gems.
Tree Café, 28/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau | (+852) 2870 1586
Continue your café hopping at Whiskers N Paws Café, also in Horizon Plaza. Decorated in bright birch wood, this is the perfect place for pet lovers and their four-legged pals, as Whiskers N Paws Café is one of few pet cafés on this side of Hong Kong Island. Serving vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based foods, the Impossible nachos ($78) and WNP Impossible burger ($118) are part of the carte du jour, not to forget the usual caffeinated drinks.
While you tuck into a plant-based meal, your dog can take pleasure in a pooch-focused menu, featuring the “cheesebarker” with pooch cookies ($48) and the pooch cookies box ($32). A dairy-free, soy-free, and gluten-free ice cream—the Happy Cow ice cream ($36)—can battle the heat of the summer, and your canine companion can delight in the pet-friendly Hugo & Celine dog ice cream ($88) after mingling with friends.
Whiskers N Paws, 10/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau | (+852) 2552 6200
Hidden on the fifteenth floor of a contemporary office building overlooking Wong Chuk Hang, Africa Coffee & Tea transports you to the African continent for an afternoon. Wooden furniture and vibrant décor are the main themes, reminding you of the natural earth tones of the African forest and savannah. Brightly coloured cushions and a mix of fabrics, textures, masks, and paintings propel you into a visual safari.
Sustainably grown coffee beans from Africa, which support the work of local women, are the highlight at Africa Coffee & Tea. Have a taste of the single-origin coffee ($70) from Uganda, which balances spiciness and boldness with a note of dried plum and chocolate. If you are in the mood for a rolex—not the Rolex watch, but a homemade Ugandan chapatti wrap—opt for the trendy plant-based rolex ($98) with smooth hummus, roasted sweet potato, and tofu chunks. Enjoy it all with a cup of tea from their selection of African tea leaves.
Africa Coffee & Tea, Suite 1501, 15/F, 41 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang | (+852) 2180 7536
Located in the industrial district of Wong Chuk Hang, Sensory Zero’s high ceiling, spacious dining area, and floor-to-ceiling windows promote a convivial atmosphere. Oozing Japanese canteen vibes—from ordering at the cashier to sitting down at large, shared tables—this modern coffee shop encourages an environment of self-service, from picking up your orders at the counter to returning used trays after your meal.
Opt for a weekday lunch combo (starting from $107), as Sensory Zero is a great destination for a mid-day meal with colleagues or getting some work done on your laptop, all whilst sipping on a balanced iced Americano ($40). Don’t miss out on their adorable cat toast with homemade jams ($38) and the deliciously juicy lemon raspberry muffin ($38), paired with a robust hand-drip single-origin coffee ($75).
Sensory Zero, Shop G01, One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang | (+852) 2511 6011
Concrete floors, bold green walls, and octagonal tables ferry you back to the nostalgic fishing village culture of Aberdeen and the sampan boat stories of yore. Inspired by the calligraphy graffiti of the “King of Kowloon,” Neighbourhood Coffee’s takeaway paper coffee cups captivate you with their design and embolden you to explore the fascinating art and its stories. As its name conveys, Neighbourhood Coffee was created by the neighbours for the neighbours, a place to take a relaxing break with coffee or tea.
Enjoy an intense piccolo latte ($40) with a crunchy croissant ($28), all while contemplating the wire fish cages hang from the ceiling and imagining the stories behind them. Neighbourhood Coffee’s hand-written English menu invites you to explore their specialities. A meal of refreshing smoked salmon with avocado on sourdough ($88) washed down with the delicate rose latte ($45) is not to be missed.
Neighbourhood Coffee, Shop 2, ABBA Arcade, Aberdeen | (+852) 9500 0051
Black Cherry Coffee’s stone-walled entrance, engraved with a Chinese character logo, blends harmoniously into the local neighbourhood décor of Tin Wan. Snag a stool on the outside of the café and people-watch while indulging in a well-balanced flat white ($38) or a hand-drip coffee with selected beans ($55).
Small but cosy, a chat with the owner—who is also the barista—allows you to glean the latest news about the neighbourhood and recommendations for places to visit. Boasting homemade ham & cheese croissants ($28) and blueberry muffins ($20), Black Cherry Coffee is a true gem, and the perfect destination for a quick breakfast or a snack while touring the Southern District and learning more about coffee from the owner.
Black Cherry Coffee, Shop 6, Silver Mansion, 81 Shek Pai Wan Road, Tin Wan | (+852) 3686 0423