Header image courtesy of @egg_k10 (via Instagram)
Hong Kong has seen a huge influx of cafés within the last year or two, ranging from romantic pastel-toned IG spots with picture-perfect confections to minimalist all-black coffee shops serving hand-drip brews against industrial interiors. Among these diverse offerings, we’ve noticed that many hybrid cafés have popped up, whether they’re coffee joints that turn into bars at night or more unusual combinations, like tattoo parlours that also do a mean latte. Read on to find out the coolest and most creative hybrid cafés in Hong Kong.
Logically, a café-bar just makes sense—especially in a city like Hong Kong, where businesses need to maximise their earnings to offset the sky-high rent. Happily, there are many cafés that go from slinging flat whites to cocktails with aplomb, proving that “going from day to night” is a quality that befits more than just a versatile outfit.
One of our favourite examples—that also happens to boast gorgeous sea views—is Rest Coffee Gin in the West Kowloon Cultural District, where staff whip up espresso tonics and gin and tonics under a chandelier of strung-up glass bottles. A similar coffee-and-gin concept can be found in the artsy district of Sham Shui Po, at the keto-friendly (and pet-friendly!) So Coffee & Gin. Occupying the space of an old family-run sewing machine company, So Coffee & Gin operates simultaneously as a hip spot for brunch, coffee, and drinks, as well as a miniature museum of sorts for sewing paraphernalia.
Hop across the harbour to check out the Dio, a café and wine bar named after the Greek god of wine, in Noho. Sip on single-origin coffees (made with locally roasted beans) during the day, and boutique wines by night. If you fancy something other than vino, co-founder Nick Tse (of the highly respected Bar Buonasera) has curated a menu of affordable, eminently drinkable cocktails. If you’re partial to a canelé or two, head over to Barcode on Glenealy for a cup of joe and an “angel’s bell.” After 6 pm, the party continues behind a secret door, where expert bartenders whip up cocktails from a menu crafted by co-founder and head mixologist Gagan Gurung (who you may know from the nearby Tell Camellia).
So Coffee & Gin, 221 Lai Chi Kok Road, Sham Shui Po
Rest Coffee Gin, Shop G/F–04, Art Park, West Kowloon Cultural District, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2697 8938
Dio, 49 Gage Street, Central | (+852) 9199 3596
Barcode, Glenealy Tower, 1–3 Glenealy, Central | (+852) 6661 3161
Who would have thought you could get a latte, a slice of cake, and a new tattoo all in one place? Opened by acclaimed tattoo artist Nathalie Tali—formerly of Mofo Tattoo—Zizizi appears at first glance to simply be a chic, South Korean-inspired café featuring mid-century modern furniture in a bright, minimalist space. Behind the glass brick wall, however, you’ll find a tattoo studio where Tali or her fellow artists Rika Loli and Sharon Mong ink intricate designs onto customers’ skin. In fact, the café’s social media handle (Ziziseng) refers to the sound that a tattoo gun makes while it’s on, with “zizi” referring to the buzzing, and seng (聲) meaning noise or sound.
If you’re not on the market for some new ink, the café’s Lotus Biscoff latte ($48) and cinnamon roll bagel ($45) are both well worth making a visit for, while those who are lucky enough to catch the limited-edition Lotus Biscoff cheesecake should not pass up the opportunity to taste the decadent treat.
Zizizi, 1/F, 22 Kimberly Street, Tsim Sha Tsui
Yau is a new social enterprise café-slash-massage parlour operated by the Hong Kong Blind Union. Fittingly for a business that takes its name from the Chinese word for rest (休; yau1), Yau is a zen, Japanese-inspired space replete with blond woods and tatami seating.
Besides employing visually impaired baristas and massage therapists, Yau’s inclusivity also extends to its baked goods—which are sourced from visually-impaired bakers—and the physical menu itself, which comes in braille for visually impaired customers.
Nibble on braille cookies from Codekey Cookies or indulge in a slice of double chocolate cake from Baking in the Dark, and wash it all down with a mocha ($45) or matcha latte ($58). For optimal relaxation, book an appointment (link in Chinese) for a head, shoulder, and neck massage (available in 20-, 30-, 50-, or 60-minute sessions) with one of their therapists.
Yau Café (休), Shop 1, 1 Sai Yuen Lane, Sai Ying Pun | (+852) 3611 9693
For a duet to work, you need two elements that are different enough to contrast with each other, but able to work together in harmony. At the aptly-named Duet in Whampoa, the two halves in question are Duet Cups (a café) and Duet Cuts (a hair salon). The former occupies the front half of the shop and the latter, the back; a sleek colour palette of grey, black, and white ties the entire space together.
The café side—which is managed by award-winning barista Jaco Chu—boasts an expertly curated selection of single-origin beans, including the coveted Colombian pink bourbon varietal, from three artisanal roasters. Besides espresso and black and white filter coffees, you’ll also find a concise menu of savoury fusion dishes like Nyonya laksa prawn fettuccine ($108) and creative sweets like the whisky ice cream croffle ($68), which is itself a hybrid. Over on the salon side, Duet’s founder and director, commercial hairstylist Adam Hui, works his magic snipping, dyeing, and treating customers’ ’dos with premium Aveda and Milbon hair products.
Duet Cups, Shop 28, Pebbles World, 120 Baker Street, Whampoa, Hung Hom
Shisha and coffee might not seem like an obvious match at first, but at quirky street style-inspired Yiu Yao, which offers coffee, tea, beer, shisha, and food, it works. Bathe in the blue glow of the neon shop sign as you sip on an Americano ($30) or Vietnamese-style egg coffee ($48) and wait for the staff to set up a shisha pipe (starting from $300) of your choice. The space, which doubles as a pop-up venue, often hosts markets and other events under hip hop- or sports-related themes.
Meanwhile, in Soho, Mono Lab offers a more secluded space to smoke; if the weather permits, the outdoor terrace with its views of Tai Kwun and Central is a great place to enjoy a single-origin coffee or chat over shisha with some friends. For something a little different, try the signature fruit bowl shisha, where the coal is placed on top of fruit like bundled cucumber batons or a halved watermelon for added flavour and aroma.
Yiu Yao, 8 Chan Tong Lane, Wan Chai
Mono Lab, 7/F, 31–33 Hollywood Road, Soho, Central
Code while you drink coffee at Preface Coffee, a pair of cafés run by the coding academy of the same name. As cafés that are designed to function as educational spaces, Preface lends itself well to customers looking for a quiet place to work, providing ample seating, power sockets, and “beefy bandwidth.”
Both the original Tin Hau branch and two-storey Central branch often host coding classes, though the Central location—which also serves as a wine bar at night—also hosts tech workshops and other events.
Preface Coffee, Parkview Centre, 7 Lau Li Street, Tin Hau | (+852) 2777 7821
Preface Coffee & Wine, G/F & UG/F, The Loop, 33 Wellington Street, Central | (+852) 2421 0010
Tick off your to-do list and get a caffeine hit in all at the same time at Hong Kong’s café-slash-laundromats, both of which are (naturally) located in the hipper-than-thou Western District. The OG café-laundromat, Coffee & Laundry, was co-founded by famed sign-painter Katol Lo (a.k.a. Katol One), whose artistic vision for the shop has led to cool collaborations and exhibitions with the likes of comic artist Little Thunder, tattoo artist Louie Ming Chun, and more. Grab a bottle of Little Thunder cold brew
Just a few minutes’ walk away is Clean, a newly opened sustainable laundromat and coffee shop. Occupying a corner spot on Queen’s Road West, this bright and cheery shop draws customers in with its terracotta walls and airy, open shopfront. In an effort to be as sustainable as possible, Clean’s founders have opted for commercial-sized machines with extra-large drums, so that you can wash more laundry in fewer loads—not only that, but the washing machines are set to only offer energy-efficient cold water washes and dispense a pre-set amount of eco-friendly detergent, so as to reduce waste.
Coffee & Laundry, Shop 1, 1 Queen Street, Sheung Wan
Clean, 100 Queen’s Road West, Sheung Wan
Adding a little artsy flair to the quiet stretch of Queen’s Road West is Artzbrew, a café and art gallery operated by acclaimed local roasters Colour Brown. In a way, Artzbrew marks a return to form for the two-storey space, which used to be the digs for 3812 Gallery.
On the ground floor, you’ll find the sunny café, serving up light vegetarian-friendly fare and colourful drinks inspired by famous works of art. Meanwhile, the gallery space upstairs plays host to a diverse roster of exhibitions, with the inaugural show being an abstract, modern multimedia show by Vinn Feng, while the current show features the whimsical, anthropomorphic animal-human cartoons of Japanese artist Keigo.
Artzbrew, 118 Queen’s Road West, Sai Ying Pun
For a spot of shopping along with your coffee and cake, head to Yukkuri, an antique store and café in Kowloon City. Founded by a quartet of creatives who run antique stores, curated lifestyle stores, and handmade accessories brands, Yukkuri is a haven for design enthusiasts. Peruse antique metal display cases, handmade ceramics, and vintage curios before you settle down for a Yukkuri cake set ($80) and black sesame hojicha ($55).