Header image courtesy of @hunger.food (via Instagram)
Most people say that the world is obsessed with Australian coffee culture, but we’d say that’s just because they have not yet set foot in one of Hong Kong’s outstanding cafés. Small as the city may be, our neighbourhoods are brimming with boutique coffee shops, and new openings are popping up across Hong Kong every week. Join us as we follow the irresistible waft of freshly ground coffee beans to the latest and greatest café and coffee shop openings in Hong Kong.
Once home to the disreputable Kowloon Walled City and now a haven for a smattering of vibrant Thai restaurants, Kowloon City is an overlooked hidden gem that is experiencing its moment in the sun.
Over the past few years, discerning small businesses have moved into the neighbourhood, revitalising it in the process, and one such newcomer is Sofi Coffee, a minimalist coffee shop that conducts its brewing behind bamboo blinds—very mysterious.
Its interiors are not much to speak of—bare concrete walls, tiled floors, dim lighting, a monochrome colour palette that borders on the Brutalist—but it does make for a pleasant and quiet pit-stop after lunch.
For caffeinated beverages, take your choice between popular offerings like the hand-whisked matcha ($65) and the iced hand-drip coffee ($75)—shaken, not stirred. Pair your drinks with sweet treats like the tofu cheesecake, served with a black sesame sauce, and the velvety tiramisu ($58) that melts on your tongue.
Sofi Coffee, 428–430 Prince Edward Road West, Kowloon City | (+852) 2363 6898
Nestled between visually loud neighbours with their frenetic neon signs is After Eightys, a tranquil refuge for those needing to escape the jam-packed streets of Mong Kok.
Taking a leaf out of the TARDIS, it’s much bigger on the inside than you would expect, boasting an L-shaped layout that curves around the back of the shop—perfect for those wanting to sit down for a quiet meal away from the stares of passers-by.
Combining elements of industrialist chic (read: a quasi-mosaic wall made of cinder blocks) with sleek wooden furniture, we would call the décor incongruous at best, but touches of greenery help to pull the eclectic components together.
Notable dishes on their menu include the chicken & waffle ($68), drizzled in maple syrup and served with a lime-infused sour cream sauce, and the signature Oreo cookie waffle ($88), toasted to perfection with crisp edges and a black sugar mochi filling. If you want to expand out of the list of common coffee items, opt for their strawberry & cheese smoothie ($42) instead, which has a creamy and yoghurt-like consistency.
After Eightys, 27 Soy Street, Mong Kok
Fancy a trip out to San Po Kong this weekend? Make sure to stop by Snooze Coffee, which has made a home for itself in this up-and-coming New Kowloon neighbourhood.
It’s not much more than a takeaway coffee corner, offering only a few high stools for those who would like to rest their feet, but if you arrive early—or wait long enough—you’ll get front-row seats to watch the expert baristas work their coffee magic.
Snooze Coffee might take a bit of effort to find, as it’s tucked inside a housing estate, but you can reward yourself with a robust dirty ($38) once there, paired with a slice from their daily cake selection ($48). Beans are sourced from Kyōyū Coffee Roastery, with blends from Indonesia, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and more.
Snooze Coffee, Shop 899, Rhythm Garden, 242 Choi Hung Road, San Po Kong
Another Japanese-inspired teahouse has moved into the increasingly hip neighbourhood of Prince Edward. Operated by the folks behind Brew Note Coffee Roaster, Chew Chew offers a tranquil destination for Hong Kong’s café hoppers, fuelled by a seasonal food menu and matcha-forward beverage programme.
From locally farmed produce to house pickles and a farm-to-table approach, Chew Chew takes a thoughtful and wholesome approach to all aspects of its business and is winning legions of fans in the process. Interestingly, you will not find coffee at Chew Chew, as it focuses almost exclusively on unique tea-based drinks.
Although there are bar counter seats aplenty, we recommend sitting in the private booths for the full experience, which are floored in tatami (畳) and replete with chabudai (ちゃぶ台; a short-legged Japanese table) and zabuton (座布団; Japanese cushion). Booking ahead of your visit is required and can be done online.
Chew Chew, G/F, Konwall Court, 143 Lai Chi Kok Road, Prince Edward
We do love us a well-designed café that straddles the line between a vintage furniture store and an urban jungle, and Le Jardin à Soho does not disappoint. Its jade green walls are instantly recognisable and beckon to be photographed, while the flora-filled interiors exude a sense of serenity.
From lunch and afternoon tea all the way to happy hour and dinner, Le Jardin à Soho caters to all occasions, but we would time our visit for golden hour when one can soak up the fading sun on the streetside bench seats.
With an extensive drinks menu that runs the gamut of tea, coffee, liquor-infused coffees, cocktails, spirits, and more, it can be difficult to choose your poison, but we’d recommend the strawberry latte (starting from $42) or the sesame & charcoal latte (starting from $42) for something special. Pair it with savouries like the classic Reuben sandwich ($98) or desserts like the crêpes Suzette with vanilla ice cream ($68) for a sweet finish.
Le Jardin à Soho, Shop E, G/F, 36–36B Staunton Street, Central | (+852) 6601 8126
Is it a plant nursery or is it a coffee shop? Loop Kulture in Sham Shui Po seems to pull off both things, and also throws a zero-waste grocery store into the mix for good measure!
Furnished with found items like burlap sacks, crates, and mix-and-match chairs, Loop Kulture aims to promote a closed-loop lifestyle, combining sustainability with coffee shop culture to emphasise the need for environmental awareness. Come through for their Western-inspired café fare and browse the organic and package-free products on the shelves while you’re at it.
Instagram foodies are heaping praise upon Loop Kulture’s indulgent caramelised banana pain perdu ($98)—and yes, it tastes as good as it looks—and the smoked salmon with poached egg toast ($98). Come early to try their signature coffee, the Loop ($55), where you can customise your desired richness and flavour by pouring the coffee and coconut milk yourself over a homemade coconut ice ball—it’s limited to just 30 cups per day!
Loop Kulture, G/F, 90 Apliu Street, Sham Shui Po | (+852) 6015 5409
Less is more at Minimal, where the name of the (interior design) game is to make full use of a neutral colour palette and natural elements to create a sophisticated space. You’d be surprised at how well Minimal rises to the challenge—by decking out the modern dining room in decorative ring lights, wooden furnishings, potted plants, and a wall installation that doubles as Instagram bait (you’ll know it when you see it).
Food- and drinks-wise, their flavours are anything but minimal, opting to go big or go home with dishes like deep-fried sourdough toast with smashed shrimps & yuzu mayonnaise ($92), pulled pork waffle with barbecue sauce ($95), sous-vide top blade steak ($128), and porcini, onions & mushroom gemelli ($95). Add on a Baileys latte (starting from $44) and a cheesecake parfait ($68) for a well-rounded meal.
Minimal, G/F, 121–123 Apliu Street, Sham Shui Po
Last but not least, there’s Coffeeflow, nestled within the historic Jao Tsung-I Academy in Mei Foo. Over its century-old past, this collection of squat structures has worn many hats—a hospital, customs station, prison, rehabilitation centre, and more—and now acts as a heritage hotel as well as a venue for multi-disciplinary arts. Is it any wonder then, that a modern café concept should move in to attract even more visitors to this marvellous architectural relic?
Coffeeflow operates as a café, workshop venue, gift shop, and every Instagrammer’s dream. Weave your way through a dense curtain of ivy (that will be your first photo spot, by the way) to unearth cosy interiors, furnished in a charmingly mismatched fashion that would not look out of place in a vintage shop.
Snap away for your feed, then sit down for a meal of lobster roll with salad ($88) and black truffle crab dip ($88), paired with Coffeeflow’s signature espresso on rocks ($30) or chamomile oolong tea ($40).
Coffeeflow, Shop 1 & 3, G/F, Jao Tsung-I Academy, 800 Castle Peak Road, Lai Chi Kok