Header image courtesy of @kennethtjon (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.
Inspired by Raymond Carver’s acclaimed short story A Small Good Thing, this newly opened café in Kennedy Town is inspired by the act of finding beauty in life’s simple pleasures during otherwise bleak times.
In keeping with its emphasis on simplicity, this small, minimalist nook of a shop offers a pared-down selection of coffee drinks, with only three main options—black, white, or filter, starting from $38—listed on the wall. The beans, which come from Australian roasters Dukes, are sourced from reputed coffee producers like Colombia and Ethiopia.
In a departure from the spate of independent coffee shops that only offer espresso-based or hand-drip coffees, Small Good brews its filter coffee in a top-of-the-line Moccamaster, meaning that you can grab a quick cuppa joe without having to wait around for gravity to do its thing. That being said, if you have the time to spare, you can still request a pour-over coffee—it’s a pleasure best savoured with one of their freshly baked caramel canelés ($38).
Small Good, 175 Belcher’s Street, Kennedy Town
Yes, this new Sham Shui Po café has the same name as the famous dessert bar in New York—but that’s where the similarities end. Hong Kong’s Milk Bar is a minimalist two-storey space where everything—from the décor to the mini glass milk carton they serve their strawberry milk ($60) in—looks like it came straight from a cute little café in Seoul.
Their other drinks, like the summer blue soda ($55) and pastel purple sweet potato latte ($60) are similarly trendy, and pop beautifully against the spartan white and cement-grey interiors. Settle in with one of the signature croffles (a croissant-waffle hybrid, starting from $45)—we like the Nutella one—and keep an eye out for adorable dogs sitting outside their chic white shopfront.
Milk Bar, 79 Apliu Street, Sham Shui Po
With its relaxed ambience, wide coffee selection, and international food menu, Coast is a bright and spacious neighbourhood café that looks to be Tin Hau’s next great brunch spot. Located just a stone’s throw from the temple that gives Tin Hau its name, Coast’s neutral colour palette and striking modern shopfront set it apart from the real estate agents and tyre stores surrounding it, while ample sunlight and a leafy plant-lined entrance give it an Antipodean warmth.
Coffee fanatics who bemoan new openings for prioritising style over substance will find little to complain about with Coast’s menu. Besides the standard selection of espresso drinks, there are uncommon options like cascara (coffee cherry tea) tonic ($45) and a dedicated hand-drip section with single-origin beans from Costa Rica, Honduras, and Panama.
On the culinary front, the café’s food menu includes affordable fusion plates like tom yum risotto ($88), shakshuka ($88), and osmanthus pork neck toast ($88), as well as sweet treats like canelé ($22), cold brew panna cotta ($45), and a pistachio tart with seasonal fruit ($58).
Coast, 17 Tin Hau Temple Road, Tin Hau
With its large glass shopfront and warm, plant-filled space replete with terrazzo finishes and blush tones, this pet-friendly café is an inviting little oasis on the ground floor of a relatively unremarkable office block. Furnished in shades of earthy terracotta pink and sage, with a chilled out playlist of R&B in the background, Lorway is presented according to the exact tastes of its owner, Loraine. (Get it? Loraine’s way.)
Bring a friend (of the human or canine variety) along for a dirty ($40), some avocado toast ($52), and a warm scone ($20) with jam. If you’re after something more substantial, their generously portioned smoked salmon & cream cheese bagel ($68) and spaghetti carbonara ($62) have both been well-received by café-hoppers.
Lorway, Shop B3-A, 22 Hoi Wing Road, Tuen Mun Central Square | (+852) 5546 4723
Joining the growing collection of hip cafés in Sai Kung old town is NN, whose name stands for “No Nationality”—a moniker inspired by the founders’ belief that they should not be constricted by regional influences. It’s only been open a few weeks, but the two-storey café has already drawn hordes of visitors with its globetrotting brunch menu and bright, roomy space.
Pull up a chair on the spacious second floor and peruse the extensive food menu until something catches your eye; so far, the French toast ($98) with mixed berries and caramel popcorn has been a hit, as has the orecchiette with sausage & ‘nduja ($118).
As for the coffee, all the beans are sourced through Ninety Plus coffee from international coffee producers and roasted locally—and we’ve got our eye on the barista’s special espresso tonic made with Kambera Panama Gesha beans and balanced with rosemary and lime.
NN, 47 See Cheung Street, Sai Kung
As suggested by its name, Natura is all about bringing customers closer to nature; founded by the professional florists behind Origami Florist, this light-filled space in Wan Chai is bedecked with gorgeous floral installations. The installations will change based on the seasons, with the inaugural display featuring a pink cherry blossom- and cloud-inspired design entitled “Drops of Sakura.”
The emphasis on nature doesn’t just stop there—the food menu, which was developed with health and eco-friendliness in mind, showcases largely plant-based fare (made with locally sourced ingredients where possible). While there are plenty of savoury plates and beverages to be had, we’re of the opinion that the dessert section is where Natura shines. Try the burgundy waffle ($168) with fresh fruit or adorable log-shaped chocolate timber ($68) topped with faux mushrooms.
Natura, Shop 1 & 2, Tai Tung Building, 8 Fleming Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2816 1601
Veering sharply away from the predominant trend for all-white interiors, this pet-friendly café in Yuen Long has embraced a colour palette of sunny yellow and moody grey, injecting its concrete-heavy industrial space with an uplifting sense of cheerful brightness.
Pick from standard coffee drinks like flat whites, cappuccinos, and lattes (all $35) or more creative concoctions like the Fruit Bomb ($50), a cold brew topped with foam and mixed dried fruit, or Roasted Orange ($60), featuring charred orange, chocolate, and espresso.
If you’ve got room for more than just coffee, Proton also offers a range of fusion-style dishes, including the ever-popular all-day breakfast ($128), clam pasta aglio e oglio ($128), and Proton pancake delight ($148) featuring a trio of mini pancakes with different toppings, including foie gras and caviar.
Proton, Shop 3, Yuen Tat Building, 81–85 Kau Yuk Road, Yuen Long | (+852) 9413 1131
For a quick pitstop and refuel in Tsim Sha Tsui, pop along to BeansTrip on Hillwood Road. No, this isn’t another movie about Mr Bean’s shenanigans abroad—in fact, BeansTrip is a rather subdued and boxy little café, with stark white stuccoed walls casting a dramatic backdrop against carafes of cold brew. According to the founders, a coffee bean, whether good or bad, is simply a journey (or trip, if you will) to be enjoyed—hence the name BeansTrip.
While BeansTrip does have a few sweets on offer, the star of the show here is the coffee—from espresso-based drinks like the orange black ($50) to single origin pour-overs or house-blend cold brew ($60). Those who struggle to find an adequately spiced cup of masala chai around Hong Kong should try a cup made with the vegan-friendly, unsweetened chai concentrate stocked here, which packs a punch with hand-ground spices and black tea.
If you subscribe to a zero- or low-waste lifestyle, don’t forget to grab some of the free coffee grounds that offered to all customers—they can be used for anything from composting to making lip and body scrubs, natural deodorisers, and more.
BeansTrip, Shop B2, 15 Hillwood Road, Tsim Sha Tsui