It all started with the coronavirus panic. Your workplace enforced a work-from-home policy. You’ve been stuck in your flat for weeks now with nary a living person to interact with. Your Nespresso capsules are also running out, and you’re getting worryingly familiar with the food delivery drivers who service your area.
Time to nip out and decompress before the cabin fever gets any worse. But where to go that isn’t packed with the heaving throngs, any of whom might well be a carrier of the dreaded COVID-19 virus?
We’ll let you in on a few of our favourite cafés and coffee shops to go to that aren’t usually packed with customers, some because they’re not very well-known yet, and others because they’re in locations further out from the city. You can thank us when you’re fully caffeinated.
Designed to bring a bit of New Zealand wilderness to Hong Kong, Pimary has evolved from a knick-knacky treasure trove in Causeway Bay and a store of eco-friendly products in Sham Shui Po (with an eventual move to the Mills in Tsuen Wan) to its current life as a lifestyle concept space-cum-café in Tai Po. It’s a confusing journey to follow, for sure. All you need to know is: this hidden gem is tucked away in a two-storey vintage house with a herb garden and a rooftop for events.
Aside from stocking a range of sustainable homeware and farm-to-face wellness products, Pimary also hosts like-minded residence creators and artists who showcase their work in the space as well. Tuck into a coffee or their range of herbal teas from New Zealand, browse their selection of books and ‘zines, and feel the stress of city life slip away in this little slice of a green oasis. Note that Pimary is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Pimary & Co., 25 Lo Tsz Tin Village, Tai Mei Tuk, Ting Kwok Road, Tai Po | (+852) 2408 8938
Obviously named for the Japanese pronunciation of coffee, CoHee is a local speciality coffee roaster as well as coffee equipment store, with a sister company CoHee Cafe & Bar in Tokyo. Originally an online store, they now have a permanent home in Yuen Long’s Kam Tin village, done up in a minimalistic manner of muted greys and light wood with monochrome furniture. There is a list of food to go with the drinks; we highly recommend Hokkaido Scallop, Salmon Roe, Scrambled Egg & Onion on Toast ($78) and Duck Breast, Avocado, and Yuzu Sauce on Toast ($78).
Additionally, coffee lovers will go nuts for their wide range of single-origin coffee beans and professional coffee accessories. The store also conducts workshops for hand-drip coffee brewing, espresso and latte art, coffee cupping, home-roasted coffee, and more.
CoHee, 152 Kam Tin Shi Street, Yuen Long | (+852) 6344 5575
The name of this cafe in a quiet area of Prince Edward is so apt for the times—everyone’s nerves are a bit frazzled at the moment, so some spiritual feeding and soothing would be much appreciated. Feed Your Nerves is decorated with lots of wood and dried flower accents; the overall effect is somewhat similar to stepping into a sepia-toned photo, quiet and calm.
They serve a rotating menu of food and drinks, and quite a lot of seats have plug sockets, so you might just find yourself spending your entire work-from-home day here. We’d recommend tucking yourself away upstairs for an added level of quiet.
Feed Your Nerves, 434 Portland Street, Prince Edward | (+852) 2673 4722
Shek Kip Mei is one of those rare neighbourhoods in Hong Kong where you still won’t find massive shopping malls or chain high-street retail. This small pocket has somehow evaded the clutches of capitalism for now and has retained a sense of neighbourhood and community now difficult to come across. It only makes sense that the area has since attracted a hip artsy crowd.
The Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre was a former factory building that has been revitalised and now contains art studios, galleries, and even a black box theatre—and Café Golden. Friendly with a distinctly grass-roots vibe, their beans are house-roasted and leans towards being acidic. Their Fujisan Oat Milk ($48) comes in layers of light blues within a conical glass to resemble the eponymous Mount Fuji—very Insta-worthy!
Café Golden, Unit 5, Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre, 30 Pak Tin Street, Shek Kip Mei | (+852) 2408 8255
First-time visitors often stumble across Mr Cardigan when cycling along the Tai Mei Tuk trail. They call themselves a plant house, which is apt as the entrance is chock-full of vegetation and cacti—succulent lovers will be unable to resist taking pictures.
The entire coffee shop is housed in the shell of a converted container and a recently-added roof extension allows for a patio area with seating, creating the perfect place to while away a nice afternoon. Mr Cardigan also hosts classes on organic farming for those looking to live a greener life. It’s a bit of a shame that the place only operates on Saturdays and Sundays.
Mr Cardigan, on the corner of Shan Liu Road and Ting Kok Road, Tai Mei Tuk, Tai Po
This chic and beautiful café was established to preserve the memories of eclectic Kowloon City, and pretty much looks like a snapshot of the past. Tai Wo Tang was actually a historic family business dispensing traditional Chinese medicine, spanning three generations of physicians.
After the closing of the old TCM business, the site was acquired in 2018 and converted into a nostalgic coffee shop that has retained much of Tai Wo Tang’s decoration.
Nestle yourself between a medicinal cabinet that is almost a century old, old-school metal shutters, wooden benches, gold-painted store signage, and more while chowing down on a Vegetarian Full English Breakfast ($108) or treat your sweet tooth to a homemade Red Date Hawthorne Cheesecake ($68). Visiting this place makes for a quaint trip down memory lane, especially for older Hongkongers.
Tai Wo Tang, 24 Nga Tsin Long Road, Kowloon City | (+852) 2623 2006
Boasting panoramic views of Hong Kong Island across Victoria Harbour, Rest Coffee Gin—as the name suggests—is a place to chill with coffee by day, but when night falls, it undergoes a transformation into a gin bar. There is no drinks menu; customers sniff at a range of beans laid out and make their selection, along with their preferred serving method, ranging from milky lattes or hand-dripped to espresso tonics.
Everything on sale is carefully curated and available for customisation; they even have three types of matcha powder from Kyoto to choose from for matcha-based drinks! Come nightfall, nearly a hundred types of gins can be paired with roughly eight kinds of tonic for the perfect G&T combination.
Rest Coffee Gin, Shop G/F–04, Art Park, West Kowloon Cultural District, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2697 8938
Tucked into an unassuming side alley just off of Third Street, Congteakafe is best known for their all-day breakfasts, served either Western- or Hong Kong-style. This cosy joint also has lunch sets averaging $58—an absolute bargain for the location—as well as afternoon tea sets. The interior decoration is nothing to wax lyrical about, but the grub is good at a decent price, and if you grab a stool to sit outside, it’s a great place for a bit of a gab sesh with a cup of freshly-brewed joe or a nostalgic glass of iced Ovaltine.
Congteakafe also operates a Sheung Wan location on the quiet street between Man Mo Temple and the Tai Ping Shan precinct, where they dabble in next-level pineapple bun burgers, creating sandwiches with fillings like chicken and cheese fish fillet! While the interior decoration is nothing to wax lyrical about, the alfresco seats are the perfect spot for a bit of afternoon people-watching.
Congteakafe, locations across Hong Kong