If your go-to coffee in Hong Kong is still Starbucks or Pacific Coffee, then you’re sorely missing out. Over the past decade, coffee culture has enjoyed a steady growth in the city, which now boasts barista champions, record-breaking purchases of high-end coffee, and a thriving speciality scene. With artisanal coffee shops popping up left, right, and centre, we take a look at five of our favourites for those of you who are serious about your java.
The Coffee Academïcs
When it comes to local coffee brands, few are as successful or impressive as The Coffee Academïcs. Since their inauguration in 2012, these guys have been setting the standards for coffee in the city. Head roaster, Ed Lam, was crowned Regional Roasting Champion three years in a row (from 2011 to 2015) while senior coffee roaster, Stephen Yau, is a certified Q-grader – a person certified by the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) as capable of analysing Arabica coffee through smell and taste. Not only that, the rest of The Coffee Academïcs coffee team are all experienced and certified coffee masters, so needless to say, they take their coffee very seriously.
The beverage menu here is extensive and unique, with the crowd-pleasing Ice-drip Coffee ($98) arriving in a wine glass. This smooth and refreshing brew is a must-try for any die-hard coffee addict. The coffee chain also offers smooth, full-bodied pour overs for $68, with various speciality beans to choose from.
NOC Coffee Co.
Co-founded by the winner of the 2011 Hong Kong Barista Championship, Chan Chak Sum, and F&B veteran, Benny Leung, NOC offers some of the best coffee in town. The brand has various branches around Hong Kong, but serious coffee drinkers will fall in love with the third and largest outlet, NOC Coffee & Roaster, which roasts beans on site to ensure optimum freshness.
The coffee shop is famous for its creamy Flat White ($35 to $48), which is said to be one of the best outside of Australia. With the premium sourced coffee beans and strict brewing methods on offer, however, you really can’t go wrong. Whether you order a rich and smooth espresso blend or an artsy latte you order, you’re in for a treat. The team here also offer a different selection of single origins every week, so if you’re interested, you can have a chat with the friendly baristas who will help you pick out a bag of beans to take home.
Apart from the standard black or white, cold brew, and pour over, NOC offers a concoction of ice-cold milk and steaming hot double ristretto called the NOC Dirty ($40), and the NOC Fizzpresso ($55), which is a combination of double espresso, passion fruit, lemon juice, and tonic water.
NOC Coffee & Roaster, Shop 4, G/F, Bohemian House, 321 Des Voeux Road West, Sai Ying Pun, (+852) 3611 5300
Amber Coffee Brewery
With its confined space and limited seating, Amber Coffee Brewery isn’t a place you can linger for long. But for serious coffee drinkers, this minimalist haven on Des Voeux Road in Central is an essential destination. The founder, Dawn Chan, is a two-time champion of the Hong Kong Barista Championship, 4th place winner of the World Barista Championship, and a veteran of The Cupping Room, where he worked before launching his own cafe.
At Amber, Chan presents his unique brand of eccentric coffee creations, serving everything from his awarding-winning coffee, the Amber ($70), infused with pineapple juice, beer hops, and earl grey tea, to a speciality House Black ($36 hot, $45 cold) served in hand-painted cups. Single origin coffees are the highlight of this impressive coffee bar, but the award-winning founder and barista also offer a different signature drink each month.
Amber Coffee Brewery, G/F, 142 Des Voeux Road Central, Central, (+852) 3106 0872.
Urban Coffee Roaster
Urban Coffee Roaster is the creation of two coffee enthusiasts and licensed Q-graders, Horry Cheung and Gary Au. Located in Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui, and the unique caged-home hostel, Wontonmeen, in Prince Edward, its cafes are regular hangouts for both locals and tourists.
The focus here is on the single origin, speciality grade espressos, espresso-based drinks, and filter coffees. The house blend, which is served black or white, changes from time to time, but the cafe also offers roasts from far-flung corners of the globe such as Costa Rica, Ethiopia, China, and beyond. Each coffee can be served filtered ($68) or in a method known as 1+1 ($88).
Coffee aficionados can also get a monthly coffee-bean subscription service for $698, which gets them six boxes of beans (200g) over the course of six months, or $1,298 for 24 boxes of beans (200g) in a year. If you’re looking for a quick weekday caffeine fix, you can also purchase the cafe’s locally roasted beans as well as individual drip bags or coffee bags.
The Cupping Room
It would be a crime to speak of coffee in Hong Kong without mentioning The Cupping Room. Named after a process used by coffee roasters to judge coffees side-by-side without bias, the cafe has earned itself a reputation for being one of Hong Kong’s finest. The owner, Kapo Chiu, came second place in the World Barista Championship in 2014 and third in 2017, and other team members have bagged multiple awards.
With several locations dotted around Hong Kong, The Cupping Room offers a myriad of filter coffees and espressos from around the world, including Africa and Central America. The Espressos and single origin Filter Coffees ($50 to $100), which rotate weekly and are brewed to order, have been dubbed as some of the best in Hong Kong. Coffee lovers can get a taste of this award-winning coffee by ordering a Geisha Filter Coffee ($100), or opting for a comforting cup of Flat White ($38).