Cafe hopping in Hong Kong: 7 cafes you must visit
1. Urban Coffee Roaster
“A good day starts with a damn fine coffee” says the writing on the wall. And we damn well agree with that. Established in 2014, Urban Coffee has three locations across the city. When I pulled the sliding door open of this coffee shop in Tsim Sha Tsui, the scene that greeted me immediately reminded me of a hipster cafe in Melbourne. A repurposed industrial space furnished with brass tables and caged light bulbs hanging amongst the air-conditioning vents, I feel sorry for the suckers who choose Starbucks across the road and overlook this gem.
You can visit at all times of the day but we stopped by for coffee and a light breakfast. Next time we visit Hong Kong, we’ll make sure to swing by for either lunch or dessert. Our avocado eggs benny with sweet corn quinoa salad on sourdough was whipped up within minutes from the tiny kitchen box out back. We could even spy the chef through a peephole in the wall, watching videos on his phones between orders.
Quality and consistency are key priorities for UCR and the business has become a key supplier of coffee beans to businesses throughout the city. This care seems to have flown right down to their cafe business. Our flat whites arrived in tin mugs with artistic chips. We loved the fact that we were able to watch the barista carefully prepare our coffees; from grinding the beans to steaming the milk, each step was taken with meticulous precision.
Payment is accepted via cash, Octopus card or credit card. A 10% service charge is also applied to your final bill.
2. Barista Jam
Our visit to Barista Jam affirmed two things for us. Firstly, if we were to move to Hong Kong as expats, we would need to find well-paying jobs to afford our coffee addiction. And secondly, Bevan has expensive taste in coffee. Located in Sheung Wan, Barista Jam specialises in hand-drip coffee. During our visit, the menu featured no less than 8 hand-drip coffee options alongside 4 specialty ice-drip coffee choices.
Bevan opted for hand-drip coffee from naturally processed beans grown in the Chiriqui region of Panama. The coffee was almost amber in colour producing notes of passion fruit, mango, tropical fruit and caramel. Given the hefty price tag of HKD $75 (approx AUD $15), I made sure that Bevan drank every single drop!
The cafe features a gunmetal grey floor with chocolate brown wooden tables and stools. The decor is minimalist and stripped back, with the focus on the coffee. Single-origin and blended coffee beans are stacked in cylinders on one wall opposite the counter which features a small selection of pastries. Barista Jam also offers an all-day breakfast menu for those wanting something a little heartier. Free wifi and card payment accepted.
3. The Cupping Room
Since opening in 2011, The Cupping Room has become a pioneer for specialty coffee in Hong Kong. The award winning coffee roasters won Hong Kong Barista Champion in 2013 and came 2nd place at the World Barista Championship in 2014. You’ll find their shops in Central, Sheung Wan and Wan Chai. Each of the cafes feature Japanese – Scandinavian design elements and offer food menus that are influenced by the character of the local neighbourhood. We visited the roastery in Sheung Wan, a neighbourhood called home by many expats. Perching on bar stools, we sipped our cortados from handleless cups while watching their German Probat roaster at work through the glass windows behind the serving counter.
The Cupping Room responsibly sources their beans from remote locations including Columbia, Burundi and Rwanda, focusing on producing sweetness in flavour and aroma. Single origin coffee beans are used for filter coffee options while house-blend is available for espresso favourites. Make sure to check the menu for coffee tasting notes ranging from fruity (pineapple, mango, blood orange), to floral (lavender, jasmine, hibiscus) to chocolate. Oatly milk sits for sale alongside coffee beans and chocolate bars by Japanese company, Minimal Chocolate. We were pleased to note paper straws in-store too. Cash and card payment accepted.
4. The Brew Job Coffee
We found our way to The Brew Job Coffee on a drizzly morning in Hong Kong. Darting inside to get out of the rain, we entered a small cafe with seating for about 12 people. Declared the World Aeropress Champion in 2018 (Finalist in 2017), it’s not surprising to find specialty coffee options on the menu including V60, Aeropress, Ice Drip and Cold Brew. For a quirky alternative, you’ll also see London Fog Latte, Shakerato and Ovaltino Espresso as coffee options. Brew Job Coffee uses coffee beans from RoastWork Coffee Roasters, many which bear fruity and chocolate-y tasting notes. We settled down with a latte and mint mocha, the smooth chocolate flavours a welcome warmth from the chilly morning.
The Kowloon-based cafe features a washed concrete floor, stocked with steel bar stools and refurbished wooden tables. An assortment of framed black and white water paintings hang on one wall and bouquets of dried baby’s breath hang upside down from the roof. We’re guessing it’s a relatively quiet coffee shop in Hong Kong but would receive a wave of takeaway orders in the morning from the workers in the opposite HSBC building. Among the merchandise for sale, you’ll find RoastWork coffee beans, coffee equipment, almond milk and oat milk and Antipodes sparkling water from New Zealand.
5. Craft Coffee Roaster
Craft Coffee Roaster sits in a small space on the busy Tai Kok Tsui main road and is perhaps, not a place you’d sit for too long. But that’s okay when you’re drinking some of the best coffee in Kowloon. The emphasis is on the coffee, so forgive them if the decor or atmosphere is not what you may expect from other cafes you’ve visited before. Passionate about quality, sustainability and traceability, the company travels to the origin each year, visiting the farmers and producers to better understand the story behind the beans. A small sign at the counter lets you know the origin of the coffee beans currently being served and their tasting notes (to help you make that difficult decision!).
We sat at one of 3 high square tables opposite the La Marzocco machine, sharing the Espresso Combo; a single espresso and 5oz cappuccino. During our visit, we noted that it’s one of the only coffee menus we came across offering Americanos and Affogatos. For something a little different, Craft Coffee offers the “Orangicano” – an Americano blended with hints of orange and basil. Considering ourselves coffee “purists”, we gave this one a miss – but if anyone does try this option, be sure to let us know!
6. NOC Coffee - Graham Street
Design lovers and the aesthetic-obsessed should make a point to visit a NOC Coffee location. Consideration and attention to detail is given to each aspect of the business; the interesting cafe spaces, efforts to eliminate single-use plastic, the use of organic ingredients in their food menus and roasting coffee beans on their Dutch Giesen coffee roasters – the business’ actions and mission are certainly admirable.
We visited the Graham Street location on a Saturday morning. Nabbing the outside table with a couple of friends, we had prime vantage of the farmers’ market lower down the street. Our lattes were brewed with house blend No. 18, promising strawberry, sweet biscuit and milk chocolate flavours. Next time we visit, I’m curious to try the NOC Fizzpresso. Coffees are served as small, medium or large and available for dining in or takeaway in cups which are 100% biodegradable. But if you bring your own reusable cup, the cafe will provide a 10% discount. The business will soon be opening locations in China and South Korea so watch this space. In the meantime, check out the roastery and other NOC Coffee locations in Hong Kong.
7. Amber Coffee Brewery
A modern coffee shop serving specialty coffee, you’ll find Amber Coffee brewery in the heart of Central. If you’re serious about cafe hopping in Hong Kong, you should definitely add this one to your list. A visit to this cafe means you’ll be jostling for a seat but the ambiance suggests Amber Coffee to be a spot where you conduct social affairs over a cup of coffee. Born and based in Hong Kong, Amber Coffee works to draw out the best flavours of the beans they source from around the world. All espressos are brewed with single-origin beans and are served as double shots (unless otherwise requested) for a more balanced flavour.
Look for the faded blue and white azulejo-inspired tiles at the front door before entering the narrow space to order your beverage. You’ll see their trophies sitting front and centre (Hong Kong Barista Champion 2014 & 2015; World Barista Championship 4th Place) between the coffee beans and pastries for sale. Wedge yourself on one of the bar seats or the corner bay window where you can watch the trams trundle past. Cash and card payment accepted.
Have you visited a cafe in Hong Kong that serves specialty coffee? Let us know down below!