It wasn’t all that long ago that you had to look hard to find anything other than Starbucks or Pacific Coffee to get a coffee fix in Hong Kong. Fortunately for the addicts among us, our city now boasts a thriving and very real coffee scene.
It’s not only the coffee that’s improved though, as the whole experience starts well before the first sip. The environment and ambiance is just as important — and local brewers know it, too, meaning that the way we drink coffee has been dramatically redefined. It’s in that vein that we’ve compiled this list — the coffee spots here don’t just serve a good cup (however you take your java), but are each doing their bit to add to our increasingly diverse coffee scene.
Concept: Foodie law stipulates the inclusion of 18 Grams on any Hong Kong coffee crawl, as one of the first to bring barista coffee to the masses. From an unassuming corner in Causeway Bay, John So and his team have created a thriving mini-empire, with seven branches altogether (including the most recent opening at Wan Chai’s Brim 28), encompassing the original 18 Grams and its more experimental, interactive offshoot, Coffee Roastery Lab.
What to order: The flat white at 18 Grams (HK$38) is as good as you’ll get around town, and they do a fine piccolo latte (HK$32) as well. Their iced options are almost as good as their hot selections — we love their iced cappuccino (HK$47) for those lazy summer afternoons.
Why you’ll be back: 18 Grams is nothing if not consistent. The relaxed, non-affected vibe of each of the stores belies the quality of the coffee on show — each site has its own house blend, which is selected according to the demographic. Causeway Bay’s Black Sheep roast is smooth and creamy, while the Underdog at Sheung Wan has a good kick to it.
18 Grams Specialty Coffee, 1-3 Mercer Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2327 5557
Concept: Starting off from a small coffee counter at the back of SoHo’s WOAW! concept store, Elephant Grounds has expanded to become one of the trendiest coffee stops around. Locally sourced ingredients and fine Brazilian and Sumatran java are the go-to at this polished yet chilled coffee bar, while the outlet in Mid-Levels (pictured above) boasts a sophisticated brew bar to cater to coffee aficionados. On the dining side, their ice cream sandwiches need no introduction, but it’s also worth exploring the all-day dining menu of breakfast items, salad, main courses and pasta.
What to order: The smoke milk affogato (HK$60) comes with a double shot of espresso and is a favourite caffeinated summer go-to. House-churned vanilla ice cream is offset by a subtle smoke infusion, meaning it’s light, not too creamy, and oh so refreshing. Their latest outlet in Wan Chai also expands upon EG’s frozen novelty creations, with American-style ice cream, soft serve, ice cream sandwiches, and the newest ‘EG Flurry’ with Hokkaido sweet cream ice cream whipped with customisable toppings.
Why you’ll be back: Browse the store’s super cool range of accessories and lifestyle gear while waiting for your brew — best enjoyed in Elephant Grounds’ sunny alfresco spaces at both the Mid-Levels and Admiralty locations.
Elephant Grounds Mid-Levels, 61 Caine Road, Mid-Levels, Central, Hong Kong
Concept: Originally opened on Graham Street, popular roastery NOC has since grown to seven locations around the island and counting. An acronym for “Not Only Coffee”, founders Benny Leung and Sam Chan envisioned this as a space where anyone could enjoy a fantastic cup of coffee paired with hearty all-day food offerings and friendly hospitality. Minimalist, clean lines dominate each space — think smooth concrete, natural light wood and white — allowing for the focus to remain on the coffee and the food.
What to order: The house-roasted coffee is excellent, or opt for the fizzpresso — a carbonated jolt of double espresso, passionfruit, lemon juice and tonic water — for something out of the ordinary. Feeling peckish? A full brunch menu is served in The Roastery in Sai Ying Pun and the recently opened Mercury store (try the avo toast and the colorful acai bowl), with a limited menu available at the Gough Street and Graham Street locations.
Why you’ll be back: Friendly staff, a fine cup of coffee and a satisfying all-day food menu to pair.
Craft Coffee Roaster
Concept: Among the lush new condos and shopping malls of the booming West Kowloon district, this tiny shopfront is quietly going about its business of bringing a serious cup of coffee to the ‘hood. Craft is an understated, relaxed — and surprising — neighbourhood cafe.
What to order: The focus here is on internationally-sourced beans, whole leaf teas and homemade desserts. The journey is worth it for a slice of the banana cheesecake alone (HK$34), but the SCAE-certified baristas also serve up a solid cup of java every time. This summer, quench your thirst with the Orangicano 2.0 (pictured above), with honeycomb espresso, fresh orange juice and local raw honey from Yuen Long.
Why you’ll be back: West Kowloon has rapidly transformed itself from virtual no-mans-land to a booming slice of suburbia, within the proverbial stone’s throw of our SAR’s Golden Mile. As such, it’s unlikely that you’ll be bumping into people you don’t want to make conversation with, and you can get on with having a really good cup of coffee.
Craft Coffee Roaster, 29 Tai Kok Tsui Road, West Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 2395 1888
Concept: It may have closed up shop in Tokyo, but Hong Kong now boasts its own outlet of the Japan capital’s famed hidden coffee shop, Omotesando Koffee. A tranquil oasis to get your java fix while wandering Lee Tung Avenue’s quaint pedestrian street, Omotesando exudes Japanese-style minimalism from the clean design to refined craftsmanship in the details.
What to order: Omotesando’s baristas take pride in the prime ingredients and processes that go into each cup, whether it’s the pour-over coffee, matcha lattes or espresso macchiato. Drinks err on the less sweet side, but you can still treat yourself on a sweltering summer day to an iced matcha cappuccino or iced cafe mocha topped with whipped cream and espresso powder.
Why you’ll be back: Like other aspects of Japanese culture and cuisine, coffee brewing is an art form here, which means you’re guaranteed care and craftsmanship in every cup. Plus, who could resist the famous baked ‘kashi’ custard squares for a sweet snack on the side?
Omotesando Koffee, Shop 24-25, Lee Tung Avenue, 200 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2601 3323
Hazel & Hershey
Concept: Established in 2009 with affiliates across China and Taiwan, Hazel & Hershey is your one-stop shop for everything roaster-related: barista tools, aprons, coffee cups, and beans from boutique roasters across the region. Hazel & Hershey works directly with key brands including Kalita, Bonavita, Hario, Mahlkonig, Ditting, Anfim, Mazzer and Nuova Simonelli, and is also a training centre for aspiring baristas.
What to order: The black coffee here is on point — rich, nutty and full of flavour. The latte art is beautifully presented, and Hazel & Hershey also do one of the best versions of matcha lattes in town, without any of the overly sweet, artificial flavour.
Why you’ll be back: A central location, alfresco vibes, free wifi, and plenty of coffee-related paraphernalia and tools of the trade should keep you entertained for hours at this one-of-a-kind shop.
Hazel & Hershey, Shop 3, 69 Peel Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3106 0760
Concept: Mansons Lot is the right mix of cosy and comfortable — den-like with industrial accents. Warm, inviting colours set the tone, and the lush leather booths beg you to settle in. Be sure to ask the friendly staff about the collection of old-school coffee paraphernalia on display in the custom-made display wall.
What to order: With coffee from premium Sydney roaster DiGabriel (the venture of a high school friend of Mansons Lot co-owner Davyd Wong), the milk coffees are a standout here. The cappuccino (HK$36) is spot-on, while the large, double-shot flat white (HK$50) is balanced really well, for those days you can’t get out of first gear.
Why you’ll be back: You wouldn’t know about Mansons Lot unless you were looking for it. This charming little café tucked between paper and lai see stores in a nondescript Wan Chai cul-de-sac is a perfect way to escape the crowds while not having to venture too far from them.
Mansons Lot, 15 Swatow Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2362 1899
N1 Coffee & Co.
Concept: The first thing we thought when we stepped into TST hangout N1 was that we’d taken the Star Ferry all the way to Taipei. You know those really cool cafés you find over there, with the latte art, bright colours and seemingly random interior pieces that look like someone went a little overboard at the flea market? That’s basically N1 — vibrant, bustling, unpretentious, and with darn good coffee to boot.
What to order: The pedigree of this place should tell you all you need to know. Part of the Barista Academy stable (co-founder EL Au is an award-winning barista, and his business partner Felix Wong is the man behind CWB fave Café Corridor), we loved N1’s iced latte (HK$40) and Americano (HK$25). Don’t leave without a cheeky slice of something from the good looking dessert display, either!
Why you’ll be back: This gem of a find on the TST/East TST border is really unlike anything we’ve seen in Hong Kong, and a welcome addition to our city’s coffee scene.
N1 Coffee & Co., 34 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 3568 4726
Knockbox Coffee Company
Concept: Knockbox’s mission is simple: to recreate traditional coffee house culture. Stylistically, you could describe Knockbox as utilitarian, but, for founder Patrick Tam, that’s sort of the point: “We don’t have comfortable sofas, we don’t have plugs, we don’t have wifi — we encourage people to talk and to communicate in the old way, to enlighten each other.”
What to order: The Knockbox brew delivers every time, no matter your preference, and the range of beans on offer is one of the most impressive in town. Their weekly Friday night coffee premiere is a bustling and social evening where the week’s new roasts are displayed — for HK$80, you get a shot glass, unlimited speciality coffee, and a more sophisticated alternative to after-work drinks.
Why you’ll be back: Tam is an advocate of direct trade — ask him about his trip to Nicaragua, where he spent a week on his supplier’s farm. He’s even documented his travels in a self-published, hardcover photo essay, the proceeds of which, of course, go straight to the farm itself.
Knockbox Coffee Company, 21 Hak Po Street, Mong Kok, Hong Kong, +852 2781 0363
Concept: The sleek design of this spot is enough to draw in curious passers by, and once you’ve tried % Arabica, you’ll know exactly why it has such an ardent following in and outside of Hong Kong. Their coffee comes by way of their own farm in Kona, Hawaii, thanks to owner and coffee enthusiast, Kenneth Shoji. Together with world latte art champion, Junichi Yamaguchi, and architect, Masaki Kato, he opened % Arabica’s Kyoto flagship; since then, they’ve expanded to numerous locations worldwide, including five outlets in Hong Kong (the TST Star Ferry branch, pictured above, is a popular pre-sail stop).
What to order: Why wait patiently for your coffee when you can get to making it yourself? Choose the “Barista Experience” (HK$50 for latte and HK$30 for espresso), and follow along as they teach you the tips and tricks to the trade.
Why you’ll be back: Stylish and elegant, % Arabica is more than just a coffee shop, it’s a lifestyle brand. If you love art and design as much as you love your coffee, this one’s for you.
Concept: One part indie design store, one part coffee brewer, Common Ground’s eclectic, upcycled, organic vibe (check the magazine rack) has become a favourite hang out for the Mid-Levels set in the know. Founders and twin brothers Joshua and Caleb Ng are well-respected in the industry, and for good reason.
What to order: Reward yourself for the trek up the stairs (it’s just below Caine Road) with a selection from the tidy little menu of comfort food, and enjoy it with a great brew — big ups to the Americano (HK$36) here.
Why you’ll be back: Quality product, indie products to browse, and a perfect spot for people watching. Need we say more?
Common Ground, 19 Shing Wong Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2818 8318
Concept: What a joy this place is. Unassuming would be an overstatement for Eugene Chan and Marcus Lui’s Lof10, an airy, breezy and minimalist space nestled between Poho and Ladder Street. There’s a chilled, west coast vibe here, from the loft-like fit-out (which has already been documented in several design magazines), to the communal table greeting you on arrival.
What to order: Lof10 are Hong Kong’s sole purveyors of LA’s Handsome Coffee, which is the star of the show here. We love their iced latte — a shot of espresso in a medium-sized glass filled with cold milk and a sphere of ice. We like to mix ours, but you can make up your own mind.
Why you’ll be back: This is a perfect spot for a lazy weekday afternoon, either alone or with good company. For Chan and Lui, this is what makes the coffee experience: “The perfect cup is my companion, it’s who you drink with,” Lui tells us. Chan agrees: “For a good cup of coffee, the taste can only last for so long. But a really good cup to us is what stays in your heart, what you remember about the whole experience. It’s more about the emotional touch.”
Lof10, G/F, 1 U Lam Terrace, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2540 2210
Concept: The coffee at Brew Bros is made with passion and delivered with care by Japanese Head Barista Hikaru Ono. A self-proclaimed professional coffee geek, Ono has been working in Japan and Australia for years, and consistently impresses with his high-quality coffee. Their beans are brought in from Market Lane, a specialty Melbourne-based coffee roaster.
What to order: Their espressos – particularly the long black (HK$28) have been well lauded. The Prana Chai tea (HK$45) is also a specialty, a blend of Ceylon black tea with cinnamon, Australian honey, herbs, and other fresh spices. They’re loved for their breakfasts as well, including the smashed avocado with feta, bacon and perfectly poached eggs over toast.
Why you’ll be back: Their perfectionist approach across the board, from brewing coffee to poaching eggs.
Brew Bros, Shop F2, LG/F, 33 Hillier Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2572 0238
Concept: Many claim Barista Jam to serve one of the best cups of coffee in town, and we agree that it’s certainly very, very good. From machine grinders to aero presses and siphon coffee makers, Barista Jam is serious about their stuff, and has the trade tools to prove it.
What to order: The latte (HK$36) is about as good as it gets, made with Barista Jam’s house blend and the perfect ratio of milk to coffee. The coffee itself is rich and nutty, subtly sweet yet boasting a strong kick. Barista Jam’s food offerings are also worth digging into, from creamy pastas to decked out sandwiches and sophisticated desserts on the menu.
Why you’ll be back: A new two-story venue gives plenty of room for lingering and enjoying Barista Jam’s worthy food and drink offerings (plus shopping the range of professional coffee equipment upstairs). With a great ambience and low prices to boot, it’s no surprise that Barista Jam is one of the most popular coffee shops in town.
Corner Kitchen Cafe
Concept: Located across the street from the greenery of Hollywood Road Park, the bright and airy Corner Kitchen is all about a great cup of joe and delectable home-baked treats. A breezy, open-air atmosphere makes a perfect place to people watch on the weekends while sipping your morning cappuccino or macchiato.
What to order: It may not be the most niche coffee roaster in town, but you can expect Corner Kitchen to deliver solid, consistent coffee, be it a milky latte or a frothy cappuccino. It’s also highly Instagrammable (if you’re into that sort of thing) — we’ve seen butterflies, flowers and even teddy bears adorning the lattes. Pair your coffee with the cafe’s indulgent cakes, including salted caramel cake (HK$55) and red velvet with cream cheese frosting.
Why you’ll be back: Corner Kitchen takes you away from the frenetic pace of life in Hong Kong, tucked away in a more spacious and leafy part of Sheung Wan. It’s hard not to be charmed by the sweet treats, fun drinks and always welcoming staff.
Corner Kitchen Cafe, G/F, 226 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2803 2822
Concept: Kubrick is housed in the cultural oasis that is Broadway Cinematheque located off the beaten path in Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon. Film fans flock to the spot, right by Hong Kong’s most popular art-house cinema, together with all types of culture vultures who find a home within the bright glass walls of this book/record store, exhibition space, and café.
What to order: The Iced Café au Lait with Mint Flavour (HK$48) comes as a pleasant surprise and is refreshing as it gets in the thick of summer. Kubrick also serves up less traditional coffees flavoured with hazelnut, caramel and almond (HK$42 each).
Why you’ll be back: The beautifully nostalgic environment is full of character, housing an eclectic selection of multi-lingual literature, prose, art, cinema and music. You could spend hours browsing the well-curated titles without getting bored – as do many who camp out for hours on end here with a well-made latte or iced coffee in hand.
Kubrick, Shop H2, Cinema Block, Prosperous Garden, 3 Public Square Street, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong, +852 2384 8929
Concept: Exactly how many coffee beans are used in a single espresso shot? The answer lies in the name of this hipster coffee shop with soul. Their beans are roasted by coffee scientist Keith Fong of Bloom Coffee House in Macau, and made with a Slayer coffee machine – legendary in the industry for setting a new standard for craft espresso. At the entrance of Why 50 is a cement wall inviting HK artists to express their creativity, contributing to the local scene through a programme called “Book Your Wall”.
What to order: The much-loved flat white “Slayer Coffee” (HK$40) – get a double shot for good measure. Also, the spicy chai latte (HK$42), which is properly made from scratch with house almond milk. Healthy eats have been much raved about include the char siu egg toast (HK$94) and the ‘Rawnola’ fruit yogurt (HK$58).
Why you’ll be back: Their vast and unique coffee and tea selection featuring flavours from lavender and rose to lychee and berry.
Why 50, Shop E, G/F, 27 Hillier Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 6532 4161
Cupping Room Coffee Roasters
Concept: One cannot speak of coffee in Hong Kong without mentioning The Cupping Room. Its homegrown talents have bagged multiple awards, including 2nd place in the World Barista Championship in 2014, and 1st place in the Hong Kong Barista Championship a year later. With several locations across Hong Kong, The Cupping Room is best known for their espressos and single origin filter coffees, which rotate weekly and are brewed to order.
What to order: The perfectly balanced filter coffee (HK$50-100) has been dubbed as one of the best in Hong Kong. Their single origin (HK$50) and competition selection espresso (HK$100) are fantastic — albeit pricey — pick-me-ups, the likes of which you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else in Hong Kong.
Why you’ll be back: Aside from their wide range of beans and standout pour-over, the range of breakfast dishes and pastas are legitimately delicious.
The Cupping Room, G/F, 18 Cochrane Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2511 3518
The Coffee Academics
Concept: One of Hong Kong’s leaders of third wave coffee, The Coffee Academics is 100% about the customised blend. Since it opened in 2012 as a sister brand of Caffe Habitu, TCA now operates a whopping 11 Hong Kong outlets (the newest is slated for August in K11 Musea), in addition to branches in Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai and Bangkok, a roasting academy and certified training centre. Needless to say, they take their coffee very, very seriously. They’ve been listed on The Telegraph’s list of the world’s best coffee shops and named one of the best cafes in Southeast Asia by various publications.
What to order: The Agave Latte (HK$55) is a must-order, served piping hot with a kick of spice. It’s made with raw agave nectar from Mexico and ground black pepper – incredibly smooth and bold minus the bitterness. Another crowd-pleaser is their ice-drip coffee, which is served unusually in a wine glass along with an informational brochure – after all, isn’t it all about the education here?
Why you’ll be back: The creamy yet strong aromatic coffee of all kinds, from espresso to pour-over. In addition, the industrial-chic Brooklyn feel, complete with high ceilings, a hipster crowd, and that distinct air of coffee snobbery – if you’re an avid drinker of the bean, you’ll slot right in.
Concept: Bearing a bright old school cinema sign just steps away from the Sai Ying Pun MTR, Winstons Coffee is unmissable. This friendly neighbourhood joint serves more than just excellent coffee — there’s fresh-baked breads, avo toasties and even cocktails, including a smooth-as-silk espresso martini. Keep an eye out on the changing sign, which ranges from the specials of the day to cheeky phrases such as “coffee is the new black”.
What to order: The chai tea latte is the real deal, bearing the unmistakable hum of ginger, cardamom and cinnamon in a richly aromatic drink. Surprisingly, these guys also make a mean cocktail — if you’re in need of a stronger pick-me-up, skip the coffee and go straight for the espresso martini or the Whisky Sweet & Sour, well-balanced with a frothy white cap.
Why you’ll be back: Come for the coffee, but stay for the sumptuous range of sandwiches and sweet baked goods, cocktails, late-night service and friendly vibes. Their second branch in Kennedy Town is just over a year old now, and really starting to hit its stride, easily accessible just a few minutes’ walk from the MTR.
Winstons Coffee, 213 Queens Road West, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, +852 2559 5078; Shop 8, The Hudson, 11 Davis Street, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong, +852 2697 1878