Hong Kong – The Coffee Edition

Quickly upon meeting any of team waterfalls&caribous, you learn something pretty crucial about us – we love coffee and have been known to go to great lengths to hunt it out, to binge drink it in the spirit of research, to cry over it (well, Dan has), to make friends and enemies according to our coffee experiences – Dan has even been known to pull his barista weight and get himself behind the machine in some pretty impressive locations…flat white at the Great Wall, anybody?!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yes, we’re stuck up about our coffee.  We’re used to it a certain way – the CORRECT way – in a certain cup (depending on the coffee type) and a great atmosphere is always appreciated too.  Flouting such know-it-all authority like its our universe-given right has led friends, workmates and acquaintances to buy into our hype and ask for our recommendations on where to go for great caffeine.  In Korea, the answer might have been “없어요” it doesn’t exist/cannot/don’t have/there isn’t…usually accompanied by arms crossed in an x-shape and directed about a thousand times a day at us during our time there whenever we asked for, well, pretty much anything.  Luckily here in Hong Kong there are loads of not only adequate but fantastic places!  That’s not to say all places here are great – of course, crap still exists which is why this list will come in handy. 20140731_154526

A quick guide to our to guide (hehe) – Dan as a matter of course drinks flat whites.  If you do not know what this is, head straight to Espresso Alchemy to be schooled.  There are many poor imitations lurking in the streets of Hong Kong but EA does it perfectly.  It’s an antipodean construct – therefore we have the birthright to be highly fussy.  H-J varies in her coffee drinkage, slutting her way around soy flat whites, long blacks, espressos and, in more recent times, decaf.  Though thankfully, that’s being phased back out again.  Next, we are only telling you about coffee, not food.  Eating is cheating.  Finally, most of these cafes do espresso based coffee drinks only, however the entries marked with stars offer specialist single origin coffees as well and, accordingly, the appropriate means of preparation._TIM7519

There are other places that people equally as stuck up about coffee will recommend but (1) Sheung Wan has more cafes opening on a weekly basis that we could ever be bothered or rich enough to sample; (2) we look at the whole experience including service which ultimately knocks off more places than you could imagine here; and, (3) it’s our list, so we’ll include what we want to.  Without further adieu, we will lead you through our faves and save you the hassle of unpredictable bad coffee.  Gosh we’re kind.20140731_175011

Unar Coffee Company – Tai Hang

One of the first “proper” coffees we had in Hong Kong was at this hole-in-the-wall cafe in Second Lane.  The coffee is great and the fact that it lurks on a street corner in a neighbourhood as funky, eclectic and cool as Tai Hang will give you instant street cred when you bring your friends there. IMG_7474

Cafe Corridor – Causeway Bay

We made our first random friend in Hong Kong here and it was also the first cafe we managed to find a flat white!  The coffee is generally great though inconsistencies do occur in milk temperature as well as service temperature.  However, when on form, this place is a winner.  You can get cool points for guiding people here too though it’s often packed so maybe not as well hidden as once upon a time.Espresso Alchemy – Quarry Bay

When presented with a flat white at this great little Quarry Bay gem, Dan’s eyes welled up.  It was THAT perfect.  Probably our most frequented spot, we’ve laughed here, fought here, celebrated here, obviously cried here, but mostly just drunk Exceptional Coffee.  It’s owned by a Hong Kong/Melburnian which explains why the coffee is so darn good and makes us feel like we’re back where the water drains clockwise.20140731_175057

Barista Jam – Sheung Wan

We had to include one Sheung Wan regular here and Barista Jam has been looking after us since early on in our time here in HK.  Consistently poured espresso based drinks, a selection of beans for purchase (though why, WHY do you guys always run out of Yirgacheffe?!!? Order more!) and lots of retail bits and pieces make this a worthwhile stop.  It is, however, the only place on our list not open on Sundays…20140731_171238 20140731_171524 20140731_171834

Silly Boo – Tin Hau

Owned by the same folk as Cafe Corridor, but with slightly different offerings in both coffee and food, Silly Boo is a great stop for coffee and another very regular haunt of ours.  Perched on a great little corner in bustling, foodie Tin Hau, it’s a great location to sip flat whites and watch the world go by.20140731_115016

Kubrick – Yau Ma Tei

Kubrick is home to not only a superb flat white but is located in a lush bookshop, attached to an art house cinema.  We warn you – it is difficult to leave this place only having spent coffee money but it is a heavy contender for both coffee and atmosphere.20140731_163641 20140731_163807

*Xen Coffee* – Quarry Bay

This hidden cafe gets the ‘R’ for Random coffee spot award due to its incredibly weird (and we’re guessing incredibly cheap rental) spot in a poky little underground mall in QB.  Take said mall (full of dodgy looking nail shops, crusty gift shops and a bunch of sad looking untenanted cubbyholes) and throw a glossy, professional siphon coffee bar in the mix.  Their world geography is shady but their slow dripped siphon coffee rocks and their cold press will put hairs on your chest.  Awesome.2013-12-15 14.03.3320140706_150907 20140706_150858 20140706_161803

*Knockbox Coffee Company* – Mong Kok

The heavyweight of caffeine experiences in Hong Kong, we wish it was just an eensy bit closer to our house…though if it was we’d be bankrupted within a week.  These guys know their coffee possibly more than any other baristas we’ve ever come across.  If you’re into coffee geekery or ever just want to experience something novel try Knockbox.  For $150 they offer a coffee tasting where you can sample either three different types of coffees or 3 different preparations.  Very cool, very educational, very dangerous 🙂20140731_160144 20140731_155211

*Brew Note* – North Point

The newest kid on the block – literally, OUR block!  Yes, the unthinkably dangerous has happened and a cafe has opened on our street.  In our opinion, this is the first viable option for proper coffee in North Point.  Flanked by a plethora of options in neighbouring Tin Hau, Tai Hang and Quarry Bay, poor wee North Point has been unfairly neglected in the coffee stakes until now.  Thankfully Brew Note has changed this.  They roast onsite, have 14 different single origin beans (for drinking and for sale), and not only a range of different drinking styles but also differing tastes of washed/unwashed beans.  Our only complaint is the complete barstardisation of serving flat whites in glasses.  Urgh.  Other than that, it’s an awesome place with great style, service and, most importantly, coffee.  It’s our new home/office away from home.20140719_131741 20140719_131823 20140719_135644

*Our house* – North Point

We didn’t bring our espresso machine in our backpacks but we did bring out stainless steel french press on our travels.  Actually this is replacement model with the first wearing out from overuse!  We can also offer you Swiss Gold filtered or hand-dripped, depending on your choice of blend/bean.  Beans are ground fresh to order and on any given day you may be lucky enough to sample Havana 5 Star (Wellington, New Zealand), beautifully roasted Yirgacheffe from H-J’s favourite roastery, Mazagran (Dunedin, New Zealand), beans fresh from the coffee plantations of Central America (thanks Brylee!) or from the reaches of South India depending on which of our friends or family have most recently sent us a package.20140727_220834

Oh, and we can assure you the service is amazing.  As is our geographically sound map of the aforementioned cafes.  Order yours today!


Categories: Coffee, HK Food Tour, Hong Kong, TravelTags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I thought you two were British, but the coffee snobbier makes me now think Aussie. Sydneysiders perhaps?

  2. After reading this I really want a coffee now…

    • I would also be curious about the tea scene in HK considering the Chinese and British mix.

      • Tea drinking is still the predominant pastime here, both in the traditional and more British forms. It dominates in style – for example, yum cha literally means “drink tea” – as well as in the name of types establishments like cha chaan teng “tea restaurant”. A particularly interesting drink is Milk Tea, a drink unique to Hong Kong involving a stewed brew of black tea (or in some places a mix of different black teas) with evaporated or condensed milk served hot or cold. There isn’t a menu in HK that wouldn’t offer some variation of this drink – cold, strong and addictive! In fact, there’s a whole other blog in this somewhere…

      • I shall look forward to that blog on Milk Tea. I don’t normally like sweet eat but then on the other hand any old excuse for a bit of condensed milk.

    • Lol, glad we could inspire caffiene cravings!

  3. Very glad to see that Xen Coffee made the cut! How many times have you made it back?

  4. Where is my plane ticket?! How I miss a truly great cup of coffee!

  5. Damn, now you have me hankering for a flat white. Definitely the thing I miss most about NZ.. proper coffee!

  6. Is Silly Boo where Dan and I met you upon my arrival to Hong Kong? And always know the coffee at your place is going to be good 🙂

  7. I had to google flat white. 😀 Now I need to find somewhere in Ottawa that serves them! Or I could go to Hong Kong…… 😀

  8. hey there! i’m loving your recent posts!
    I also blogged about the Shopping Paradise of Asia, Hong Kong! what do you think about HK?

    here’s what my recent post is all about…

    would be so nice to hear from you! 🙂

    cheers! xx

    deanna ( http://www.talkaboutbeauty.wordpress.com )

    • Thanks so much for your comments, Deanna! Yep, we absolutely LOVE Hong Kong and have had a blast living here. Your blog really captured lots of the stuff that makes HK so great, the buildings, the people, the food, the shopping. We notice you also mentioned you love Korean food – we lived in Korea previous to HK so you might enjoy digging through some of our blogs on Korean food. But be warned, you’ll get hungry!

  9. Let’s ‘do’ coffee soon xx

  10. You guys always entertain me. I like coffee and drink it daily. I have my wonderful espresso machine (correctly spelled, too) and drink a variety of coffees from whatever and wherever. I love that you truly appreciate and can differentiate your coffees. Sadly, given that our children have now grown much older, as have we, I find that while I like coffee tremendously, whiskey and wines are the drinks of choice. Hence, I can give you great detail on the character, complexity, nose and finish of bourbon, rum and red wines. These things give me great pleasure while leaving me in a more sedate, amiable state while they prater on and on and on….If I drank coffee and the constant ingestion of caffeine I actually might follow and understand their constant diatribe which would irritate me because I reared them better. 🙂 I prefer my alcohol induced stupor. I think the kids do, too. 😀

  11. Now that is an in depth guide!!! Bravo to that! Aaaaah, the x shape cross arms Asian gesture. I love that. If we ever meet in person we have to use that within our conversations.

  12. As I sit here with my sad cup of folgers all I can say is at least it’s not instant, oh and thank goodness I didn’t have to go out in the 40 degree weather to get it, It’s been rather warm here of late 🙂

  13. Amazing finds! I love the character present in each of these shops, that’s all part of a great coffee experience in my opinion.
    As you probably remember Angel-in-us just doesn’t cut it on either attribute! I have one favorite coffee shop here, only a block away from our apartment (thank the coffee Gods) and it’s really stellar, one of the best coffee experiences I’ve ever had.
    Beyond that it’s been hard going over here – this makes we want to head back to Hong Kong ASAP!!
    Hope you’re all doing well!!
    ~ Andrea ❤

    • So glad you’ve managed to find good coffee in Korea. We were starting to think it was the place coffee went to die, haha. The scene will pick up in time, I’m sure. You guys planning to stick it out there for the forseeable future?

      • If coffee didn’t die here it’s being held hostage in millions of instant packets…just gross.
        But seriously, the one place I like is so good I can forget, should they shut down my life would seize to have meaning here…
        Yes, we’re thinking another 2-3 years still. We’re almost debt free come next July and we want to save some more up so we can do a few longer trips in the future or move to South America for a few years. It hit me kind of hard in the past few months but I’m getting really worn down with living here, it’s definitely getting close to that time… 🙂
        How about you guys – how much longer will you be calling Hong Kong home for?

      • We actually only have 11 weeks left here 😦 Gutted to say goodbye to HK but the green grass, clean shores and fresh air of NZ are calling us home. We want Olive to experience all those things, to be near family and to be able to open the back door and go play in the backyard – an impossible luxury in this part of the world!

  14. Chemex is pure wank, you guys are pure cool. Coffee is dead, its all about Hemp Juice. boom!

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