Hong Kong’s best cafés
Originally from Japan but now with branches in Europe, the US and Middle East, % Arabica take their coffee seriously. With three locations in Hong Kong, located in TST’s Star Ferry Terminal, Central’s IFC and Discovery Bay, there’s no better option for a coffee on the go.
With branches in Sheung Wan, Tsim Sha Tsui and Sha Tin, it’s hard to believe that 18 Grams first started out at this small espresso bar in Causeway Bay. Managed by a world-class barista judge, 18 Grams believes in fresh, locally-roasted coffee beans. Their espresso-based coffee has helped create and dominate the Hong Kong coffee scene. Pop along to Canon Street to see where it all began and sip a perfectly ratioed cup of coffee.
A recent addition to the already stacked and packed array of coffee shops in Sheung Wan, Amber brings to town eccentric coffee creations by award-winning barista Dawn Chan, a two-time champion at the Hong Kong Barista Championship. Serving everything from pineapple juice-infused cold brews to speciality house black served in hand-painted cups, Amber also turns into a wine bar in the evening if you’re looking for a nightcap or two.
The go-to spot for the hipster crowd, Artisan Garden Cafe boasts an outdoor patio area and a cosy indoor space with a wall completely decked out with Fire-King mugs. The charming Aussie-inspired gaff has a great menu featuring finely-brewed coffee and waffles – the buttermilk fried chicken is a must-try. Stop by and it’s sure to be a g’day, mate!
Sleek and chic, this is an artisanal coffee shop in Shek Tong Tsui that combines finely crafted drinks – whether it’s coffee, organic tea or juices – with a purpose-built social ambiance. The joes are masterful and the crowd is cool, however, for us, the food is king. Enjoy a sweet or savoury éclair or a delicate quiche as you take a seat on the outdoor terrace or at a communal table. Sit next to the adorable wall art as you sip your coffee and tuck into some of those tasty bites.
Barista Jam’s signature drip coffee is a must-have at this compact coffeehouse. From Japanese siphon coffee and french press to hand grinders and Aeropress, not to mention Moka pots, you can find almost every method of brewing imaginable at Barista Jam. Try their flat white and small batch roast coffee for the perfect caffeine fix.
Though the coffee shop may be a small and narrow, their java and baristas are the real deal. Black Cherry has all the usual suspects: latte, cappuccino, americano, as well as dirty and affogato. Those with a sweet tooth will be delighted by their selection of muffins and homemade cakes. The highlight though? Black Cherry is the perfect spot to grab that early morning coffee before most of the other shops in Aberdeen open.
This hole-in-the-wall offers Sheung Wan residents Melbourne-style coffee. Made from coffee beans delivered direct from Melbourne’s Market Lane Coffee, you can order anything from a cappuccino to their signature 21-hour cold brew, plus a great selection of teas including prana chai and matcha with soy milk. Grab a fresh pastry to go if you’re in a rush or sit down for a full breakfast. Be prepared to wait, though, as the café only seats around 10 to 15 people.
Starting out as a simple tea shop in Tokyo in 1968, Brook’s Café is the go-to place for Japanese-inspired drinks and desserts. We’re talking deliciously rich Blue Mountain drip coffee and matcha floats and smoothies. Escape the busy streets of Wan Chai and pop along to this underground café for a delectable sweet treat or two.
Surround yourself with the fragrant aroma of fresh flowers in Sheung Wan’s secret garden café. Quaint and quiet in equal measure, Café Bauhinia doubles up as a flower and coffee shop. The walls and terrace are dripping in bloomers, creating an almost rural atmosphere while you munch on items from the tea-set-inspired menu that offers coffee alongside Hong Kong’s first ever s’more buffet.
It’s worth getting hay fever just for a trip to this quirky botanical café. With curated farmhouse decor, potted plants and giant bouquets, your senses will feel as if they’ve taken a well-deserved break from all the air pollution in our sometimes hazy city. The café is spacious with plenty of seating and a florist downstairs. The speciality ice drip coffee is made with freshly roasted beans – perfect with a slice of lemon cheesecake.
Hidden away inside JCCAC in Shek Kip Mei, Café Golden is a hipster heaven with vintage décor and furnishings. Enjoy a cuppa surrounded by an eclectic collection of silk cheongsam from the 50s, a seat recovered from an old cinema, vintage sewing machines and television stands. The coffee selection is none too shabby either, offering customers everything from hand drip and siphon brews to espresso of all kinds.
Tucked away inside Hong Kong’s trendy PMQ compound, Café Life is continuously bustling with customers looking for a great cup to go or one of its decadent homemade baked goods. Each batch of beans is made to order and roasted with a compact in-house roasting machine in the corner of the shop. The beans are picked from the best terroirs around the world such as Tanzania, Costa Rica and Columbia, giving customers a wide array of premium choices.
Although Sham Shui Po isn’t exactly known for its coffee as much as its electronics stalls or cheap eats, Sausalito exists as a coffee mecca for javaholics in the district. You’ll find all the usual suspects like lattes and cappuccinos, but Sausalito also serves single origin pour over coffee and a cucumberano – a cucumber flavoured coffee and soda water concoction. Stop by during the weekend for some awesome live music.
There’s no dearth of trendy artisanal coffee shops springing up these days, but when it comes to local brands none are as successful or impressive as The Coffee Academics. Their flagship store is located here in Yiu Wa Street. It’s a spacious venue with a slew of cold brews, handcrafted espresso-based drinks, ice drip coffee, as well as teas, alcoholic drinks and a robust food menu. It’s the perfect place to set up your laptop and get some work done.
This hole-in-a-wall coffee joint in the hipster neighbourhood of Kennedy Town is the perfect place to pick up a cup of joe on your way to work. Serving a selection of great coffee including cappuccino, flat white and espresso by a “handsome barista” (their words, not ours) grab delicious homemade pastries, muffins and cakes (coconut walnut, rose pistachio, pumpkin pecan) with your coffee for a filling breakfast.
The Sheung Wan branch of one of Hong Kong’s leading purveyors of java, The Cupping Room is one of your best bets for a reliable pick-me-up. The perfect place to chill and enjoy brunch on a weekend, patrons keep returning for its smooth coffee and excellent eggs benedict.
The Elephant Grounds premises on Star Street is the first of its four branches to offer all-day dining, which includes an impressive lineup of cocktails that feature some of the finest java. You can play it safe with the classic latte or order from their seasonal single origin coffee menu. Try the Espressotini, a mixture of Belvedere vodka, Kirin whisky, Kahlua and espresso, or some of the other more unconventional creations including the beetroot juice latte.
A minimalistic café slash concept store located on the slopes of Hill Road, Ethos’s specialty is its pour-over and ice-drip coffee. The café is also one of few places in Hong Kong where you can find a decent Vienna coffee (two shot espresso with whipped cream). Aside from java, Ethos does some pretty great sweet and savory crêpes. Nip next door while you wait for some retail therapy.
With its giant roasting machine by the window, it’s hard to miss this neighbourhood café on Caine Road. All the coffee beans are locally roasted and their menu, though simple, are all hits and no misses. The drip coffee is a standout. Filters Lane also serves up daily freshly baked good and the comfy atmosphere makes for a great spot to hang with some friends.
Best known for serving its coffee in vintage Hong Kong porcelain cups – their takeaway paper cups also feature porcelain patterns – Halfway Coffee is a dinky joint tucked away near the antique shops on Upper Lascar Row. They serve all the classic coffee options and a wide selection of tea. We recommend trying the Okinawan black sugar milk for something a little different.
Japanese drip coffee is a must here and if you’re into variety then you’ll be pleased to note they have a different coffee of the week to keep things fresh. Proud brewers of green coffee, Hazel & Hershey roasts their beans locally and are one of the major coffee bean distributors in Hong Kong. When you’re not rooting around for the latest coffee tools and accessories, sit back and enjoy a cuppa in the hidden alleyway seating area.
In among the hustle and bustle of Sai Ying Pun is a two-storey coffee house where you can find fantastic handcrafted coffee, homemade muffins and desserts including a wicked espresso Bailey cheesecake. Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to work in the attic or seeking to enjoy a breeze in the upstairs outdoor area, The Hideout is the perfect urban getaway for a coffee break.
A hidden-away gem on the far end of the island, Heima Heima is a one-woman operation where you’ll feel very much at home. With Japanese-inspired vibes, every corner here is photo-worthy: handpicked wall art, a small room with tatami-style dining, and shelves of books and souvenirs. Although their focus is more on Japanese tea, Heima does great pour-over and cold brew coffee too.
Kaffeine sits on Jervois Street, in a neighbourhood where the competition is intense – several other indie cafés are all within a couple of minutes walk. What helps Kaffeine stand out from the pack is not only its quality, if straightforward, coffee but its excellent fresh food.
A Stanley Kubrick-inspired café neighbouring local arthouse cinema Broadway Cinemathèque, here is where you can find a multilingual selection of books and magazines with topics ranging from the history of cinema to Russian folk tales. A popular meeting spot for students and entrepreneurs alike, the menu features options for those who are lactose intolerant with organic soymilk coffee and vegan ice cream available.
A venture started by three French entrepreneurs, La Station offers an authentic European coffee experience in the heart of Wan Chai. The interior decor is a mashup of a European train station and a Hong Kong MTR station – think curved walls and red tiles – which lends the space an intimate vibe. Enjoy their signature coffee, a secret recipe, and desserts provided by Paul Lafayette, who happens to be the patriarch of two of the three owners.
Tucked away just off the main street on Lamma Island, Lala Mama's a cafe that serves up everything from all-day breakfast and vegetarian food to delicious homemade desserts. Rustic and homely complete with wooden furniture and shelves lined with bars and ceramics, enjoy a rich and creamy flat white while browsing travel books from the shelf.
More spacious than the entrance suggests, Lof 10 is a laid back venue, quieter than many coffee shops in the neighbourhood, treating diners to a range of Java and flavoured coffee, including a rose latte. While not the most affordable café in town, the cold drink selection is great for hotter months – we recommend the iced citrus matcha tea – and an ice cream cookie sandwich is perfect for satisfying any sweet cravings.
This Aussie-inspired bohemian coffee joint is a far cry from Wan Chai’s seedier corners, flaunting its rustic vibe, both inside and out. Selling a speciality espresso, which was awarded Australia’s Best Espresso, enjoy your java with a lunch cooked freshly on-site. A helpful set of descriptions aids the amateur coffee-taster discern the best choice, while connoisseurs can simply enjoy a fortified brew in a stylish setting.
The third and largest branch of NOC Coffee – co-founded by 2011 Hong Kong Barista Champion Chan Chak Sum – is a popular stomping ground for coffee lovers. Filled with natural light, This coffee roastery expertly brews up your favourite javas while the robust food menu is packed with healthy salads, all-day breakfasts and fruit bowls. An ideal chill out spot for a quick lunch or weekend hang-out session.
This Wan Chai newcomer serves up Australian-style brunch food and some excellent lattés. A venture started by the first-runner up in the American world latte art championship, Ninetys keeps things simple and only brews up black, white and filter coffee with only a few varieties – fruity, nutty or a chocolate blend. Either way, they’re all seriously good. Can’t decide? The café offers tastings notes to go with your coffee eg. pairing almonds with your fruity blend java.
There’s a surprising number of Australian-inspired coffee shops in Hong Kong, but Nutsy Coffee Bar is definitely up near the top. Best known for its single origin coffee in the form of espressos and hand-drip drinks, Nutsy brings Hongkongers some intense and sublime coffee. They sell regular seasonal sweet and savoury items – hot cross buns during Easter, for instance – and are one of the few places that serves vegemite on toast. Show some love by leaving messages and drawings on the giant chalkboard.
This once-hidden Tokyo coffee shop, famous for its espresso and cube-shaped baked custards called ‘kashi’, has closed its original premises in Omotesando, at its charmingly minimalist residential premise, and come to Wan Chai. The regular hot ‘koffee’ is excellent but it’s worth paying extra for the hand drip version.
Located towards the harbour on Connaught Road West, this laid-back modern café quickly became a neighbourhood favourite among locals after opening its doors. Aside from the usual offerings – though they do offer a bulletproof, consisting of virgin coconut oil and butter, that’s worth trying if you’ve never sampled one before – Opendoor has a fantastic smoothie menu featuring both fruity varieties and protein powder-based options. Venture out to the hidden courtyard for some fresh air, or a smoke, and take advantage of the pet-friendly policy if you’ve got a pooch!
This place isn’t just a coffee shop, it doubles up as an antique store and a coworking space, where they sell pretty much anything: teacups, typewriters, bags, you name it. Its food and beverages are served on fancy china and they serve hand drip coffee from staples like Ethiopia, Kenya and Colombia. As well as ice drip coffee, you can order up an ice drip ‘sparkling’ coffee, which comes in a special lavender flavour.
As the name suggests, the concept behind this Mong Kok café is to provide a space for people to take a pause while sipping a quality coffee. Pause It sources coffee beans from Ethiopia and Columbia, so the java tends to have a stronger citrus aroma. Aside from great flavours, the baristas here use natural colourings to spice up your coffee orders including the charcoal latte – which has been a huge hit on Instagram already – purple taro latte and red velvet latte.
If you want to find out what all the fuss is about regarding cheese-topped coffee or tea, this is the place to go. Injecting new energy into the historic neighbourhood around Kowloon City, this cosy nook offers a great array of well-brewed java including the signature house blend, a mix of Colombian and Costa Rican beans. But the popular order at Rings is the cheese milk-covered drinks – beverages served with a layer of cheesy cream. Though it may not sound entirely appetizing, the cream cheese actually provides an extra thickness and a hint of saltiness to balance the sweetness.
This artisan café opened in 2015 serving smooth coffee with cute latte art and pies from Tai Tai Pie Pie. The coffee beans at Steam are a mix of South American blend and imports from Asia, and they offer dairy-free options too – coconut latte, anyone? Its relaxing atmosphere makes it a perfect spot to get away from the hustle and bustle and the friendly staff always manage to put a smile on your face.
If you’re looking to tool up while you fuel up, Toolss is a coffee shop that doubles up as a stationary shop. Adjacent to JCCAC in Shek Kip Mei, this compact little café invites diners to enjoy a cup of joe on wooden stools. The only downside is the tiny size of the place it can only fit around eight people at a time. But while you wait for a seat, you can have a browse at their fantastically quirky selection of stationary and magazines.
French windows, tatami-style seating, wooden decor and colourful wall paintings – this Japanese-inspired coffee shop in Ma On Shan is bright and airy, perfect for a mid-day catch up with friends. The food, served on simple wooden trays, will have you salivating: coconut soufflés and matcha crepe cakes, tonkatsu sets and onigiris. There are also some fun twists on the coffee menu such as a red bean matcha latte, Bailey's coffee and Taiwanese pineapple beer.
Despite relocating from Second Lane to a smaller venue with limited seating, Unar Coffee Company continues to attract local coffee connoisseurs thanks to its refined choice of Italian coffee beans. Aside from the impressive selection of flavoured coffee including banana, crème brûlée and cucumber, Unar also boasts an ‘undrinkable chocolate’. Interested? The outdoor benches are perfect for people watching and lounging in the sun.
Cheung Chau is a longtime street-food paradise, but these days, it’s making way for hip cafes. Valor Cheung Chau is a hipster coffee shop offering unique – and incredibly Instagrammable – java creations including coconut ice-dripped coffee served with a whole coconut. With a wall of coffee beans contained in glass filters as well as beautiful latte art, there’s plenty of great brews and photo-ops awaits at this outer island cafe.
Why 50 welcomes patrons with cool graffiti artwork at the entrance and a great selection of joe including their specialty espresso, which uses 50 beans to create a shot, hence the name. Aside from tea and coffee (featuring flavours like lavender), this industrial style spot offers quality dishes that riff on breakfast classics. Think char siu and egg toast or a pulled pork and cheese sandwich.