Although we still love our cup of lai cha in the morning or a Horlicks, more and more, Hongkongers are turning to coffee for their AM pick-me-up. Coffee culture here is bigger than ever, with an independent coffee shop on seemingly every street corner, from Sheung Wan to Kowloon. As more and more speciality cafés pop up around town to cater to all sorts of different taste buds. These days, you have to be able to do more than pour a well-executed espresso or flat white. Even different brewing methods – your siphon or your Aeropress – are no longer enough to impress. You need interesting new flavours to keep things fresh – a simple matcha latte just doesn’t cut it anymore. On that note, here are some of the most unique must-try javas to shake up your morning routine.
RECOMMENDED: Looking for more standard brews? Try any one of Hong Kong’s best cafés and coffeeshops.
Quirky coffees to try right now
The avocado craze is still alive and kicking in Hong Kong and this could well be the peak of it all. The epitome of hipster – even though the drink was originally created as satire – the avolatte at Athletic Juice and Espresso Bar is pretty much what it sounds like – a latte served in a mostly hollowed out avocado skin. Because who needs a proper cup, right?
Although Sham Shui Po isn’t as well known for its coffee as much as its cheap electronics, Cafe Sausalito exists as a mecca for the district’s caffeine addicts. On the menu, you’ll find all the usual suspects like lattes and cappuccinos, but this cooler-than-thou spot also serves up the Cucumberano – a cucumber-flavoured coffee and soda water concoction. Surprisingly refreshing.
A cup of joe like no other, a Bulletproof is a concoction of filter coffee, milk, unsalted butter and coconut oil. Although the drink doesn’t look much different from your average latte, the rich, thick, slightly oily texture can take a while to adjust to, so take your time with it. Aside from the cool name, it’s supposedly great for its long, slow release of caffeine throughout the day.
Pause It sources beans from Ethiopia and Colombia and its java tends to have a strong citrus aroma. As well as serving coffee with great flavour, the baristas here use natural colourings to spice up your coffee. The most spectacular looking, and our favourite, is the charcoal latte, which has been a huge hit on Instagram already. Less strong on the caffeine but also noteworthy are the café’s purple taro and red velvet lattes.
If you want to discover what all the fuss is about regarding cheese-topped coffee, which emerged out of Taiwan last year, here’s where to go. A cosy nook in Kowloon City, Rings offers a selection of cheese milk-covered drinks – basically, beverages served beneath a layer of cream cheese – including a special tonic coffee cover. Though it may not sound entirely appetising, the head actually provides a surprising saltiness that nicely balances any sweetness.
Smoko, a hole-in-the-wall joint, is one of the few places in Hong Kong that serves up tap coffee. Infused with nitrogen, the chilled brew, with its liberal layer of foam on top, comes out looking something like a pint of Guinness. Super smooth, it has a particularly silky mouthfeel.
Cheung Chau has long been a street food paradise but these days, cool cafés are an increasing attraction on the outlying island. One of the most famous is Valor, where you can get a coconut ice-dripped coffee served within a young coconut. The fruity goodness of the coconut and the lightly roasted java make for a delightful combo.
Out of this world, Kennedy Town’s Infiniti C café has made a name for itself with its entirely gluten-free food menu. The coffee is equally inspired. How does this latte get its colour? The secret is organic beetroot and Hokkaido red beans, which provides a nice freshness and sweetness. It’s topped up with pink salt and black pepper-infused gluten-free oats milk to complete the health kick.