The quest for good coffee is a never-ending one at Sassy. To ensure you’re never short of places to get your next caffeine fix, we’ve continued taste testing at cafés far and wide (some new, some old and some completely hidden). Check out the latest in this Coffee Chronicles instalment…
You may recall me raving about ZAI FÉ’s flagship Quarry Bay location a few months back. Well, as the owners indicated then, ZAI FÉ’s mission to stamp its mark on the local coffee scene is well and truly underway having opened not just one, but TWO new locations recently – in Central and in Kwun Tong! Being a Sheung Wan girl, I’ve become somewhat of a regular at their Central branch, tucked at the back of Bo Concept on Wyndham Street. Set on a sheltered outdoor terrace, this café has to be one of the best kept secrets in Central (a friend actually asked me not to tell anyone about it because she didn’t want word getting out about how good it is). Along with serving stellar coffee – I really can’t say enough good things about it – ZAI FÉ’s deli-style food menu is also fantastic. Healthy, simple and not out of a packet, this is the place to hit this winter if you’re craving some hearty soup, a delicious toastie or gourmet pie. If you’re with someone who isn’t much of a coffee drinker, steer them in the direction of ZAI FÉ’s blueberry jamtini – it’s a game changer.
ZAI FÉ, Central, Bo Concept, 1/ F Terrace, 73 Wyndham St, Central, Hong Kong; ZAI FÉ, LG Millennium City 5, 418 Kwun Tong Rd, Kwun Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2169 3003, zai-fe.com
Good coffee is no longer hard to find in Wan Chai – actually, it’s becoming increasingly harder for cafés and espresso bars to stand out from the crowd. A spot that never fails to deliver on the quality front for me is Coco Espresso. Along with having a really nice team behind the counter (who genuinely try to remember your order if you’re a regular – a Hong Kong rarity), their coffee is skilfully made. I’m particularly partial to their cappuccinos. If you’re feeling hungry, Coco Espresso’s homemade banana bread is top notch (next level when heated and served with a dollop of butter). Their bagels are also pretty good – the chicken avocado is my pick.
Coco Espresso, G/F, 2 Anton St, Wan Chai, G/F, Hong Kong, 2529 1682, cocobarista.com/eng
NOSH is one of those neighbourhood cafés you walk into and instantly like. As the name suggests, it has an awesome food menu (the breakfast, brunch and lunch options are delicious and slightly more creative than the standard fodder on other café menus around town). The coffee is really well made, and, given how busy the place is with people dining in and constantly swinging by to take away, it seems that’s no secret. If you’re craving something cool and sweet, the iced caramel latte here is sure to hit the spot.
NOSH, 11 Upper Station Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 2559 8508, nosh.com.hk
I’d heard a lot about 18 Grams before finally getting around to visit their Sheung Wan branch. One thing’s for sure, this is a place for serious coffee drinkers – people who really appreciate the art and science of a good brew. I normally opt to grab my coffee (and a slab of their home-made banana loaf) to go – being a hop, skip and a jump away from the Sheung Wan MTR makes for a super convenient location.
18 Grams, G/F, 77 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 2327 5557,www.18grams.com
Tucked right at the back of cult speciality store WAOW on Gough Street, Elephant Grounds is an independent roaster and purveyor of seriously good coffee in a modern, quirky setting. Along with serving ridiculously amazing ice cream sandwiches (the Hong Kong style milk tea with honey comb and white choc flakes is my current favourite), their beverage menu is also standout. One drink that separates Elephant Grounds from the rest of the Hong Kong herd is their bulletproof coffee. The bulletproof latte is a mix of coffee, milk, un-salted butter and MCT oil. While it’s a bit on the heavy side, it’s quite tasty and delivers a slow-burning seven-hour caffeine hit. If you’re craving something different (and slightly healthier), the almond milk latte gets a big thumbs up from me too.
Elephant Grounds, 11 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2253 1313, www.facebook.com/elephantgrounds
Corner Kitchen Café
Sat right opposite leafy Hollywood Road Park is Corner Kitchen Café. This place buzzes like a hive (especially during the weekend) and with good reason: the layout is bright and breezy, the location is a sun trap and the menu is on point. I’m a big fan of the flat whites here – they’re perfectly poured and not a ‘latte in disguise’ as tends to be the case at other coffee spots around town. If you’re in need of breakfast inspiration, give the huevos rancheros here a whirl – the portion size isn’t huge but it’s incredibly tasty. As mentioned, this place gets really busy during the weekend, so be prepared to wait if you want a table or (and this is not a bad plan ‘B’) grab your coffee in a takeaway cup and go sit in the park.
Corner Kitchen Café, G/F, 226 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 2803 2822, www.corner-kitchen.com/about_us/our-cafe
While this coffee shop might come across as simple and low key from street view, it’s worth popping into if you’re in Sheung Wan. Located in a quiet but fast-developing nook of the neighbourhood (opposite La Rotisserie), Brew Bros serves coffee made with care. Although service here isn’t exactly lightning fast, the hand-drip coffee is worth the wait. The iced lattes here are especially good – they taste great and are served in glass jars with funky straws (Instagram alert!).
Brew Bros, 33 Hillier St, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 2572 0238, www.facebook.com/brewbroscoffee
Although Hong Kong’s café scene has never been in better shape, reliable coffee and tasty food on the go can still be tricky to find. If you’re short on time, Oolaa Express is a great go-to in Wan Chai. Unlike the flagship Oolaa on Bridges Street and Oolaa Petite on nearby Star Street, Oolaa Express is a stripped back version of the much-loved restaurant chain. While there is an option to dine in if you want to, everything here is geared up to take away. The standard of coffee is consistent and Oolaa’s range of signature salads, wraps and sandwiches make this a good spot to grab breakfast or lunch.
Oolaa Express, Area A, 1/F, 28 Hennessy Rd, Wan Chai,2572 0188 Hong Kong, www.casteloconcepts.com/our-venues/oolaa-express