Just two hours from Manila — less time than you’d spend on EDSA at peak hour — Hong Kong boasts neon lights, savory food and some awesome coffee places.
When last there in 2016, I visited these five shops which you should include in your itinerary:
Knockbox Coffee Company
As a first-time HK visitor, I enjoyed walking the streets of Kowloon en route to Knockbox. The small place is usually packed, but I enjoyed the lively vibe. It was not intimidating to sit by the bar and chat with the baristas, who even said “Kamusta?” when they learned that I am Filipino.
Latte and affogato for here please!
Address: G/F, Hak Po Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon
Cupping Room Coffee Roasters
There are several Cupping Rooms around Hong Kong. I visited the one in Wan Chai, and instantly loved the tile artwork that says COFFEE upon entering the shop.
Cupping Room Coffee Roasters is home to barista champions, so don’t be shy to geek out.
Address: 32 Swatow Street, Wan Chai
Like Cupping Room, The Coffee Academics is a multi-awarded coffee shop with branches around Hong Kong. They are only a few blocks away from each other in the Wan Chai District. But what sets Coffee Academics apart is that it is a homegrown Hong Kong chain now present in Singapore, Thailand, China, Korea and (soon, we hope) the Philippines.
I loved the brick walls by the bar across the window as I enjoyed my flat white. They have an extensive menu of coffee, tea, brunch and desserts.
We’re looking forward to the opening of Coffee Academics PH (@thecoffeeacademicsph) in BGC.
Address: 35 Johnston Road, Wan Chai
I put this on my Hong Kong list specifically for their ice cream sandwiches — which were unfortunately sold out when I got to their outlet, a short walk from Coffee Academics.
Years after I visited Hong Kong, Elephant Grounds (@elephantgroundsph) has opened two shops in Manila (BGC and Podium), serving single-origin coffee with modern Asian cuisine — try the prawn paste chicken — and yes, the ice cream sandwiches that for me, are worth the wait.
Address: 8 Wing Fung Street, Wan Chai
Probably my favorite among the shops I visited, Omotesando is the perfect minimalist space to experience coffee to the fullest. The wood-paneled interior with large mirrors perfectly highlights the coffee, prepared by barista dressed like cool, mad scientists.
My espresso shot was well-balanced — chocolatey, fruity and sweet! You may cop a few paper filters for your home brewing too.
Omotesando is mapped around the world — from Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok to London — and eventually Manila, according to their Instagram page. Fingers crossed!
Address: Shop No. 24-25 G/F Lee Tung Avenue No. 200 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai
If you have the extra time, hop a ferry to Macau for egg tarts and:
This tiny corner coffee shop (unrelated to the one in Manila) serves one of the best affogatos I’ve ever tasted!
Address: 19 R/C Rua de Abreu Nunes, Macau
Heads up: coffee shop prices are higher in Hong Kong than in Manila, so be prepared.
It’s been four years, and the world has changed. But I still look forward to returning to Hong Kong and its fast-moving coffee scene.