Top coffee spots: Tsim Sha Tsui
While coffee shops haven’t barnstormed Kowloon in quite the same way as the Island, there is still an excellent selection of cafes where you can get your caffeine fix
Need nothing but the finest coffees to shift gears into performance mode? Caffe Vergnano 1882 is an expert in creating swanky coffee corners for the city’s white collar workers. Nestled in three commercial hubs – IFC Mall, Elements Mall, and The Lee Gardens, the coffee spots attract loyal regulars into a red and black, sleek Italian interior with delicious coffee bean aroma. Vergnano’s balanced 100 per cent Arabica blends are created by slow roasting nine of the finest Arabica beans. It produces a flavoursome espresso with the slightest bitterness, very little acidity, and a pleasant aftertaste. Before your first sip, the delicate ‘1882’ chocolate print on the rich surface is a sweet reminder that here coffee has been a passion for over four generations. Elements Mall, Shop 1021A, Podium 1, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2196 8340.
Manager’s choice: The 1882 is a pleasing shot of hot chocolate in the midst of a well extracted espresso and a smooth layer of naturally sweet frothy milk. $38.
Owners Fiona and Terry Cheung decided to open Crema Coffee after going to Piancenza, Italy, for training by renowned latte artist and barista Luigi Luis. Tucked away in Tsim Sha Tsui East, this homely café serves just one blend, the Malahar Gold from India, done so that they don’t have an overabundance of unused stock. The Malahar is a ‘monsoon coffee’, which means that the beans are spread out on a warehouse floor and mature while moisture-laden winds from the Arabic Sea blow over them. Monsoon coffee beans are generally known for their low acidity, and were specifically chosen for this reason – the couple found that most Hongkongers don’t like overly sharp flavours. They buy the beans uncooked, and roast everything in the shop on their Imex Pro1500. The espressos here, made on a La Marzocca machine, are smooth and full-bodied with notes of hazelnut. 67 Mody Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2369 0338.
Manager’s special: It has to be their artistic lattes, which are excellently designed. Ask specifically for the rabbit. $30.
First Cup Coffee
A favourite of Italian expatriates, First Cup Coffee has built itself a crowd of regulars who converse with owner Mark Schmidt as if they had known each other for years – and they probably have. While not the most flashy of locations, First Cup Coffee has been open for over a decade, building a reputation for a truly authentic espresso. Schmidt, who feel in love with the bean during an extended stay in Ethiopia, has a La Marzocco machine, and prefers to use mainly single origin beans instead of blends – the one house blend they do have, a mix of Brazilian, Nicaraguan, and Columbian beans, is used mainly for lattes. The espresso they make is a strong, complex blend with mild acidity and smoothness that is reminiscent of the northern Italian style. Due to changing business circumstances, the cafe now serves a popular English breakfast in the morning, and operates as a bar at night – although they remain dedicated to caffeine. 45-51 Chatham Rd (entrance on Prat Ave), Tsim Sha Tsui, 2316 7793.
Manager’s special: Tanzania – medium roast, well-rounded, with strong acidity and a slight nose of caramel. $31.
This TST store has a unique concept; it’s a combination fashion boutique and café, which, accordingly, attracts a diverse clientele, from local university students to foreign fashionistas. Max Chow, their head barista and supervisor, is only in his early 20s, and is completely self taught in both latte art and espresso pulling. His youth and DIY style fits in perfectly with the coffee menu, which has a huge mix of classic and creative beverages, such as the Tiramisu Coffee – espresso and tiramisu cake in one ($38). The beans are mainly sourced from Italy, Columbia, and Nicaragua and are made on an Italian Rancilio machine – the espresso has a long aftertaste with medium complexity and high acidity. 48 Cameron Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2311 4223.
Manager’s special: Rose Coffee. Made of rose syrup, espresso, and cold milk; it is topped with vanilla cream garnished with a rose petal. $38.See also:
The decaf debate