If you’re used to buckling down and working for several hours in a coffee shop, you may run into some trouble in Hong Kong. Unlike American coffee shops, those in Hong Kong are primarily for meals and socializing, and you might get some odd looks if you pull out a laptop. However, coffee culture is slowly changing, drawing inspiration from the U.S. and Australia. The last few years have seen a surge in specialty coffee shops and breweries, many of which have become hotspots for freelancers and students.
If that sounds like your cup of tea (or coffee), here are eight of Hong Kong’s best coffee shops to work in.
NOC Coffee Co.
Newly opened in November 2017, this airy roastery lab is just one of many coffee shops popping up in the trendy Sai Ying Pun district. NOC stands for “not only coffee,” and the menu doesn’t disappoint. It’s filled with all-day breakfasts, açai bowls, risottos and more. The shop’s floor-to-ceiling windows, concrete floors and wood beams complete the feel of a minimalist, industrial loft. They serve a variety of coffees, ranging from Burundi blends to the popular (and Instagrammable) matcha latté. The free wifi and relaxing ambiance are great for productivity, and you’ll see many fellow laptop-bearing customers on any given day. Although there are three other NOC Coffee Co. locations, this is the largest—and as all Hong Kong natives know, spacious shops are hard to come by.
321 Des Voeux Road West, Sai Ying Pun
Opendoor Café + Courtyard
Another recent addition to Sai Ying Pun is the Opendoor Café + Courtyard. It is a small but laid-back space, with greenery on the walls and an open-air courtyard in the back. It has quickly become a neighborhood staple, with regular events and local artists’ work on the walls. Wifi is available, there are outlets near the tables and the courtyard tends to be quieter, making for a perfect afternoon getaway. If you want to bring a canine friend, go ahead—the cafe is pet-friendly. Coffee offerings are a little more limited, with only a few classic options, but all their drinks can be made with soy or almond milk. If caffeine gives you the jitters, there are also health-conscious smoothies and teas. Their menu is much more expansive; go for the cauliflower rice or the range of pasta options.
120 Connaught Road West, Sai Ying Pun
Little Cove Espresso
Little Cove Espresso isn’t particularly large, but it has become a beloved part of the Sai Kung community—and for good reason. The Australian-style coffee shop sits right on the edge of Sai Kung Plaza, the lively center of town, and offers outdoor seating on sunny days. The bright interior is flooded with natural light, and the wood slat tables add a touch of warmth. In true Australian style, the food is light and healthy. The Mediterranean quinoa bowl is quite popular, as are the smoothie bowls and chia pudding. If there’s anywhere that does a proper Australian flat white, it’s Little Cove Espresso. Not to mention, they have the all-important wifi and outlets.
34 See Cheung Street, Sai Kung
The Coffee Academics opened its first location in 2010 and has quickly become a favorite spot for brunches and quality coffee. There are now eight locations throughout Hong Kong, and each offers its own perks. The Morrison Hill location is best for settling down for a few hours. With tons of natural light, an exposed brick wall and bikes suspended above the counter, it’s spacious, charming and comfortable. They serve a variety of coffees from different roasters, as well as a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu if you’re looking for something heartier. Although it gets buzzy on weekends, you’ll have no problem finding a table on weekdays—unlike the flagship store in Causeway Bay, which is almost always packed. Best of all, they have free wifi.
225 Wanchai Road, Wan Chai
Inspired by film director Stanley Kubrick, this isn’t just a coffee shop. It’s also a bookstore, with rows upon rows of bookshelves and magazine displays. And, in accordance with its Kubrick brand, it’s located next to the cinema Broadway Cinemathique. Their coffee list goes beyond the regular lattés and cappuccinos. Try the Café Flora for rose and lavender flavors, or the Bailey’s Coffee for an extra kick. Their food options are impressive as well, with squid ink pasta, quinoa and avocado, and even finger foods like chicken nuggets. If you want to browse new titles, sip single origin coffee and catch a film, this is the place for you.
Shop H2, Properous Garden, 3 Public Square Street, Yau Ma Tei
Black Sugar Coffee
This cozy coffeehouse is particularly well known for two things—their food and their pet Shiba Inu, who might be there if you’re lucky. Even if he’s not, the shop is still filled with reminders of him, including figurines and wall art of the mascot pup. Although the space is narrow and can’t accommodate too many customers, the inviting atmosphere is well-lit and comfortable, and wifi and outlets are available. Sit down at the long tables for an afternoon of work, and try their wide range of dishes—the Salmon Eggs Benedict is particularly popular, and their Iberico Ham pasta and lobster soup are not to be missed, either.
8 Peace Avenue, Ho Man Tin
Café Hay Fever
Flower Market Road is famous for the seemingly endless floral shops, bursting with color and fragrance. Café Hay Fever, however, is filled not only with roses and orchids but also a small coffee shop. There are only a few tables, but it feels like an escape into a magical garden. Greenery hangs all around the tables, and potted plants decorate the surfaces. They only offer a few classic coffees, but they do serve a specialty ice drip coffee and organic fair-trade teas. If you’re feeling peckish, choose from their selection of pastries, cakes and pies. In the midst of Hong Kong’s most crowded district, Café Hay Fever’s return to nature is a welcome respite.
62-64 Flower Market Road, Mong Kok
Like Sai Ying Pun, Kennedy Town has been getting trendier by the year, with new restaurants offering everything from Japanese fusion tacos to craft beers. Opened in 2014, Waffling Beans has established itself as a local favorite, famous for its signature Belgian waffles. Aside from the unique dishes (such as the 72-hour coffee-braised short ribs), customers also love their coffee, and the piccolo latté is a fan favorite. The cheery interior offers plenty of seating, and the high ceilings make the space feel larger than it is. The free wifi and low-key atmosphere draw customers who often stay for hours. It gets quite busy on weekends, so take advantage of the slower weekdays and avoid the lunch rush.
New Fortune House, North Street, Kennedy Town