After several years of nurturing and growing, Hong Kong’s Specialty Coffee has gone worldwide, boasting several world champions. But in a city where Starbucks, Pacific Coffee and instant powder still reign supreme, how did the Specialty Coffee take root, and where will it head in the future? Jackie Lo, Barista of Gokan Lounge explores the past, present and future of Specialty Coffee culture in Hong Kong.
Jackie Lo, Barista // Gokan Lounge
Coffee comes in droplets; Coffee Culture comes in waves.
The scene of Specialty Coffee in Hong Kong has never been as vibrant as we see today. In recent years, even through social movements and the midst of a pandemic, the number of coffee shops rose exponentially.
Should we be happy or worried about the massive appearance of coffee shops in Hong Kong, and what does it mean for our place in the world of Specialty Coffee?
The number of coffee shops during these years rose exponentially, even throughout the times of social movements, and in the midst of the pandemic. Should we be happy, or should we be worried about the massive appearance of coffee shops in Hong Kong? Where exactly are we in the world of Specialty Coffee?
The Beginnings of Coffee Culture in Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s coffee culture started in the 2010s, when talented baristas from overseas, mainly from Australia and Europe, started to bring in elements of Specialty Coffee. That is when we started to discuss coffee that is ‘acidic’, ‘light roasted’, and served in independent coffee shops other than Starbucks and Pacific Coffee.
With this seed planted, the term ‘Third Wave Coffee’ started to gain exposure locally, referring to a wave of coffee cultured that started abroad, where people became more aware of how to drink coffee by its origins, and focused on the flavour characteristics of coffee just as wine sommeliers do.
After several years of nurturing and growing, Hong Kong’s Specialty Coffee has gone worldwide, boasting several world champions. In 2014 and 2015, Baristas from The Cupping Room, Kapo Chiu and Dawn Chan, competed in the World Barista Championships. In 2016, Lok Chan from Craft Coffee Roaster took Champion in the World Cup Tasters Championship, 2016. People are starting to recognize the consistently high cup quality and persistent breakthroughs of Hong Kong’s Coffee Practitioners.
Hong Kong Coffee goes international
Nowadays, Hong Kong’s coffee scene boasts appearances on the List of World Finalists, Sponsored Equipment Brands, and Green Coffee Auction Bidders. In this way, we we are proud enough to say this industry has a consolidated foundation in the World of Specialty Coffee.
But as the industry continues to strives further, what would be the next trend of Specialty Coffee in Hong Kong?
I would boldly assume the prevalence of a “C2H, Coffee Shop to Home” service and education to be the coming wave of Specialty Coffee. Not only triggered by the work from home culture from the pandemic, people are now craving for high quality coffee they can make with their own hands, in their own homes. As demand grows, us as Baristas should work on how to support our customers with our professional knowledge and resources.
Still, the transcendence of Specialty Coffee does not imply we cannot look back to the good old days when we first learn about coffee. To me, our coffee culture is an accumulative concept, Second Wave Coffee and Third Wave Coffee should never eliminate each other, but to serve as different parts of one’s coffee journey. After all, quality and consistency is key to us coffee professionals.
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