18 Grams, Causeway Bay

The words "18 GRAMS" in white in a black circle. Some stylised coffee beans are drawn above the 18.18 grams is a local café/roastery chain based in Hong Kong, with eight branches spread out over Hong Kong Island and on the mainland in Kowloon. Founded in 2010, the Causeway Bay branch, just west of Victoria Park, is one of the first branches to open back in 2011. It’s a tiny spot, with just enough room for a handful of tables inside and a couple more outside down a side alley. However, what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in character. And excellent coffee, of course.

18 grams has a standard espresso-based menu, serving the Black Sheep house-blend. This is supported by interesting options, such as a Shakerato, and a range of single-origin filter coffees. 18 grams is currently roasting eight different single-origins, two of which are available as pour-overs through the V60, either straight up or over ice. There’s also bulk-brew or cold brew if you don’t want to wait.

You’d think that would be enough for such a small place, but no. 18 grams has an impressive range of food as well, all cooked on-site in the tiny kitchen space which is nestled behind the counter along with the espresso machine and grinders.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • 18 Grams, on Cannon Street, Causeway Bay. First Coffee Spot in Hong Kong.
  • It's a neat, wedged-shaped space on a corner by an alleyway.
  • The alleyway in more detail. You can sit down here: it's relatively quiet and shady.
  • The view of 18 Grams if you happen to be coming up the alley.
  • The little fold-down shelf proved very popular seating...
  • ... with its handy menu for ordering directly above you.
  • Talking of menus, the breakfast menu is chalked up on the pillar facing Cannon Street...
  • ... while the A-board gives more options. Those Aussies get everywhere!
  • Finally, the other side of the pillar lists just about every sort of coffee known to man.
  • Stepping inside, there's really not a lot to 18 Grams. The doorway is on the left in this photo.
  • As you enter, there's this table to the right...
  • ... seen here from the other side.
  • Otherwise, tucked away in the corner opposite the door, are these two tables.
  • The tables in more detail...
  • ... with the retails shelves above them.
  • 18 Grams sells all manner of coffee-making kit...
  • ... as well as coffee beans, all roasted in-house in Wan Chai.
  • There's lots of natural light, although I was very taken by these two light-fittings.
  • Obligatory close up.
  • The counter, with an interesting kink one third of the way along, to align with the wedge.
  • The menu is handily chalked above the counter.
  • There's not much space back there. Filter coffee and all the food is prepared on the right...
  • ... while the espresso machine and its Mythos 1 grinder get the left-hand side.
  • I started with a flat white, my first coffee of the day and of the visit.
  • The latte art pattern is simple, but effective...
  • ... while the milk held it all the way to the bottom of the cup. Impressive!
  • I followed that up with some filter coffee. The full list of beans is to the right...
  • ... while today's choice is in these jars on the counter. I had the curiously-named Fruit Bomb.
  • Step one, rise the filter paper (which also warms the carafe).
  • Hot water is poured into this pouring kettle and the temperature is checked.
  • As the ground coffee is added to the V60, so the water's cooled to the correct temperature.
  • Next step, the first pour...
  • ... after which we let it bloom. Notice the lid is now on the kettle to keep the heat in.
  • The second pour was basically one very long, slow, careful pour...
  • ... which was almost continuous.
  • And rather hard to convey in photographs. Almost done.
  • Now we're ready to serve.
  • The coffee is poured into a pre-warmed cup...
  • ... and there it is, ready to drink.
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The first coffee shop I visited after arriving in Hong Kong, 18 grams is tucked away on Cannon Street (presumably named after the Noon Day Gun which is on the harbour side across the busy dual-carriageway at the end of the street). A tiny, wedge-shaped spot, the broad end faces Cannon Street, while the long side runs down an alley to the left.

The front’s one large, multi-paned window, while the entrance is from the alley to the left. There’s no door, just heavy plastic strips hanging down to keep warm air out and cool air in (yes, 18 grams is air-conditioned, a very important feature!). That said, the alley’s quite shaded and away from the traffic, so sitting down there is definitely feasible, either on one of two stools at a fold-down bar, or at a small, round table.

Inside it’s a bright, cosy spot with lots of natural light. The counter’s to your left, facing the window to the right, with just enough space between the two for the seating. Immediately to your right as you enter is a long table with a couple of benches, while another bench, padded this time, occupies the far wall, with two two-person tables facing you. Finally there’s a stand-up bar along the outside of the window on Cannon Street, but I don’t know if anyone uses it.

18 grams has an impressive food range for somewhere so small, particularly once you’ve seen the tiny kitchen space behind counter. The menus are on the tables and include soup, salad, sandwiches, Aussie and veggie all-day breakfasts and various sweet things. The coffee menu’s also there, although the choices of bean are up by the counter. Once you’ve ordered, go back to your seat and your coffee (and food) will be brought to you. This even applies to takeaway customers, most of whom wait outside because there’s no space in the shop!

As well as making you coffee to drink, 18 Grams will also sell you beans and coffee-related kit. Some of the single-origins have intriguing names, such as Army Knife or Fruit Bomb, and a selection of these are for sale, while two more are available as individually-priced pour-overs. A word of warning though: Hong Kong coffee is expensive. In 18 Grams, which is typical of the shops I visited, it’s roughly £3 for an espresso, £4 per flat white, £4.50 for bulk-brew and cold brew is £6. Pour-overs range from £6 to £10, while the beans are £17 to £23 for 200g.

I started with a rich, creamy flat white, very smooth, with beautifully steamed milk. I couldn’t really taste any of the particular notes of the coffee though, so went back for a filter coffee. I had a choice of Fruit Bomb, a Panamanian single-origin, or an Ecuadorian single-origin. On asking for a recommendation, I was pointed towards the Fruit Bomb, which I paid a shade under £9 for.

It was made with great care and attention, using a small V60. The water was first transferred from an ordinary kettle to a pouring kettle, where the temperature was checked before pouring. The regular bloom was followed by a single, slow, almost continuous pour. Everything was weighed, of course, the paper pre-rinsed and everything pre-warmed. All-in-all, an excellent technique.

The resulting cup was pleasant enough, without being mind-blowingly good. It evolved and matured as it cooled, developing more fruity notes and a little more body. Had I been charged £9 for it in London, I would have been disappointed, but once I’d recalibrated my price-scale for Hong Kong, it seemed about right.

UNIT C, G/F • 15 CANNON STREET • CAUSEWAY BAY • HONG KONG
www.18grams.com +852 2893 8988
Monday 08:00 – 20:00 Roaster 18 Grams (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 20:00 Seating Tables, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 08:00 – 20:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cakes
Thursday 08:00 – 20:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 20:00 Cards Octopus, Cash
Saturday 08:00 – 20:00 Wifi No
Sunday 08:00 – 20:00 Power No
Chain Local Visits 21st September 2016

You can also see what I made of 18 Grams’ branch in the basement of Times Square.


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6 thoughts on “18 Grams, Causeway Bay

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