I began my exploration of the Hong Kong coffee scene with Thursday’s Coffee Spot, 18 Grams, which was the first place that I visited. I thought it would be fitting, now that I’ve left Hong Kong, to follow that up with the final place I visiting during my short stay, The Cupping Room in Central. I’d previously visited the Wan Chai branch, also on my first day in Hong Kong, coming away suitably impressed.
I was therefore keen to try the Central branch before I left. On my way to the airport, bags safely checked-in, I made the short detour from the airport train station to The Cupping Room Central for my Sunday morning breakfast and for what turned out to be my two final coffees before leaving Hong Kong.
Spread over two compact floors, The Cupping Room serves a house-blend and seasonal single-origin on espresso, plus five more single-origins on pour-over, with bulk-brew and iced-filter if you’re in a hurry. All the coffee is roasted for The Cupping Room by Sweet Bloom in America, before being flown over to Hong Kong. If you’re hungry, there’s an impressive range of (mostly Western) food served all day, plus some delicious-looking cakes.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
The Central and Wan Chai branches of The Cupping Room share many features, not least outstanding coffee. They’re also both spread over two floors, although whereas Wan Chai is wide and short, Central is long and thin. Wan Chai’s atmosphere is more relaxed, compared to the bustle of Central, where downstairs is more for takeaway customers or for sitting in with coffee and cake. In contrast, Central’s upstairs space is more relaxed, offering table service during meal times. Outside of these hours, you’re welcome to take your coffee upstairs.
The Cupping Room’s short side faces the steeply-sloping Cochrane Street, the long side running along Wellington Street. The entrance (and address) is on Cochrane Street, the sliding door depositing you in front of the ridiculously-tempting cake display. If you’re eating, veer left where a long flight of steps takes you upstairs. At the top, you’ll be seated, handed a menu and your order will be taken.
Alternatively, go around to your right, where you’ll find the counter facing Wellington Street, its back to the stairs. There’s some seating down here, starting with a bench underneath the first window to your right, although you’ll suffer from the to-and-fro of the customers. At better option is the window-bar underneath the second window. Tucked away opposite the far end of the counter, it’s quieter down here. Finally, there’s an L-shaped bench-seat in the corner to the left of the door. While you’re down here, you can order food at the counter, then head upstairs for a seat, or you can eat downstairs if you really want to.
Upstairs, the layout is simple and rectangular. You arrive at the back, so double back on yourself, where you’ll find two rows of seating. On your right, next to banister overlooking the stairs, are two sets of two-person tables, while on the left, running along the wall under the window, is a row of six two-person tables. Beyond this, effectively at the front of the store, is a long, 10-seater communal table. Like Wan Chai, this is mezzanine-style, a waist-high wall separating it from a small gap overlooking the door downstairs. Finally, around the corner on the right, overlooking the stairs, is another two-person square table.
The décor’s simple, with wooden floors, plain white walls and ceilings. It’s a bright spot with windows on both sides. The front, facing Cochrane Street, is effectively a single window, upstairs and down, while on Wellington Street, each floor has two windows, the upstairs ones being long and thin. There’s music, but very much in background.
When it comes to coffee, The Cupping Room boasts a gleaming Victoria Arduino Black Eagle which takes pride of place to the right of the till. Next comes a Mythos 1 grinder for espresso and beyond that the ubiquitous EK-43 and the bulk-brewers.
I started with a lovely, smooth flat white, made with the house-blend and served in a charming handle-less grey cup. Having had the avocado on toast at Wan Chai, I decided on the Eggs Royale for breakfast. This was superb: eggs poached to perfection, yolks runny, whites firm, with a creamy hollandaise sauce. I rarely order Eggs Royale because sometimes the salmon can be over-powering, but here there was just the right balance of flavours.
Since I was leaving Hong Kong, I counted my pennies, discovering just enough for an espresso, so I indulged in a shot of the house-blend. Here the flavours came through much more clearly. A well-balanced shot, there were fruity notes and a rounded front/roof of the mouth taste. All-in-all, an extremely fitting way to depart Hong Kong!
December 2016: The Cupping Room Central has won the 2016 Best Overseas Coffee Spot Award.
|G/F, 18 COCHRANE STREET • CENTRAL • HONG KONG|
|www.facebook.com/Cuppingroomcentral||+852 2511 3518|
|Monday||08:00 – 17:00||Roaster||Sweet Bloom (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 17:00||Seating||Bar, Benches (downstairs), Tables (upstairs)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 17:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter (downstairs), Table (upstairs)|
|Friday||08:00 – 17:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||09:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free|
|Sunday||09:00 – 18:00||Power||No|
|Chain||Local||Visits||25th September 2016|
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