18 Grams, Times Square

The words "18 GRAMS" in white in a black circle. Some stylised coffee beans are drawn above the 18.My first experience of speciality coffee in Hong Kong was at the Causeway Bay branch of roaster/coffee shop chain, 18 Grams. Two days later, I found myself in Times Square (opposite Café Corridor) and decided to pop into the 18 Grams there. Although “pop in” might be over-stating things since it took me almost an hour to find it!

18 Grams’ Times Square branch is inside the City Super super market, which itself is in the basement of Times Square. Occupying a simple, triangular stand, with seating along two sides of the counter, 18 Grams only serves coffee, plus the usual retail selection of beans and coffee-related kit. There’s a more limited offering than at Causeway Bay, but that’s to be expected, with just espresso (a house-blend), several single-origins on V60 and cold-brew. What surprised me was the relaxed atmosphere, making it the ideal place to linger over your coffee.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The Times Square complex in Hong Kong can be confusing. However, head in this door...
  • ... then look for this curving staircase that leads down to the basement...
  • ... pausing on the way to admire the Tiffany Dome above the stairwell.
  • This picture gives a better feel for the colours.
  • At the bottom of the stairs, head for the City Super store, where, at the back, you'll find...
  • ... the triangular-shaped 18 Grams coffee stand. You can sit at either side of the counter.
  • Sitting on the left puts you by the espresso machine and grinders, but you can't see much.
  • If you sit on the right, however, you get a view of the espresso machine in action.
  • 18 Grams mostly sells coffee, but there is a retail section, selling beans and coffee kit.
  • There are plenty of Aeropresses and this, a rather lovely-looking syphon kit.
  • There are also branded jugs, cups and other kit, such as this grinder.
  • You're in the wider coffee section of City Super, so there's a wide range of beans for sale.
  • There are local roasters, such as the Coffee Academics, although the surprise was...
  • ... the appearance of multiple bags of beans from Devon's Roastworks! It's a small world.
  • Down to business. You order and pay at the right-hand side of the counter.
  • There's a comprehensive coffee menu...
  • ... while this sign gives details of the specific beans on the counter that day.
  • The beans are also on display in their packaging on the counter-top.
  • This rather magnificent cold brewer stands on the corner of the counter.
  • However, I was more interested in something from the espresso machine...
  • ... which was serving the Big Bad Wolf espresso blend that day.
  • My espresso, in a classic white cup. That's all I was going to have, but my barista, Iris...
  • ...talked me into trying a pour-over with the Ecuador Finca San Alego.
  • Step one, zero the scales...
  • ... then rinse the filter paper of the V60.
  • Next, grind the coffee with the ubiquitous EK-43 grinder.
  • The coffee grounds go into the prepared filter paper...
  • ... and we're off!
  • The first pour is relatively short, deisgned to let the coffee bloom...
  • ... which is what we're doing here.
  • Next comes the main pour.
  • 18 Grams employs a continuous pour technique...
  • ... where the water is poured slowly...
  • ... and continuously into the V60...
  • ... until the requisite weight is reached.
  • Iris, my barista, also made me a V60 at the Causeway Bay branch two days earlier.
  • Almost done.
  • Now we just wait until the water filters through...
  • ... and then we serve (and drink, obviously).
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If you don’t know where it is, the Times Square branch of 18 Grams, which opened in 2013, is not easy to find. The trick is to ignore the soaring atrium at the centre of Times Square (although that’s worth more than a second look; indeed I have spent half an hour wandering around there in the past) and instead head towards the back. Here you’ll find double doors leading to a sweeping staircase that descends to the basement. You’ll know you’ve reached the right spot when, looking up, you see the glorious Tiffany Dome above you.

Once you reach the basement, head into City Super, making your way towards the back, where you’ll find 18 Grams in the general coffee section. Right across from 18 Grams is a line of shelves with coffee from local roasters such as The Coffee Academics, along with international brands, including Illy and Peets from the USA, plus, most surprising of all, Devon’s Roastworks. It’s a small world!

18 Grams occupies a triangular stand, the back wall given over to retail shelves, with the remaining two sides providing counter-seating on tall, transparent plastic stools.  The left-hand side has the espresso machine and grinders, while the till’s on the right. If you like watching your coffee being made, it also has a much better view.

What surprised me was just how peaceful and relaxing it was, particularly compared to the bustling Causeway Bay branch. Like the Kin-Kin Coffee Stand at Festival Foods, while surrounded by the store, it’s a quiet spot, leaving you free to chat with the barista. You can also use City Super’s Wifi for 30 minutes if you need to check up on social media or surf the web, plus, this being Hong Kong, the air-conditioning was a welcome relief.

I’d hoped to try the Black Sheep blend I’d had at Causeway Bay, but I discovered that 18 Grams roasts several blends, with the different branches using different blends, depending on the customer base. The 18 Grams at Times Square serves Big Bad Wolf, a blend of beans from Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Colombia and Brazil. It had a bold, front of the mouth taste and was surprisingly bright, but not too bright.

Originally, I’d only intended to stay for a quick espresso, but in the way that these things go, I got talking to the barista, Iris, who had also served me at Causeway Bay. She persuaded me to stay for a V60 of the Ecuador Finca San Alego single origin (the other choices that day were a Jamaica Blue Mountain and an Indonesian Sulawesi). This proved to be an inspired choice, a lovely, mellow coffee which really improved and evolved as it cooled while I was chatting with Iris. By the time I got to the bottom of the cup, it was very fine indeed!

TIMES SQUARE • 1 MATHESON STREET • CAUSEWAY BAY • HONG KONG
www.18grams.com +852 5641 8398
Monday 10:00 – 22:00 Roaster 18 Grams (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 10:00 – 22:00 Seating Counter
Wednesday 10:00 – 22:00 Food N/A
Thursday 10:00 – 22:00 Service Counter
Friday 10:00 – 23:00 Cards Cash, Octopus
Saturday 10:00 – 23:00 Wifi Free (30 minutes)
Sunday 10:00 – 22:00 Power No
Chain Local Visits 23rd September 2016

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2 thoughts on “18 Grams, Times Square

  1. Pingback: 18 Grams, Causeway Bay | Brian's Coffee Spot

  2. Pingback: Café Corridor | Brian's Coffee Spot

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