The Cupping Room Central

The square facade of The Cupping Room in Central, facing onto the steeply-sloping Cochrane Street.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 Cupping Room in Central, a two-storey building in a forest of skyscrapers.
  • The entrance is on the steeply-sloping Cochrane Street.
  • The A-boards proclaim the food offering, which is very western in style (and very good!).
  • Let's go in, shall we?
  • The view that greets you on entering: cake ahead, counter to the right, stairs to the left.
  • There's some seating down here, mostly this bench seat on the right...
  • ... and beyond it, in the second window, a four-person window-bar. This is opposite...
  • ... the business-end of the counter, where all the coffee is made.
  • However, the majority of the seating is upstairs.
  • The rules regarding the upstairs seating are clearly displayed at the bottom of the stairs.
  • When you get to the top, you find yourself in this really bright, spacious room.
  • There's a row of two-person tables running along underneath the window...
  • ... and two groups of two-person tables next to the banister by the stairs.
  • Right at the front of the room is this long, ten-person communal table...
  • ... which overlooks the entrance to The Cupping Room.
  • Finally, tucked away to the right of the communal table is the last of the tables...
  • ... another two-person one which sits directly over the stairs.
  • Time to go back downstairs (although you can order upstairs if you like).
  • If you did that though, you'd miss drooling over the cakes.
  • There are some traditional-looking pastries on the right...
  • ... but it was these, on the left, that caught my eye, particularly the cruffins!
  • Sitting on top of the cakes is this amazing lego model of The Cupping Room.
  • The shelf on the left-hand wall holds bags of coffee and displays various awards.
  • The Cupping Room's baristas have won all sorts of competitions, while the owner recently...
  • ... finished fourth in the World Barista Championships (2015) & in the Brewers Cup (2016)!
  • The comprehensive coffee menu, with the choice of single-origin filters on the right.
  • Meanwhile, if you want more detail, there's this handy clipboard.
  • If it's food you're after, these are the options (although this is the Wan Chai menu!).
  • Meanwhile, from lunchtime onwards, the signature dishes are also available.
  • Right, to business. The gleaming Black Eagle says that The Cupping Room means business...
  • ... while the EK-43 and the filter set-up is tucked away further along the counter.
  • Having had filter at the Wan Chai branch, I thought it was time to try the espresso.
  • I love watching espresso extract, although I fear I was in danger of getting in the way!
  • I started off my last day in Hong Kong with a flat white, served in a handleless cup.
  • For breakfast, I had the amazing Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon (Eggs Royale).
  • And finally, to see me on my way, a shot of the house-blend as an espresso.
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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.

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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