Taking coffee to a higher level.
After the interesting trip to Lima, Peru it was now time to fly back to Hong Kong again. As always I planned my coffee hotspot search in advance and I really wanted to visit The Cupping Room this time. The Cupping Room has four shops in Hong Kong and plays host to the promising Barista Ben Wong.
On my way to Hong Kong
During the flight to a destination the crew always talks about the things they want to do when they get there. As I mentioned my hotspot-search to the cockpit-crew, the 2nd officer suddenly revealed to be a coffee-lover much like me. Before long he whipped out photo’s of a magnificent coffee machine, a Mazzer Jolly and a whole library of knowledge about coffee machines and grinders. As to be expected we both set out on the journey the next day.
The Hong Kong Hotspots
After arriving in Hong Kong I decided to visit another hotspot in Hong Kong which is called The Coffee Academics. The Coffee Academics is located in the busy area of Causeway Bay, and is trendy, hip and crowded. When I got the menu presented to me, my eyes went wide: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe AND Blue Mountain Coffee! For those who dont know why this is something special: both are considered to be part of the best 5 coffee’s in the world. Immediately I ordered the Blue Mountain Coffee, even though the price was a steep 20 euro’s for 150ml. Unfortunately I was disappointed by the waiter who told me they ran out of Blue Mountain.
Alright, a Yirgacheffe then! I chose a cold brew (150ml) style and was pleasantly surprised when they served it in a wineglass. This coffee doesn’t deserve any less! I guess I dont need to tell you that it tasted wonderful.
Enter the Cupping Room
The next morning the 2nd officer and I got up early to go to The Cupping Room Roastery in Sheung Wan. Located opposite to Blake Garden in a quiet area of Hong Kong, it is the perfect spot for a place like this. The interior is minimal, the crowd hushed and the ambiance is one of excellence. This is so different from the mass-production ambiance you find in Starbucks or Pacific Coffee.
We were welcomed by a young looking guy behind the counter who was expertly preparing an order for a customer. This wasn’t just a guy making a coffee, this was Ben Wong. Benny Wong came in 4th at the World Brewers Cup(WBrC) in 2016. He is the HK BrC Champion 2016 and placed 2nd in the Asia Barista Competition in 2016. Ben is considered among the top 6 best brewers in the world.
Ordering a tasting
After looking at the menu we decided to order the Three Filter Tasting: a small coffee tasting with three single origin pour-over coffee’s. That sounded like fun, especially since Ben has made Pour-over coffee his expertise. Ben started to prepare the Carlos Imbachi, Kirimara and Duromina coffee’s and something hit me like a rock to my face. I suddenly realised that I totally didn’t have a clue as to how to make a perfect pour-over coffee.
Ben was on top of everything while chatting to us. While explaining what he was doing, he was measuring something in the coffee by a small but impressive looking device. Ben told us he was measuring the TDS (total disolved Solid, say the total amount of solved coffee) in the brew. While chatting he kept constant watch over the readings. The maximum amount of coffee in the pour over shouldn’t exceed 1.45%, he told us, and needless to say it didn’t.
It all came natural to him and while he kept brewing, information and answers kept pouring out.
Perfection in a cup
I have had my share of pour-overs in my life, but nothing ever came close to this! The coffee’s were in perfect harmony, served in the right order and every tone and flavour was there. The 2nd officer and I looked at each other and were baffled by what we saw and tasted. Have we ever tasted a good cup of pour-over coffee ever before? The answer was a big fat ‘no’ if this was the standard. But after discussing the coffee’s, and the way Ben worked his magic, we came to the conclusion that this was an absolute masterclass and it would take us years to come close to this level. But hey, he didn’t win all those prices because he welcomes people in a friendly manner right?
Satisfied and full of new gotten knowledge (Ben kept his shop open for an extra 30 minutes to answer all our questions) we went back to the hotel. If you are ever in Hong Kong do yourself a favour and visit The Cupping Room -Roastery. It isn’t in a hip and trendy area; but the shop itself, the level of excellence and the friendly Ben Wong will make it worth your while, and that is an understatement!
See you in my next blog!