City of Sadness

Lately, there’s just so much bullying happening around me. That had touched my nerve and became very sensitive to the injustice. I was a very timid person until recently I witnessed an authority had terminated the life of 4 banyan trees that were a century old. It sparked my concern right the way and participated in more online discussion. I questioned why the trees were not trimmed but used the most brutal painful way by chopping them off. A tree expert had suggested that the trees are healthy, only the top section of the wall needed maintenance. However, the Highway Department and its committee consultancy suggested otherwise that there’re signs showing immediate threat to public’s safety and they needed to take action 7pm at night. When there’s no consent but a hasty email notification to the district representatives and councilors. It overrode the normal procedures and more importantly to our concern. The public did not know what’s happening. I only saw what’s remain at the site, I was there pondering and deeply sadden when I only see the bottom roots on the wall of where the trees used to be. It’s no different than executing 4 human and put them on display forever. It’s a visual torture to walk by and see their roots everytime, a reminder of the premature and sneaky decision made by the government authority.

The existence of my blog was to photo document some of the city’s changes around me. I just never expect this quick. I had never imagine when the unwillingly change actually takes place near our neighborhood would feel this way.

The Cause:
A wall tree fell down and injured two pedestrian the month earlier when the last typhoon hit Hong Kong. The tree was huge enough to block the entire two way passage at Bonham Road, Mid-Levels. These other 4 trees i referred to were cut down recently along the same wall 10-20 meters apart.

The Incident History:
Last year almost the same time of a year, a tree fell and killed a pregnant woman while waiting for mini-bus (I was waiting for bus right opposite the street 5 hours earlier in that morning). It’s an unlucky incident and residents in the neighborhood had offered the greatest sympathy to the lost. Later was found out that the fallen tree had fungi infection, its body became hollow and brittle. There were blames on why government did not foresee this dying tree. Much of its attention had diverted to how safe are these non-humanly planted trees on Mid-Levels.

Why These Trees Matter?
Walled trees are the living heritage of Hong Kong. There used to be plenty of them on Mid-Levels, Hong Kong. As more private development activities (expensive apartments) set in place, less and less trees are remaining in the non-private area (roads). Trees are less of the real estate developers’ concern, their one and only concern is how much they could make out of every possible square foot.

These 4 trees on Bonham Road were there even before the World War I. It states the history of what neighborhood had been through. And really the trees and the wall it grew on are what’s unchanged for a century. Thanks to the government, they’d successfully wiped out our district history once again.

Trees are the natural landscape. They’re some nice buffer to our concrete high rises. It marks the overall atmosphere uniquely. Given that so few trees have left, it’s even more unique in a modernized city setting. They are the shelter, the eye reliever, the air cleanser. It’d completely changed the face of a neighborhood. Without these trees, our neighborhood is turning into a ‘city of sadness’ (悲情城市) without a human touch, without a soul (沒人情味).

What We Wanted to See?
They could have fixed the wall. They could have ease off the weight by trimming down some off branches. They could have built a column supporter or mount to prevent it from falling. They could have generated more job opportunities by hiring/training more tree experts to give care to our trees that are naturally grown.

There’s the recognized Rights of Nature. Show some respect to our nature. And I’d like to see some day trees can be planted densely in the city, but it’s a ‘new thinking’ when trees has to worth a dime here.

The Trees and Its Repercussion:
Maybe it’s political, maybe it’s a social issue. Anything that has historical value, we strive to protect it would then turn into a property development. I used to think, we must always yield for the greater good. The walled tree incident had changed my perspective and question what’s the greater good? Who’s going to benefit from it? Why can’t some of the heritage co-exist when so much modern developments have already done? When are these developments are going to end? When will the property developers stop eyeing on those heritage sites?

District Matters, None of Your Out-of-Districts’ Concern:
Have you ever seen wildlife animals protect them home turf? I may have taken to an extreme, but let’s put it as our own backyard. When a stranger that you do not know of are destroying your beautiful backyard, what would you do? In North America, you could resolve by firing a gun. Case and point.

When the government does not care how you feel and make radical changes in your neighborhood which none of them live in it, it’s serious. My trust to the government is now broken. I just hate the feeling of being pushed to a corner.

Just when I thought the wall trees are gone forever, the Tung Tak Pawn Shop in Wan Chai listed as a Grade III historic building was about to be demolished. The 3-story structure has a rare curved design and the exterior is still intact. It could be the single most representable pawn shop structure with story to tell of our city’s past. I’d rather see it rented to McDonalds than turn into another high rise office building (the owner’s intention). Many have questioned what’s left in the city besides properties and money. And really what’s left besides those and authority?

You can’t really blame on us oppose in modernization, many of us post-80s, 90s are eager to see the past and it’s impossible to imagine without the tangible heritage site. We want our Hong Kong to have its roots, a way to trace back our history without going into a museum. We all should be happy to have a group of people passionate about our rich history, passionate enough to come out and say that’s enough of modern non-sense. We’re respecting our past, our roots, our history. Seeing the archive images from the past was a disbelief. It all seemed so beautiful when the English Colonial style buildings were everywhere from Central to Kennedy Town. Hong Kong was a little Europe! We should have at least kept a street or two full of these buildings for preservation. It could have been the single most enjoyable part of visiting Hong Kong as a tourist, just as if they’ve entered a colonized street of Hong Kong back then. It’s pointless to erect a sign of monument when the actual monuments were removed. Someday, I think the virtual reality may help us reconstruct what’s once before on each place.

Old Friends
Decapitated
Remains
Development or Preservation
The deadly tree being removed
Condolences to the unfortunate woman

Our Origin

It’s been a calling to me that I got to know more about our motherland – China.
RMBThe Feed
the PickThe Eggs
The Animal ProductChina could do amazing things and the world only sees the best and the worst under heavy filtering from someone’s eyes, mouths and words. Their views could be biased, unbiased, honest, prejudiced, whatever the case might be. One thing that can’t change is to realistically find out yourself. I would not waste any opportunity to look around to see China when I get a chance, even just less than a single day to Tier 3 City Jiangmen. It’s plenty to me, plenty to impact on how I adjust my preconceived view to them. My recent trip to Guangzhou – China had brought me yet another perspective to a Tier 1 city. Just across our northern border, it’s already Shenzhen. A fine example of what it’s all about. It’s all about the city developments, the infrastructures, the population, the skyscrapers, the wealthiness and the average income of the people. It’s known to me the bigger the city, the more people from different province would flock into it. This is how the game goes – More people, more jobs, more dollars. It happens all around the world with the exception of how densely populated these Chinese city downtowns and suburbs can get. The Mommy Time
Card GameHistory
Living HistoryI’ve seen pictures of Guangzhou, but to actually set foot on the modern GZ this was my first time. It’s about a 2-hour train ride to leave home from HK and get to GZ. An hour to Shenzhen, another to GZ. The speedy train goes out every 15 mins between SZ and GZ, a lot more frequent than I thought at first. The hotels/serviced apartments near the Pazhou exhibition center that I stayed at with my family on this trip reminded me of Chicago. Everything looked sharp and spot on, including the landscaping details.

I could not wait to see what’s coming.

Considering how big the GZ city and its districts, I’d say we were grounded at first knowing the distances. However, the metro covers lots of area. We had no trouble sightseeing without a vehicle. The metro stations look so alike, a copycat to our system in HK, only not as consistent. I noticed some weird smell from time to time at some station lobby exits, as if someone just puked or pooped. In fact I did see parents allowed kids to urinate at the roadside sewage from time to time. Dated Modern Game
An Alive Old Toy - CrabsPreservation
ModernizationThis 3-day trip had covered lots of old and new areas, plenty of museums. The old includes the Yuenxiu Park that’s so huge that is 4.5 times bigger than our Victoria Park, the Huangpu Gugang Landscape Area, Shangxiajiu – a shopping avenue full of colonial style buildings reminded me of what I see from the HK early days although shops were very repetitive, LiWan Lake Park where I found a spectacular hangout of shuttlecock players in a garden. It’s a set back to the early days when I see lives around me back to binary. A very typical scene of how I’d imagine the old China.

The Guangzhou IconUndamaged Architectural HeritageMetro

Our modern day agenda included: a walk at the underground shopping avenue in downtown – where I learned they liked very loud music at their shops, copyright infringement can be a joke when a brand crosses over between Uniqlo and Muji, and awesome architectures are the winning trophies of a city. I’m still stunned with the World Expo alike structure – the Guangdong Museum. The Library and Opera House nearby were also something we HongKongese feel very far behind. They’re an art piece of its own. The hardware speaks a whole lot of how committed they want the city to represent China. The 4.8 mmile long cableless tram is another cool piece of hardware that guarantees tourists a memorable visit. It’s electric-powered and charges for half a minute on each stop. It runs between the hotel we stayed at and the GZ Tower. I’m sure the evening skyline that passengers see from this ride along the riverfront would keep you breathless. How about a bird-eye view from the top of GZ Tower?

New Faces, Old PlacesOld Faces, New Places
Back in timeComfort Food
Rock, Paper, ScissorThe shuttlecock masters

The entire trip I was curious enough to overhear what dialect people speak. As a native Cantonese speaker, it’s almost like seeing friends from back home when they speak our dialect. This is the origin of where it all started. Hong Kong was only where they fled to during wars. I do not know what’s the percentage mix of native Cantonese speakers still left in GZ, I do not wish to see it one day disappear up there. It means to us, also a part of living history to pass it on.

Modern GuangzhouPairs in Metro
Paddle boatsThe Market Street

Unique Landscape

The Promenade at Kwun Tong/Ngau Tau Kok by the industrial buildings is one public space that’s popular among the Generation Y, due to its new design unlike any other promenades. It’s near the Kwun Tong Pier and Bus Terminal that used to be one transportation hub in the district when factories were still functioning before the 80s. Now most transports have been effectively replaced by the MTR, the pier and bus terminal have so few people using them. I even question the purpose of existence as of this moment. I’ve been to the promenade a few times approached from the Kwun Tong direction. This time I got a chance to approach from the other end at Ngau Tau Kok after a wedding of my former classmate that we still meet once/twice a year. I felt honored to be around with this group of classmates, not a huge group but at least we still have a spot for each other on the important days. How about the occasional group chat nonsense. Oh yea, that’s us. Maybe it’s the silliness that’s keeping us together still. Everyone has their own path to take. Shortly after the wedding banquet in mid-afternoon, I must carry on my own path. I wanted to explore Ngau Tau Kok thanks to the taxi ride. If I hadn’t seen the recreation area at the Promenade, I wouldn’t make this walk. It was the hottest day of the summer until today. With all the expensive operating, labor costs that were unfavor to any cost efficient industrial activities, factories have all moved across the borders to the north, in China. Almost all the used-to-be factories got converted into business suites, warehouses. The hippie solution can be fashion outlets, furniture showrooms, restaurants/cafés, galleries, artist workshops, band rooms, beer/wine breweries, greenhouse farms, fish farms and even playgrounds such as indoor soccer field, haunted house. The older generation would open buddhist/taoist temples which my mom visits. In other words, these old industrial buildings are the new powerhouse for opportunities. The advantage of low rent, high ceiling, roomy, rectangular interior have met almost all the criteria for all business owners. The entire Kwun Tong District which includes Kwun Tong, Ngau Tau Kok and Kowloon Bay were full of industrial buildings by the shore. My dad used to bring me to his participated side business at a building like these. One way to see it and that’s welcoming is, we get to see how creatively we utilize old structure as some of our practical work and play space without tearing and demolishing. All it requires is an approved change of the regulation for the property’s use. It’s an effortless idea to quickly ease up and re-use many of the empty vertical spaces in the city. I’d like to see a more organized way to pack the similar businesses into a street block. Colonize certain type similar businesses on a location. Cooperations between the buildings on the block, bring them together. Build a physical pedestrian bridge between the buildings, re-model the entrances/alleys to a friendlier manner. How about re-naming the entire block to something more interesting? Re-brand the district with a theme. Our government could have done an art village by using the industrial buildings without the indefinitely wait for Hong Kong Express Rail Link Station to be finished, before anything can be done for the West Kowloon Cultural Art District. We pay so much attention to these two projects because there aren’t any other new major developments in sight that the public could use, really not the delay. Who cares about the delay when they’re other fun new locations evolving. KT-03 Promenade The fishing trophy The happy minorities Through an over pass Ads, People, Businesses

The Safe Haven

It’s either there has been a certain level of speculations built up or someone at the news agency wishes to answer the questions I raised last week. On the PMQ re-vitalization project, it’s almost the time due for an annual overall review since their opening last year. Ming Pao Newspaper had done their own for them for whoever’s reference (if you read Chinese). It’s basically reported on their financial deficit, and doubts on its future as a spinoff independent-run organization. The events that previously done last year around Autumn/Winter had brought enough foot traffic to the site, but the true intention of the visitors they’d drawn had not transformed into business revenue, a.k.a. dollars. Some tenants and visitors have claimed the entire PMQ project weights more on the commercial side. Rain has been pouring for 2 straight weeks here. I’d basically done no interesting photographs. This PMQ topic had got me typing instead.

From another direction
The world on a wall

Frankly, when we look just a bit closer, most of the goods found at are not for everybody unless you’re somewhat fitting in the 30-50 age group with a decent paid grade. And when they could afford, why not picking up from the top international designers? That’s if they’re a diehard HongKongese.

I still find it so so so so so odd to enter a shop through a door instead of an entrance. It makes me want to knock on the door and ask ‘May I come in?’ It’s just different from how I interpret a store, here. On the other side of me, I also see them as the little cozy boutiques. We must accept that these shops are there to provide more alternative choices to better our living. The PMQ is not a shopping mall.

When there were night markets with live music and exhibitions at the PMQ, It really brought foot traffic there. When it’s over, then it’s really over. They could curate just any kind of local art exhibition to further embrace the 100% made in Hong Kong awesomeness. There could be more art & design type of festivities happening at the PMQ. As they say on their motto: ‘Creativity at a new address!’. I always like the element of surprise. I feel a bit more ‘come on in and buy please’ at this stage.

There’s a very cool venue called QUBE. I found it so mysterious as I cannot physically locate the entrance anywhere and the window wall is always curtained. It holds events/exhibitions mostly by invitation. It’s on a bridge which connects the entire complex with a very high ceiling, just like the Apple Store @ IFC in Hong Kong. You could see a Dries Van Noten fashion show held at this venue. The runway carpet made by Alexandra Kehayoglou was amazing. It’s professionally executed. I could see the all kinds of possibilities up ahead.

I like the location of PMQ. It’s at a close proximity near the SOHO bars and restaurants scene; close enough to the Mid-Levels neighborhood, and the Central/Sheung Wan business district. Plenty of art galleries along the Hollywood Road. On the surrounding, behind the back and side there’s the historic stone stairs and trees on a wall (huge trees, yes). These trees would not last forever and impossible to replant another. Recently, quite some were fallen and hit the ‘unlucky’ pedestrians at the district due to natural causes. To me, they’re phenomenally picturesque and a representation of our city’s historic remain.

Is PMQ just a foster home for the emmerging local design labels or a springboard to the bigger stage? We are yet to find out. I found it so absurd to weight on profit and loss when it shouldn’t. Have we ever complain about it to the our parks, city halls, libraries and museums?

Our Assets, Our Charm, Our Future

I have the respect of those original creators of sorts – whether it’s a large device/sculpture (lesser known due to our city’s limited space), drawing and painting (lots of comics and makes me wonder if we have oil painters in town), animation (no, not just the cartoon pig), act/play, dance, music (not the cover bands, cover songs), industrial designs (new tech), writings (sorry I read too much when I was in schools), fashion (where can we find you when everything is so H&M, Zara, Uniqlo?). Most of them are small in scale, I totally understand the difficulties and have sympathy for them.

Given, they need full dedication in order to make their names. But without a proper government program and possibly investors’s support, there’s just no guidance, no hope. Even if there’re supports, it’s not sufficient enough for the international stage. Very few was fortunate enough to make their names and become a tenant in PMQ – The hotspot for our local based designers. The site was once a police dormitory and now converted into a shopping arcade. The used-to dorm rooms standard in size are now nicely decorated according to each tenants’ likings. All of them are very modern and chic. It’s almost like a trick or treating experience to go from shop to shop. I’m happy to see them there however here comes my worries.

Are they doing okay?
Is that it?
How do we value our own city’s talents?
Are they all so alternative in mind?

It sounds as if I’m so serious and harsh on our own people. But my real intention is really quite the opposite. I want to see some of our best talents’  designs to become the leader in Asia (someday). It’s the only way to have sustainability or even survive. It’s obvious that when it comes to fashion we’re nowhere near the Koreans and Japanese. Seriously who would come to Hong Kong just for that, in Korea and Japan we’d however spend money on their brand labels and designs.

Designs are like food. Every region has their own place for it. We need our own identity and form our own culture. Who says designs are all luxury?

It feels quite odd when we all seem so international in the city when we’re not so in some ways. No doubt, it has a lot to do with our city’s history, our policies, our infrastructure, our efficient/hardworking outlook. It really is our gift and we need to inherit all that goodness to our creative workers. So they become our assets, our charm, our future.
Illuminate
On the set
Digging under and building over
The repair of a broken water pipe

The Better Future

HK on notice board
I’m not political but more of a concerned individual. I do not think a political view can lead us anywhere by blindly following along. The political parties are destroying the future of The Hong Kong my dad always says, he mostly means the Pan-Decmorats. While it seems like all the blame goes to them, I particularly found that what they do is only a show. They want to steer the shifty minds of people, they want to make us think. They are offering us a choice, maybe just a choice that they could not promise. Nobody likes to have no option but to pick what they’ve to accept, it’s precisely what they do while they expressed it in a uncooperative way. To the Legislative Council, it’s deadlock; to the general public, it’s drama. Many have also expressed how incompetent the Chief Executive is, we know the fact that he has to do everything he can do to protect the elites. So the city could be functioning. He’s powerless, but to obey to the harsh split verdicts in Council. It’s basically two or maybe three different organizations working together to pave for our future. What can we do when we’re just a normal citizen?

Whoever will be the next Chief Executive, they should think about hiring a team of PR experts rather than any secretary positions.

The Business TripConstructionFilming the streetDoor to door

We have questions why the Singaporean could have a Garden by The Bay, while we could have a similar structure in West Kowloon years ago. Why cannot we build/design more tourist attractions even locals can benefit from it? We all thought our retail sector serves up as our major economy pillar. The fact is, it ties with tourism. Not only that, when tourism alone is not sustainable; retail businesses, restaurants, and hotels can all suffer.

We really need charismatic type of leaders that could aim for the future. And then a panel that lives normal life (not the elite) and DO know the city inside out, as well as the awareness of all the international cities’ happenings and affairs.

Ever since excessive noise complaints were reported around from the Hong Kong Stadium in Happy Valley, they should have re-located it somewhere else immediately. The stadium notorious for its lack of lawn maintenance and only host for 1 or 2 international+local sports tournaments (namely, the Rugby Five Hong Kong, and perhaps the Chinese New Year Soccer Invitation Game). The stadium is so underused for what its purposed. A stadium that can’t host concerts is already handicapped and dysfunctional. Our government can take down a pedestrian bridge near where I work due to underused, but not an underused stadium which occupies a huge piece of useable flat land.

Sometimes it just make people frustrate on why private luxury apartments could be built so fast, and a single block of government property can just sit there and rot. Central Market can be anything we want but it just sits there for over 10 years now. Why not simply re-model the premise, then re-locate the forced-to-close wet market businesses from nearby to it? Or just make a super huge food court, there’ll always be people at this financial district. I’m referring to market or food court in style, super clean, super high tech, super environmental friendly, free wi-fi coverage, great food, anything lovable put it there! It’s the perfect gathering spot for tourists before jogging up the world famous Mid-Levels escalators.

Am I overthinking for the future of our city? In contrary, if there’s a sounding plan from either the council and government I’m more than happy to hear it.

//

These images are not from my phone finally. My debut with Diana Mini. They call it a toy but it’s not. You just cannot make it work the way you wanted without the analogue photography understanding.

Show You the Coffee

I enjoy coffee. And more specifically, a comforting warm cup of latte. There was a former high school classmate/volleyball teammate named Jan Yeung, that’s now a barista for years. I have not met him in person since our last day in high school. With coffee related matters shows up on my Facebook once in a while, I asked his advice just few years ago and he kindly shared his thoughts. That was about it.

Show You My Coffee

Last month in June, I saw yet another cafe/restaurant got replaced by another near where I work in Sheung Wan. There’s a huge signature logo, a yellow neon-lit comma sign by their entrance window. I thought I should come by again during the day to at least check out their menu.

Not long after I read an announcement on Facebook, my very same former classmate Jan will be stationed at the cafe that I walked by. I thought how ironic, I should meet him in person and try his latte. I dropped by the cafe after the busy lunch hours. My impression to this place was, very bright and tidy. Their staff all dressed properly like a team. They’ve got the coolest denim aprons. It’s such a funny feeling to see someone so different after many years, especially at his workplace. I’m not entirely good with words and compliments but I guess my genuine smile would show enough of my appreciation. I ordered my favorite Piccolo Latte and we chatted for a good half hour.

Jan is a determined barista and now co-owner of Little Break Coffee and Kitchen. I’d like to share you his story, so you know what a non-franchise barista is up to in Hong Kong and more on what’s behind every cup he makes. Here’s my debut interview:

When did you discover your interest in coffee? how long have you been acting as a professional barista?
It was just 3 years ago, I got interested in coffee and wished to make my own perfect cup. I began by investing on a cheap semi-auto espresso machine. And in order to expand my coffee knowledge and I attended coffee courses and obtain all the resourceful help from the internet/blog, as well as the traditional way from books. With lots of practice and patience, I felt a sense of accomplishment when my first perfect cup was born. I then spent a year in Perth, Australia as a barista.

Precision Tamper Do you consider being a barista is your second life?
Absolutely. This is my passion and I could make my living out of it. I used to study Environmental Science in University and worked for 2 years as instructor in the related field.

How different is a barista from the rest of the food and beverage line of work?
They all have their own expertise. Chef has knowledge in cooking, server knows how to read faces and serve people. Since Barista is still a relatively new profession in Hong Kong, people tend to feel mysterious about this profession. It’s all a bit over-fantasized. And the people in this field treated it like a cool type of job, this all multiplied and gave barista an aura so to speak.

I notice a surge of demand in serious bean. What do you think about the prospect of baristas and coffee related business in Hong Kong?
It all depends on the demand. When there’s a growing amount of people enjoying espresso based coffee or seeking for a quality cup of coffee, the demand will go up. The salary of baristas may also go up. But with the unique high-rent business environment of Hong Kong, a salary ceiling cannot be avoided for the business owners. There’s a demand for barista and I see people entering this field.

I agree that more and more people know their coffee. I would like to stress on it does not matter what type of beans or origin it’s from, as long as you’re getting what you enjoy from a cafe. It’s about how you appreciate the cup you ordered at the cafe, rather than all the science and lingo behind it.

The Espresso Motor I understood that you’ve been to Australia and Taiwan. How different is our coffee culture here and there?
I believe that their cafes in Australia is equivalent to our Cantonese diner (Cha Chaan Teng), very accessible and essential. The Aussies come in for breakfast around 6am and for work break around 10am. There’s the normal lunch and snack hour around 2pm. They tend to end their day early before 6. All business close in the evening, leaving the city like a ghost town. Cafe can close as early as 3pm. “They drink coffee like water” due to the lower cost per cup. I wish to import the Aussie coffee culture to Hong Kong.

The Taiwanese focuses more on the flavor, the cafe look and feel. They all come up with their signature coffee beverage, making it fun to visit. They like roasting their own beans, giving us an impression of a small production boutique roaster. They do not need to meet any sales target, as their rent is significantly lower than Hong Kong. The hand-drip and siphon methods are often used for their coffee. There’s a huge influence from the Japanese.

The baristas in Hong Kong love what Taiwan is doing, such as to own a manageable size shop, roast their own beans, serve a few side dishes and whatnot. However, it’s an impossible dream.

Also in Hong Kong, baristas here like making their own private coffee brand and treat it as a side business for pocket money. They roast and re-sale their own beans. They’re quite a lot of it out there. But when everyone dives into this niche market and the actual demand is only this small, it’s not sustainable to do it independently.

Thailand is similar to Hong Kong in terms of development.

The South Koreans are good at marketing and designing the shops. The cafes are often beautifully dressed. From what I heard from my Korean friend, there’s plenty room for improvements on their coffee.

Crema Are we there yet and what needs to be done to become one of the top places?
The quality of coffee we do in Hong Kong is high but the mass majority of baristas are still lack in professional experience,  making our overall standard still behind Australia. There can be a skillful barista on site and their second in-command makes just an average cup. It’s all affected by the character of a person, whether they’re willing to listen and learn from a experienced mentor is up to them.

On the other hand, if the public can be more knowledgeable about food and lifestyle. It’d be a boost to cool down the overrated coffee and food franchise brands. People would then not follow blindly to the brands without realizing there’s much better choice out there, while I understood franchise cafes are offering their space, not their coffee drinks.

Frothing When an order of coffee can cost as much as a meal in Hong Kong, will it be possible to match that Australian pricing in Hong Kong one day?
It’s all up to the supply and demand. We’re trying to do that here with the combination of food order from customer. But quite frankly it’s the rent.

I totally think that a coffee place should be as accessible as it could be and to live and possibly grow with the community, the district. Have size and location formed (upstairs) a unique (in a good or bad way) coffee atmosphere for us?
To whose who don’t know about this type of upstairs cafe, it’s often conceived as the high schooler chill-out spot. Back in the days we used to visit these places for board games and they offer poorly prepared food. It’s about time for them to be replaced by the modern ‘coffee-centric’ cafes.

It’s affected by the high rent, in order to survive people need to move their business to the hidden upstairs location. When high rent gets in the way, lots of compromises would be made which at the end hurting the overall coffee business. The lower food costs, the lower the food quality. It’s a cycle. Only franchise could survive in this game. The rapid expansion trades off for quality and consistency. Many had started out okay when small and eventually becoming rip off places.

There could be great baristas around town. They tend to get hired by those who could pay them well, usually the franchise higher bidder.

Pulling What’s your specialty?
Latte art is my specialty. I studied and practiced a lot in control. And my experience in Australia helped me dearly, it’s all about learn by doing. To this day, my record was using up 3kg of beans in two hours by myself. I have the speed and without sacrificing any quality. I see latte art as an enhanced presentation, something additional that’s pleasing to the eye which could make a cup of coffee even better.

Tell me more about this cafe Little Break.
Little Break is a cafe/restaurant focuses on food. We believe food is usually what draws customers to a restaurant because we get hungry all the time. Although the coffee part comes second, I still do my best to serve up my customers with the best we could make.

Little Break started in Lai Chi Kok, Kowloon in an remodeled industrial building. Our chief owner Will also knows coffee and his cousins are passionate folks with their unique skill set such as cooking, dessert making. Will hired people to operate including me. He’s highly sociable, so you know he’s our PR!!

And until recently Will found this amazing Sheung Wan shop open for rent, making it our perfect opportunity to land on the Hong Kong Island – a slightly more upscale location. We are still adjusting our menu and working on the marketing for this shop. Currently during our soft opening, we close early at 6pm. Eventually, we want to set a dinner menu and have customers come in hungry, leave happy.

The Perfect Cup What’s the first thing people should try when visiting you/Little Break?
It’s up to what’s hot on the OpenRice page! But my recommendation for food is to try the Pancake hamburger, our chef makes everything from scratch. Due to its complicated procedure, It’s only served in the morning and afternoon with limited quantity. Our chef is also good at the steak department and he fine tunes his own sauces.

What’s your opinion about takeaway coffee? It’s a big ‘NO’ for those who know coffee.
Coffee is often treated as a leisure activity. But in fact, it can just be your any beverage commodity. Whether it’s a takeaway or not, people should drink up fast not letting it hang around hours. And yes, we do takeaway coffee in Little Break too!

He does not want to see people walk around with the one and only super tall 16oz. takeaway cup. Then we chuckled…

Thanks your awesome coffee and I’ll have you introduce us your own company for Fairtrade products on the coming post.

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