Knockbox's menu is all coffeeno flaky croissants to dilute the focus. Half of the menu are their own roasted beans, while the other half features up to three foreign roasters, most recently Stumptown (USA), Square Mile (UK) and Koppi (Sweden). Or, you know, you can just ask if there's anything new and good, which is how we ended up doing a tasting of Yemeni coffees.
Coffee not your thing? You're in luck, as around the corner is the very cute Teakha, like Knockbox for tea.
Neighborhood: Sheung Wan/Mid-Levels. 14 Tai Ping Shan Street (look for the tiny sandwich board on the street; it's the only sign).
· Cafe Loisl
If there's one thing about Hong Kong that we really love, it's their admiration for (and sometimes devotion to recreating) other international cultures. Take for instance this neighborhood secret, which is about as Viennese as you can get, with the exception that the waiters flip between English and Cantonese and the patrons are chic Hong Kong locals instead of old, bristly Austrian men. We ordered Apfelstrudel and an Einspänner, the latter an espresso drink we've not even seen in New York (yet).
Neighborhood: Sheung Wan. 8 Tai On Terrace (tucked next to the bottom of one of the Pound Lane staircases).
· Rabbithole Roasters
There something going on in Asia with coffeeshops, and the way they design the space to facilitate more interaction between the baristas and the appreciative drinkers. We saw it in Singapore, and now we see it here: a layout that's more like a communal kitchen than a "who's next in line?" Starbucks. Two stories up from the street (so you have to climb a shady stairwell) and with a view straight out to the famous Mid-Levels Escalator, Rabbithole feels like you've somehow stumbled into a private meeting space that just happens to be kitted out with the best and latest in coffee technology.
Sit at the single table (or on the tiny back porch, if the weather isn't too muggy) and actually say more to your barista than "a large latte, please." Imagine being able to do that. It's possible here.
Neighborhood: Central/Escalators. 26 Cochrane Street, 2nd Floor (Take the escalator up 'til you see Rabbithole on the left, then get off at the next street and circle back down via the sub-escalator steps).
[Photos: Cynthia Drescher]