Room with a brew

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 February, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 February, 2004, 12:00am

Hong Kong's thriving coffee culture has seen an explosion in what have been dubbed 'upstairs cafes'. They are a favourite hangout for the hip and cool, those seeking more personality in their latte than the ubiquitous Starbucks franchise can provide. These small cafes (located above ground level in older buildings owing to the cheap rent) are in a class of their own in terms of decor because they are usually the pet projects of successful professionals looking for a creative outlet.

With retro-chic all the rage in the fashion world, step back into the hippie chic of the 1960s at the Oldies Cafe in Causeway Bay. This 600-square-foot coffee shop is decked out with accessories from that decade, from retro-looking sofas to old telephones, funky Afro-combs and displays of plastic earrings. Owner Natalie Ngan is an avid collector of antiques, and when she accumulated more than her apartment could hold friends suggested she open a shop. Her boyfriend, a former chef, interior designer and graphic artist, came into the equation and the result is a coffee shop-cum-curio store.

Everything in the cafe is for sale. If you love the table on which you've just consumed Oldies' delicious Irish strawberry cheesecake, obtain a quotation from the waiter and you could take it home. The Afro-comb is available for $30, and a kitsch, snake-skin-covered telephone can be yours for $400. Ngan is even marking down some items by 50 per cent. Of course, you can just sit down and enjoy a nice cup of coffee for $26. Oldies Cafe, 1/F, 9B Sharp Street East, Causeway Bay, tel: 2834 2802. Open: weekdays, noon to 10.30pm; weekends, noon to 2am.