Cafe society raises the bar

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 July, 2011, 12:00am


Coffee shops around Hong Kong have become popular places for people to socialise with friends, read newspapers or surf the internet. Despite the city's mainly tea drinking culture, the popularity of coffee has grown rapidly over the past decade.

'More people in Hong Kong are developing a taste for coffee. They want to know more about what a genuinely good cup of coffee is and how they can make it for themselves at home,' explains El Au, barista trainer at Barista Academy (

Au started working in the industry eight years ago when there was very limited knowledge of coffee preparation techniques in Hong Kong.

The level of professionalism of barista workers has increased significantly with many young employees going overseas to compete in industry-related competitions.

'Since the Grand Barista Championships was held in Hong Kong three years ago, many young baristas have become more aware of the opportunities for professional development in the coffee industry and are willing to explore these possibilities overseas,' Au says.

Barista Academy offers small group classes for people who want to pursue a personal interest in coffee.

'Latte art in particular has captured people's imagination. A lot more people are getting quite excited about learning the process of creating latte art,' explains Au.

Au and fellow trainer, Felix Wong Kim-fei, offer a two-hour latte art class which teaches the important role milk plays in making speciality coffees, how to properly steam and texture the milk and the basic techniques of pouring and etching a design. The cost is HK$800.

Those who would like to work as a barista or open a coffee shop can enrol in a three-hour introductory class called Coffee Experience Class. The cost is HK$600.

Coffee Pro offers a basic course for both coffee enthusiasts and people wanting to work in the cafe industry. This 16-hour course (comprising eight, two-hour sessions) includes topics such as the origins of coffee, roasting and blending, use of different coffee makers, milk steaming techniques, latte arts and coffee cupping. The cost is HK$3,200.

The SCAA & SCAE Barista Level-One Certification Course is designed to meet the needs of cafe owners, managers, and the working baristas.

This six-day course costs US$1,600, with the next starting on July 25.