Saturday, November 14, 2015

18 Grams Roastery Lab – Wan Chai, Hong Kong

There used to be a few places I usually go to for espresso in Hong Kong. When they are good, they are exceptional, and way better than those in Singapore. We found one near where we were staying for Watches & Wonders, and thought it worthy of a writeup.

Curious name, a friend who is not an espresso geek asked. Not at all, 18 refers to the amount of beans in grams one usually measures for a standard pull of double espresso. Of course, this differs from machine to machine, from bean and roast to the other. For eg, on my Elektra Leva a Casa, on my home roasts, I typically pack 20g of powder into its portafilter. But 18g remains a text book standard for a doppio.

Roastery Lab also is interesting. They do have traditional classical espresso and coffee, including slow cold drip, but also some experimental ones. Like Nitro Espresso.

Yes, this is not so novel anymore...Chye Seng Huat Papa Palheta makes one. But it is still pretty avant garde. Looks like a dark beer, served from a tap. But smells like coffee, and taste like coffee. Nitro coffee is slightly efferverscent. The coffee is treated with high pressure nitrogen, chilled in a keg and served on a draught with a foamy head like a Guiness. The mouth feel is rich, creamy, and seem a touch sweet and less acidic than cold brew. 

And a bit more experimental, perhaps, but a very simple sparkling espresso..

Cream soda in a glass with ice, and over it, pour a double shot of espresso. I found this a much nicer drink than the Nitro. All the espresso elements are still there, and the bubblies from the cream soda make a nice mouth feel. Smooth, with the full taste of the espresso showing. First time I have come across a drink like this, but one which has a low barrier to entry as this can even be attempted at home. 

We also had the traditional espresso...a doppio ristretto

Quite excellent. Note the beautiful mottling on the crema. The crema was thick and rich. The ristretto was very viscous, powerful on the nose as it is on the palate. Beautiful long finish. Excellent cup.

I also tried the picolo latte, actually I had this as my first cup, as I always try to avoid disappointment with a new place. As milk often is a good mask for the sins of the barista.

Superb cup. Just the right amount of foamed milk adding the requisite richness and body to the espresso. This gave me the confidence that the barista knows what she is doing to order the ristretto above.

I also tried a machiatto.

Perfectly executed. The touch of milky foam on the espresso was just right. Nice.

I also had breakfast there, and found the Eggs Benedict with ham to be quite superb.

Hollandaise sauce was good, and the eggs poached to perfection. Probably poached sous vide. Comes with a nice side of fruits. 

Upstairs the very small cafe, it sits perhaps 8 pax max downstairs, is the roaster and a small dining area.

Very nice espresso place. Worth a visit every time in Hong Kong. Centrally located just a few minutes walk from either Admiralty or Wanchai MTR station.

18 Grams Roastery Lab
10 Johnston Road, Wan Chai
Tel: +852 2520 5100
Fax: +852 2345 7367
Sunday-Thursday: 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Friday – Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Day Before Public Holiday: 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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