SIRC - The Coffee Obsession

SIRC - The Coffee Obsession

The concept of cycling and coffee is one of those juxtapositions, like yin and yang or the white and black squares on a chessboard: one is not the same without the other. Here are some of our favourite cyclist-friendly cafes in Hong Kong.

Tuesday 16th February 2021

Cyclists’ obsession with coffee is a quick realisation for anyone picking up our treasured sport. We are amazed by most baristas’ ability to distinguish between all the personal preferences ordered at shotgun speed. Bo fondly recalls the first time heard the term ‘flat white’ from an Australian friend. He had no idea what it meant and neither did the girl behind the counter in the highlands of Malaysia. The customer was not impressed and did what so many do when someone doesn’t understand them. He raised his voice…“FLAAAT WOYT”. She just stared at him. No one knows what he got, but it might just have been coffee with warm milk and no froth. Poor guy.

Hong Kong is no different and the café scene has evolved significantly since 2004, when the riders of South Island Road Cycling started crisscrossing the SAR. In the early days, good coffee shops were few and far between and the group usually finished their rides at Pacific Coffee in Stanley. On occasion we stopped in Shek-O as well, in a very local, but very friendly shop that is no longer there. The standard order was coffee and toast. That was it and everyone knew it. A newbie came along one day and asked us quietly if we thought it would be ok to order a cappuccino instead. “Of course”, we all assured him and he confidently ordered his double-shot skinny cappuccino. A few minutes later all of us, including him, got our black coffees as usual. He looked at his cup for a short while and we all burst out laughing. No harm in asking right? But you get what they serve.

Coffee stops used to be primarily for weekend rides only. But with new work-from-home arrangements in place, mid-week coffees are now more common. There was one Guy who, during the height of the pandemic, even turned his favourite coffee shop into his personal office.

Below are some of our favourite cafes that have welcomed us cyclists and helped make Hong Kong such an enjoyable place to ride and live.

Ming’s - Shek-O

Referred to sometimes as the ‘SIRC Clubhouse’, this open-air venue facing the roundabout in Shek-O village is run by Ming himself, whose family has been in Shek-O for generations. The café opened in 2013, replacing a convenience store that was also run by the family. Eugene, Bok and the team never miss a beat, quickly taking orders even when a large group rolls in, scrambling for any free space. This venue is a must for any SIRC athlete doing a weekend ride to Shek-O. The bacon and egg roll is a firm favourite with those needing mid-ride sustenance and the iced pineapple smoothie can be a refreshing alternative to coffee on a swelting morning in the height of summer. The shutters open at 8 a.m. on weekends, so time your ride well.

Winstons – Sai Ying Pun and Kennedy Town

Simon, John and Daniel launched the first Winstons cafe in Sai Ying Pun in 2015, followed by the shop in Kennedy Town in 2018. It is the latter which has become a go-to for SIRC riders enjoying a Friday morning recovery ride. Alma and her colleagues do a great job, giving a warm welcome and making everyone feel at home. The open-air concept – with cyclists flowing out onto the pavement to protect the staff and other patrons from the stench of sweat-soaked lycra – is a perfect design. The stone wall on the other side of the road, with its mesh of Banyan tree roots, makes for a legendary ‘bikes-against-a-wall’ photo background as well. The shop at 11 Davis Street K-Town takes orders from 7 a.m. daily.

Fineprint – Central, Tai Hang and Sai Ying Pun

Today the cyclists of SIRC mostly frequent the shop on Lily Street in Tai Hang. But during certain periods in the club’s history, the outlet on Peel Street in Central has been preferred – especially for a quick coffee on the way home from the Thursday ‘Pokfulam Express’ ride. The first shop in Central was opened by Scottie Callaghan in 2016 and since then he has expanded to a total of three. A native from Sydney, Scottie knows his stuff. Among other things he won the art Latte Championship in Switzerland in 2006. A coffee shop that opens at 6 a.m. is a rarity in Hong Kong, but suits early risers and cyclists alike. Enjoy!

Other Credits

Whilst in recent years Ming’s has become the SIRC’s regular café in Shek-O, if you are in the village early doors or if Ming’s is already full, Lulu’s is the place to go. In addition to coffee, the restaurant offers an extensive menu ranging from noodles to spectacular door-step toast.

We should also give some credit to Feather & Bone in Tsuen Wan West which, with its large outdoor terrace next to the MTR station, is the venue of choice for those completing a SIRC Grand Tour on a Sunday morning.

And of course there is Pacific Coffee. Not just the original SIRC waterhole in Stanley but also the café in Peak Galleria. Here, after the Annual Peak ITT in December, you’ll find the entire group uploading rides to Strava in the hope of winning the prized Colin Robertson Trophy or simply getting one over their TARGET!

See you on the road and over a cuppa…

Bo and Ric