Halfway Coffee: Where the Peoples and Cultures of the East Meet the West
Updated: Nov 6
A café where Hong Kong's 80s nostalgia meets the city's trendy, international, coffee-drinking facet. It's 'East Meets West' and 'Old Meets New' from their interior design, crockery, food to frequenter demographics.
Situated on Lascar Row, the famous antiques street in the upper Sheung Wan area of Hong Kong island, there lies a little coffee shop hidden amongst the many Chinese antique stalls filled with trinkets from seemingly all ages, calligraphy brushes stacked next to Zodiac-related items, cast iron tea pots, brass statues, etc. With its casual placement of weathered chairs and tables outside the café, it is easy to miss the coffee house as it blends noiselessly into the street that's teeming with dusting antiques.
Halfway in All Aspects
Halfway Coffee is aptly named for various reasons. Not only is it physically in the middle of Lascar Row, it is also the transtemporal meeting of two noteworthy facets of Hong Kong. Where Hong Kong of the 80s-90s, golden age of entertainment as immortalised in films and sold in the form of trinkets on Lascar Row to tourists, meets the Hong Kong of current times, a chic confusion of international cultures and head-turning Millennials.
The café with its concrete walls and coffee bar is tastefully styled using weathered antique furniture and décor. Dimly lit with modern arching floor lamps and naked lightbulbs dangling down from the tall bare ceiling, their coffee is served using Chinese porcelain teacups and the food using matt ceramic plates. The mishmash of the traditional with the modern-chic is present in every corner and element of Halfway Coffee. Take the pulley system by the coffee counter for example. The system is reminiscent of what grocers in traditional 'wet' markets of Hong Kong use to keep their bucket of cash and change up in the air and away from any prying hands. Here at Halfway Coffee the same system is used for its interior, of course with a little more style and polish, elegant enamel blue rather than glaring plastic red.
The clientele is also a melting pot, mostly of Millennial individuals. From solitary hipster freelancers and small groups of hospitality industry executives to mixed culture/international couples, coffee lovers, dog walkers, yoga practitioners, and quiet people watchers, the frequenters of Halfway Coffee are always interesting to take note of.
About the Coffee and the Rest
Memorable aesthetics and atmosphere aside is the actual coffee. It's one of the few places in Hong Kong where one can get a decent flat white that is smooth, silky, nutty, creamy, punchy, and bitter in a nice caffeinated way. You won't be finding any lattes confused for flat whites here. It's proper and done well, with the oat milk option too. The other coffees cannot be vouched for since I am a loyal flat whiter but given how my regular go-to (which is usually butchered by most coffee spots in town) is made well by Halfway Coffee, I'd give a nod to their barista.
True to their distinct demeanour, there are other food and beverage options available at Halfway Coffee that signal to their target clientele. In fact, their menu is very much in character with the rest of the café and their crowd. Take the tea section for instance. The regular English teas you'd expect to find (English Breakfast and Earl Grey) along with the Chinese teas (Oolong and Silver Tips), and the hipster herbal teas (Apple Cinnamon and Lemon Ginger). The teas itself paint a pretty clear picture of the people who frequent Halfway Coffee. The avocado or scrambled eggs on toast (sourdough of course) from the savoury side of the menu helps with the picture. So does the two options of mixed juices whose ingredients scream health and are named 'Sun' and 'Earth'. And to make sure no one is left out, there is also the Matcha Latte and Rose Latte crew alongside the Lemon Tart and Opera Cake duo.
Intimate Enough for All Day Time Meet-Ups
Shielded away from the city traffic yet central enough to be convenient, Halfway Coffee is one of those neighbourhood coffee shops that you'd immediately think of for a quick, casual yet intimate meet up with a friend or an acquaintance.
Its quiet atmosphere also makes it a great place to work from. There are sockets around the cafe in case you need to charge, free WiFi, and food and caffeine an order away. The tables are albeit a little too short or small to work from, but it's a minor flaw if all you need is a laptop.
Last but not least, if you are looking to support local and independent coffee shops, Halfway Coffee is one such you can frequent. It's got a great love for Hong Kong and coffee culture, so give it a try if that's a blend you appreciate as well.
(There are 3 other branches in the city, but for now, I'm happy with frequenting this one tucked away on Lascar Row.)