EL recently got Zai Fe Head Barista Katharine Law to spill the beans about making what many consider the best coffee in Hong Kong.
Personal coffee machine?
When I lived in Sydney I used a French press but here in Hong Kong I don’t have much space at home so I use drip packs from Cuppa Café. It’s really convenient and you can get a good cup of coffee in a short time.
How many cups a day do you drink?
I usually drink two cups but when I’m at work I have to test and calibrate the machine so I end up having another eight or nine shots.
How did you train to become a barista?
I trained in Australia and learned by experience. I worked in a few different cafes and found that many baristas were happy to share their knowledge and skills. We’re all so passionate about coffee that we want to pass that on to the people we work with. I’ve been working with coffee for 11 years now.
Any workplace hazards?
As a barista you can get repetitive strain injury from doing the same motions every day. Standing on your feet all day can hurt your back if you don’t have good posture.
Most requested order?
Our cappucino. We do it in a very traditional Italian way. It has be silky and all about the ratio of froth. We keep the proportion right!
Where do you source your beans?
One of our founders, Wendy, is known as the “Queen of Beans!” She imports them from different places and they’re roasted right here in Kwun Tong then rested for a week. We have two blends – a robusta that is more European in style, and a lighter blend. Both blends are made with Fairtrade beans from Colombia, Indonesia, India and Rwanda.
Other favourite coffee places in town?
I like Manson’s Lot in Wan Chai. They import their beans from Sydney, and it reminded me of home when I found it. They also introduced me to the coffee scene here in Hong Kong when I first arrived.
Favourite latte art design?
I like a simple rosetta. You can do it very quickly and it’s the prettiest. In such a fast-paced environment you don’t want to take too long; it’s more important to get the coffee to the customer hot and fresh!
The best part about being a barista?
I love being part of people’s day, chatting with customers, getting to know them and making new friends. Zai Fe is a place for people to get away for a little bit, and that’s the whole idea of a coffee shop.
About Zai Fe
Zai Fe means “strong black coffee” in Cantonese. It’s a brand of Italian-style espresso bars where expert baristas serve their own house blend of beans, with milk from Kowloon. All ingredients used are natural and organic where possible, and Zai Fe doesn’t use preservatives, artificial colouring or sweeteners. Zai Fe is the first coffee company in Hong Kong to use 100 percent combustible and compostable takeaway cups, made from recycled materials.
For locations, visit zai-fe.com.