While Hong Kong may be famous for Yum Cha (literally "drinking tea") or tea culture, it is also a major player in the coffeeshop franchise wars. While there are many Starbucks to be found, the other major player here is Pacific Coffee which could very well be called 'the Starbucks of Asia" were it not for the fact that Starbucks is here, too. There's a Pacific Coffee about 2 minutes from my hotel, so I've taken the opportunity to thoroughly sample their range of coffee and I've got to say, they're pretty good. A caramel latte is a great way to replace any idea of breakfast with just a huge coffee, while their macchiatos have a very respectable kick to them (their range of doughnuts can be quite appealing if you're probably going to miss lunch, as well!). Every Pacific Coffee store also has at least one (usually two or three) free internet-accessing PCs, as well as free wi-fi, so the combination of caffeine and computers is alive and well! The other coffee shop I've really enjoyed here is the far less know Zambra Coffee. I think the shop was set up with franchising in mind, but may have been locked out by the two big players. However, I gather from chatting to their barrista that they supply coffee beans far and wide across Hong Kong, so they're definitely doing well. My oversized Caramel Latte from Zambra last Saturday morning was lovely, and had more of a distinct taste then the coffee from Pacific or Starbucks. Yes, Hong Kong is definitely a caffeine-fueled culture (tomorrow I hope to find time to try coffee from a few of the smaller coffee shops I've spyed down the smaller roads in Wan Chai and Admiralty).
For those of you who are suddenly worried that I'm too focused on franchise-style coffee to the exclusion of the many cultural experiences Hong Kong has to offer, fear not, there are other stories to tell. Indeed, yesterday the two tutors working on the same courses I'm teaching at CIDP while I'm in Hong Kong took me out for a drink at Hong Kong's Fringe Club which seems as lively an arts centre as you're going to find. It's in an historic building which is almost a century old, and is right in the middle of Central on Hong Kong island (and I'm told be reliable sources has the cheapest happy hour for miles around!).