It may surprise some to hear that Hong Kong’s coffee scene wasn’t always as wonderful as it is now. Back in the day, one could only make morning pre-work pit stops at international chains like Starbucks, so it’s hard to believe how fast that’s changed over the past few years. With coffee stores popping up left, right and centre, it’s almost essential to showcase something really unique to stand out against the crowd of hipster cafes. Brew & Crew does exactly that—it’s a coffee shop by day, and natural wine tasting lab by night. Cha Siu Papers Times’ contributor Shannon Dawson stopped by the hidden Sheung Wan gem—which is also newly-opened—to try the “natural” wine selection.
An undiscovered gem
If you wander past the antique stores ubiquitous to Hollywood Road, and take a right onto Wing Lok street, you’ll find another hidden treasure by the name of Brew & Crew. Offering single origin cold-drip coffee by day and a selection of exotic natural wines by night, this café slash wine bar is a charming little hidden gem in the heart of Sheung Wan.
The interior offers minimalistic charm with creative nuances like skateboards converted into a menu board and, my personal favourite, a hidden wine cupboard disguised as a shelf.
Concept: coffee meets wine
Launched in early November by the co-founders Samantha and Tammy through their mutual love of great coffee and wine, this venue operates as a café during the day and opens exclusively for private bookings during the evening.
We take a seat at the table adorned with a selection of natural wines. If, like me, you’re wondering what is meant by ‘natural’, this is determined by low levels of sulphite compared to conventional wine makers. The lower the levels of sulphite in a wine, the lower severity of a hangover. It’s only a Tuesday, so if I can reduce my risk of a mid-week hangover, sign me up!
Our first taste of the natural wine world comes from an Italian drop called Radikon. My sceptical palette expected the wine to taste unusual, much like a product that has low fat or sugar compared to its counterpart, however I was delightfully surprised by this one, fruity, balanced and a noticeably less acidic taste than traditional white wines. Bellissimo!
We quickly transitioned into red wines, beginning with the northern Italian Buttafuoco which was a personal favourite of the owners. This conversely was a bolder, drier wine that packed a punch. Although this one was nice, I preferred Los Corrillos which offered a variety of flavours like honey, peach, citrus and oak which offered a little more complexity, and—there are currently only 1055 of them available, made each drop all the more special.
After the Occhipinti (a light, red not too dissimilar to pinot noir), I couldn’t help but notice the lack of headache that often ensues after mixing wines. Apparently, this is all part and parcel of natural wines. I am starting to revaluate my life choices at this point.
In addition to the selection of natural wine, Brew & Crew also offer a selection on handpicked gins including Broken Heart Quince gin, which tastes as sinfully delicious and sweet and you can imagine, and the showy Ink Gin ® which changes from lilac to shocking pink when water is added. If that weren’t enough to get tongues wagging, they also provide coconut and lime flavoured CBD infused beer courtesy of Plant B.
Whether you’re looking for an early morning pick-me-up or a cosy venue for your next socially-distanced event, this place has something for every palette. Naturally.
Brew & Crew, 12A Shing Wong St, Central, Hong Kong, facebook.com/brewncrew