Some things just go together. Wine and cheese, butter and popcorn, coffee and breakfast – they just seem like they’re meant to be. And the same goes for gorgeous tableware and food.
Choosing the right plate, bowl or glassware can elevate the drinking or dining experience when it comes to both appearance and flavor. That’s why BOMSHBEE teamed up with NOC Coffee Co just over a year ago – both are homegrown Hong Kong brands rooted in quality, curation and meticulous attention to detail. Together, it’s a match made in heaven.
NOC Whampoa serves up its delicious, nutritious brunch-style menu using BOMSHBEE Tinge porcelain plates and bowls. As the brand’s first Kowloon location, the cafe and coffee shop also carries a selection of BOMSHBEE tableware and glassware so guests can recreate the experience at home.
To mark the first anniversary of the collaboration, we caught up with Jacob Lau, store manager and head barista at NOC Whampoa, to learn all about the art of coffee brewing. Born and bred in Hong Kong, Lau caught the coffee bug after a chance encounter showed her what she had been missing.
“I used to work for a Japanese restaurant in Central and would drink coffee from the machine there to wake myself up in the morning,” says Lau. “One day, I dropped by a neighborhood café for a coffee, and it tasted so much better than what I was making!”
She started working part-time in local coffee shops, before making the barista’s pilgrimage to one of the world’s most discerning coffee destinations. “I traveled to Australia for a working holiday, and was fortunate enough to have met many passionate roasters and baristas who taught me their trade and pushed me to improve my coffee skills and knowledge,” recalls Lau.
To Lau, being a barista means practicing her passion and craft every single day – and she loves to share the joys of coffee with other people. Here are some of her top tips about how to prepare and enjoy the perfect cuppa:
Start with quality beans
“The freshness and quality of your beans will affect every aspect of your brew, including water temperature, grind size, brewing method, and most importantly, the overall complexity of flavor,” says Lau.
What’s the best kind of bean? Lau is a single-origin (beans from one farm or mill, as opposed to a blend) girl herself, preferring to sample the distinctive taste profiles of one specific region at a time.
“My personal favorite is single-origin beans from Panama,” says Lau, attributing the country’s altitude, location and soil to its delicious taste. “In the cup, Panamanian coffees are very sweet, and well-known for their excellent brightness.”
“I also really enjoy coffees from Ethiopia: I love their acidity, fruity and floral notes, as well as pleasant complexity.”
Try the pour-over method at home
Of course, it’s challenging to emulate what you’d find in a specialty coffee shop at home since most people do not own commercial espresso machines. When it comes to home-brewing, Lau says she prefers a pour-over coffee for both taste and convenience – all it takes is a hand-grinder, a decent dripper, a piece of filter paper and your favorite mug.
“For me, coffee is part of my morning routine and my self-care routine,” says Lau. “I love brewing a cup of pour-over in the morning to have a moment to myself and get energised for the day ahead.”
While she typically uses an in-house recipe from NOC’s head coffee trainer, Lau adds that a healthy dose of experimentation when you’re brewing is never a bad thing. “Keep in mind that every coffee is different. To fully enjoy it, it’s important to be adventurous, and explore different grind sizes, pouring motions and recipes.”
Invest in essential gear
The best cup of Joe will be made with freshly ground beans, which means you need a quality coffee grinder. Lau uses a Comandante coffee grinder as part of her morning pour-over ritual.
“I love the versatility and accuracy of my manual coffee grinder,” says Lau. “It is fitted with wear-resistant ‘burr’ blades that allow grind sizes from espresso (really fine) to Turkish coffee (really coarse).
“I am also currently obsessed with my Flower Dripper, as its shape allows water to circulate through the ground coffee at a much slower speed, allowing better extraction and flavor in my brews.”
Not all cups are created equal
Don’t just grab any old mug off the shelf! To really savor a coffee’s flavor, choose your drinkware carefully. Lau says professional baristas pretty much all agree on which material makes for the best cuppa.
“Many baristas have experimented with drinkware, and the conclusion is almost unanimous: to achieve optimal flavor, it’s best to serve with double-walled ceramic cups.”
Why? Ceramic doesn’t influence the taste, whereas a synthetic material like plastic might. Plus, a double-walled mug has the insulation needed to keep your coffee warm for longer.
Enjoy with simple, subtle foods
Once you’ve brewed the perfect cup of coffee, it’s best enjoyed with simple foods that won’t overwhelm your taste buds. Steer clear of intense flavors like sharp cheese or anything spicy, for example.
“I really enjoy pairing my pour-overs with NOC’s Buddha Bowl or Two-way Avocado Toast,” says Lau. “They’re filling yet light enough to keep my palate clean, so I can appreciate my coffee.”
Photo Credits: NOC COFFEE CO