By Cathy Yan / Wall Street Journal Hong Kong

Hong Kong has always loved its tea. But Joe Mark, owner of coffee boutique Brio Espresso, insists the city is developing a coffee culture—beyond Starbucks and Pacific Coffee.

Brio, tucked away on the second floor of a building on Matheson Street near Times Square, sells high-end coffee makers. Instead of competing with cafes, Mr. Mark says he is targeting those who want to make their own brew at home. “Let’s provide all the equipment so that everybody can drink good coffee,” he says.

The year-old store sells coffee beans from Italy and Laos, as well as accessories for the coffee connoisseur: tampers for compressing finely ground coffee for espresso, professional cleaning supplies and even special fuel to light a fire for a siphon coffee maker. Brio also partners with coffee-lover groups to host ad-hoc coffee appreciation parties.

“Coffee culture is definitely developing in Hong Kong,” Mr. Mark says. “What people are looking for in coffee is a higher [standard].”

What’s Selling: Premium Italian coffees such as Bristot from Belluno in the north and Barbera from Messina, Sicily in the south. The Bolaven Farms Organic fair-trade coffee from Laos is also popular. A bag of coffee beans sells for 100 Hong Kong dollars (US$13) and up.

What’s Not: Coffee brands commonly found at grocery stores such as Illy and Segafredo.

Bargain Buy: The Technivorm Moccamaster automatic drip coffee maker with Swissgold 23-carat gold-plated filter, which sells for HK$3,280. The coffee maker is hand-made and individually tested in Holland. It may not be cheap, but Mr. Mark says investing in a good coffee maker pays off. “You will enjoy the quality and you will save money in the long run because there will be no need for frequent replacements.”

Shopping Tip: Buy whole coffee beans instead of ground coffee because whole beans stay fresher longer, Mr. Mark says. Also, buy a good coffee grinder and grind only what you will use so that the coffee stays fresh.

Next Trend: Professional-quality espresso made at home using standardized ESE (Easy Serving Espresso) pod technology. For years, most at-home espresso machines were proprietary, such as the Nespresso machine, which only works with Nespresso coffee capsules. ESE makers use standard-size capsules. “Many coffee companies offer their coffee blends in ESE pods,” Mr. Mark says. “When you buy an ESE pod machine, you aren’t restricted to one brand of coffee.”

Brio Espresso
Address: 2/F, 10 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Phone: (852) 2808 2310