Our Valued Sponsor
OpinionsConsumer ReviewsGuides and How TosCoffeeGeek ReviewsResourcesForums
opinions and articles
The Asian Coffee Scene by Paul Pratt
Setting the Scene for Coffee in Asia
Posted: November 15, 2003
Article rating: 6.7
feedback: (26) comments | read | write
Click for larger image

I was told something a few months ago by a roaster from the UK that had just done a tour of Asia and Australia. He said to me that he thought that Australia was 4-5 years behind the US in terms of gourmet coffee and that Asia was the same lag behind Australia. For someone that was here for only a few days in many places he seemed to capture the status of the situation very well.

When I first got in contact with Mark about doing something for Coffeegeek he was immediately enthusiastic about getting a more global perspective about the gourmet coffee market. Most people probably think that outside the US and Europe, the closest Asia has come to coffee is that we produce some fine coffee in Sumatra and India and we produce some lower grade coffee from Vietnam primarily used as fillers by the large companies. And of course we have the eccentric Japanese that buy up almost the entire stock of Jamaican Blue Mountain. Whilst this is true, something else has happened in the last decade in that so called retail gourmet coffee stores have arrived in Asia.

Having been based in Hong Kong for almost 8 years now, I can see that many places in Asia took coffee on board and in terms of volume of coffee stores, caught up pretty quickly with the worldwide trend. Of course like a thick blanket of heavy snow, Starbucks suddenly appeared in many places. You just went to bed one night and when you woke up there they were.

In Hong Kong in a little over 2 years Starbucks have opened 35 stores which, until they arrived was the total of gourmet coffee stores in this unique place. The local press in this part of the world got excited and whipped the public into frenzy about Asiaís newfound coffee culture. However many years on after the so-called coffee boom in Asia there is still something missing, what would prompt a roaster from the UK to make such an accurate judgment on the scene?

The answer to this lies in something that was drummed into me whilst I was still a snotty nosed fresh faced 12 year old by my Junior School English teacher 'quality not quantity'. HK must have now close to 80 gourmet coffee stores but frankly it is very seldom I buy any coffee anywhere, and if I do it is more often than not somebody I supply equipment, coffee and training to.

I feel that in Asia the gourmet coffee market, up until now, has not been done very well at all; we lack depth. Sure there are places like Japan and Singapore that have some real quality coffee but there are places that donít. We have a false coffee culture. I would like to address the whole culture bit in a later article but for now I am hoping that you will take my word for it.

This therefore brings me onto what I do here in HK. I have been here now for 8 years, the first 2 years was my first job out of university and it was with the first gourmet coffee company in HK. After that the entrepreneurial spirit drove me to start a coffee business at the tender age of 23. 6 years later we have now evolved from a retail company with 3 stores to one of Asiaís first specialty roasters and agents for La Marco and Astoria.

After trawling through chat forums it appears that coffee (and more precisely coffee knowledge) does something to a person, it makes you want to get out into the world and try and improve the situation, it makes you want to knock each barista on the head that makes you a bad drink and say 'there really is no excuse for that drink you just made!'.

Well for those of you that want to but just can't I would like to share with you through my column what it is like to actually be doing this. Before you get even more excited my first piece of wisdom is - the wages are terrible and you will get frustrated beyond belief day after day. However it is this frustration that eventually drives you, so that each day you can get up out of bed and try and change the world, well something like that anyway.

So I would like to offer you CoffeeGeeks a slightly different angle, I would like share with you some of the workings of a small business, what is happening around Asia and of course I need to practice what I preach so a few articles about coffee and equipment. Anything else? Oh yeah, I'm 29, originally from England, I collect vintage watches, annoy La Marzocco a lot with my so-called 'technical suggestions' and promote Fair Trade Coffee.

Article rating: 6.7
Posted: November 15, 2003
feedback: (26) comments | read | write
All Retired Columnists Articles
These articles are listed in alphabetical order, first by columnist, then by article title.
Faema E61 Part 2
Paul Pratt, 12.18.2007, Rated: 8.8
Setting the Scene
Paul Pratt, 11.15.2003, Rated: 6.7
Andrea Illy Speaks in New York
Liz Clayton, 01.15.2008, Rated: 8.3
NYC Cafe Scene Report: March 2008
Liz Clayton, 03.28.2008, Rated: 8.7
Humble Beginnings
Aaron De Lazzer, 01.25.2002, Rated: 7.5
Latte "Tips", Part Two
Aaron De Lazzer, 12.28.2001, Rated: 8.0
Latte Art, some "Tips"
Aaron De Lazzer, 12.10.2001, Rated: 7.6
Love and Hate in Espresso
Aaron De Lazzer, 07.26.2003, Rated: 8.1
Mediocre Coffee
Aaron De Lazzer, 07.13.2003, Rated: 7.9
Ristretto Shots
Aaron De Lazzer, 02.24.2002, Rated: 7.9
Training Espresso
Aaron De Lazzer, 06.28.2003, Rated: 8.4
An Introduction
Jason Dominy, 04.28.2012, Rated: 8.6
A day in the life
Alan Frew, 04.24.2002, Rated: 7.4
A Dinner Party Challenge
Alan Frew, 10.15.2002, Rated: 7.8
Celebrate The Bean
Alan Frew, 03.29.2003, Rated: 8.1
Domestic Espresso Repair
Alan Frew, 05.20.2002, Rated: 9.1
Domestic Grinder Analysis
Alan Frew, 08.30.2002, Rated: 8.5
Domestic Machine Reviews
Alan Frew, 08.22.2003, Rated: 8.2
Domestic Machine Roundup
Alan Frew, 07.01.2002, Rated: 8.8
Espresso Blend Building
Alan Frew, 03.25.2002, Rated: 7.7
Imex Roaster Revisited
Alan Frew, 12.15.2001, Rated: 7.5
Meditations on a Mantra
Alan Frew, 09.28.2002, Rated: 8.3
My View of SCAA 2002
Alan Frew, 06.10.2002, Rated: 8.2
Plenty Questions
Alan Frew, 01.22.2002, Rated: 8.4
Price Up, Taste Down
Alan Frew, 01.07.2002, Rated: 8.2
Show Me The Money!
Alan Frew, 12.28.2001, Rated: 8.4
Small Espresso Tweaks
Alan Frew, 02.14.2003, Rated: 8.5
Suck It And See
Alan Frew, 08.09.2002, Rated: 8.1
The Coffee Academy
Alan Frew, 07.21.2003, Rated: 7.7
The Top 10 Coffee Myths
Alan Frew, 07.15.2002, Rated: 8.1
Turn on, Tune in, Espresso out
Alan Frew, 02.23.2002, Rated: 8.3
Up at the Sharp End
Alan Frew, 05.24.2003, Rated: 7.5
Making Progress
Ed Gabrielle, 09.15.2002, Rated: 8.5
Meeting Silvia
Ed Gabrielle, 07.21.2002, Rated: 6.9
Ethiopian Sidamos
Karen Hamilton, 10.15.2008, Rated: 8.8
Ritual Coffee
Karen Hamilton, 11.15.2008, Rated: 8.6
Coffee Business Journey
Jack Hanna, 04.08.2012, Rated: 8.3
Coffee and a Donut
James Hoffmann, 06.02.2007, Rated: 7.0
Crema
James Hoffmann, 10.14.2006, Rated: 8.9
Bean There Part 4
Terry Montague, 05.26.2002, Rated: 8.6
Bean There, Roasted That Pt.3
Terry Montague, 01.28.2002, Rated: 8.5
Beans & Roasts, Pt.2
Terry Montague, 01.13.2002, Rated: 9.0
Beans and Roasts, Pt.1
Terry Montague, 12.31.2001, Rated: 8.3
Good taste - Good cause
Terry Montague, 04.29.2002, Rated: 8.8
Notes from the Road
Lou Pescarmona, 08.16.2002, Rated: 8.3
Reluctant Admission
Lou Pescarmona, 05.12.2002, Rated: 8.3
Supreme Bean
Lou Pescarmona, 06.16.2002, Rated: 8.2
Cold Espresso
Jim Piccinich, 10.23.2002, Rated: 8.3
Power Protection
Jim Piccinich, 03.01.2003, Rated: 6.3
So Many Choices
Jim Piccinich, 09.15.2002, Rated: 8.4
Temp Regulation 101
Jim Piccinich, 07.04.2003, Rated: 8.1
What is a Heat Exchanger?
Jim Piccinich, 07.14.2003, Rated: 7.7
Barista Basics, or Not
George Sabados, 05.03.2004, Rated: 7.8
Cafe Culture Downunder
George Sabados, 06.12.2007, Rated: 7.8
Changing Cafe Owner Thinking
George Sabados, 02.06.2006, Rated: 7.6
The End of the Barista
George Sabados, 12.27.2006, Rated: 7.8
"Espresso", a review.
Ted Simpson, 01.20.2002, Rated: 8.2
A Quick Introduction
Ted Simpson, 12.14.2001, Rated: 8.5
The Hunt
Ted Simpson, 12.28.2001, Rated: 8.6
Grinder Adjustments
Chris Weaver, 03.01.2012, Rated: 8.1
     
Interactive
Search
Login Password
forgot pw | signup
quickNav
advertisement
sponsorad
Cafe Espresso Machines
Video reviews, nationwide installation, leasing options... Nuova Simonelli, Rancilio, La Marzocco.
www.seattlecoffeegear.com
sponsorad
Rancilio Silvia - How to
Step by step guide for easy brewing and steaming with the Rancilio Silvia
www.seattlecoffeegear.com
sponsorad
Commercial Equipment
Nuova Simonelli, La Marzocco, Rancilio. Nationwide installation. Instant financing options.
www.seattlecoffeegear.com
Home | Opinions | Consumer Reviews | Guides & How Tos | CoffeeGeek Reviews | Resources | Forums | Contact Us
CoffeeGeek.com, CoffeeGeek, and Coffee Geek, along with all associated content & images are copyright ©2000-2014 by Mark Prince, all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. Content, code, and images may not be reused without permission. Usage of this website signifies agreement with our Terms and Conditions. (0.148765802383)
Privacy Policy | Copyright Info | Terms and Conditions | CoffeeGeek Advertisers | RSS | Find us on Google+