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FOOD

A new wave of Taikoo cool: % Arabica opens in Monster Mansion

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Countless Instagrammers and film crews have captured the iconic architecture of Monster Mansion – a 1960s residential block on King’s Road in Quarry Bay, so named because of its imposing density. The bustling courtyard, normally full of hole-in-the-wall dining spots, hairdressers and DIY stores, now has a sleek, new resident: % Arabica. It’s one of the world’s trendiest chains serving artisanal coffee, and it’s become a symbol of Taikoo’s new wave of cool. We speak with the team behind % Arabica to discuss their vision for this new branch.

What is the philosophy behind % Arabica?
Our philosophy is “see the world through coffee”. We are the fastest growing speciality coffee brand in the world right now. At last count, there are 28 branches of % Arabica cafes in over 10 countries, with more on the way. We nurture young baristas who are dedicated to their craft and we develop them further by enabling them to travel to other % Arabica locations to hone their skills. It is not only our customers who see the world through coffee but also our baristas.

Why have you opened a store in Monster Mansion?
We work with the company’s founder Kenneth Shoji to identify unique spaces in Hong Kong and mainland China, and partner with some of the best designers around the world to create the perfect coffee experience. Monster Mansion strikes us as the kind of sprawling futuristic cityscape that excites the imagination and brings people together.

You have several other outlets across Hong Kong. What is special about your location in Monster Mansion?
We believe every one of our chosen locations is special and has its own unique characteristics that other locations cannot easily replicate. The Monster Mansion, in particular, is probably one of the most internationally famous local spots, at least on Instagram. The type of architectural density exhibited in these building clusters was made famous by photographer Michael Wolf. It is exactly this kind of local character that draws travellers from all over the world to this highly photogenic spot.

What do you think % Arabica brings to the people in Quarry Bay and Taikoo, as well as the residents of Monster Mansion?
We’re very excited to be here in this thriving community. Our new neighbours have been very warm and welcoming, and we’ve had great feedback from our customers, not only on our coffee products but also on the visually striking interior design. We hope the addition of % Arabica will give people in the area a cool new place to meet up and bond over an amazing cup of coffee.

Can you tell us about the design of your space?
We worked with designers from Tokyo-based Onndo. The bold design takes inspiration from and pays homage to the surrounding buildings to create an interior space that artfully echoes the towering high-rises above. The large, elongated mirrors mounted on either side of the service counter conjure up the illusion of infinite space within a clearly defined sitting area. Bean bags stacked high above the counter reflected off another mirror on the ceiling give rise to a vertiginous view above. This project is a great example of how % Arabica cafes are able to adopt the clean, minimalistic aesthetic across borders and at the same time infuse elements of local identity and beauty into each shop.

What is on the menu?
Our focus is on making the best coffee so we keep our coffee menu simple. We also serve a beautiful Matcha Latte, which is made with Uji green tea powder. More importantly, our coffee machine of choice is the Slayer Espresso, which is regarded as one of the best. The patented flow control empowers our professional baristas to manipulate and fine-tune the flavour profile of any coffee with a high degree of expert precision.

Who has been visiting the cafe?
On top of the usual coffee lovers and design enthusiasts who have embraced our brand with passion, at % Arabica Monster Mansion, we get a balanced mix of office workers and residents who live in the immediate vicinity. The area also attracted locals and out-of-town visitors to explore the community.

% Arabica 
Shop 3, G/F, Yick Fat Building, 1048-1056 King’s Road, Quarry Bay
Tel: 2474 8883
arabica.coffee
Instagram: @arabica.hk 
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8am-6pm; Sat-Sun 9am-6pm

Image credit: Johnny Gin

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