Sheung Wan seems to become a hot bed for Indie café these days with at least three cafés in the area including Soft Aroma, Café Little and Coco Espresso.
One good thing is that I had coffee at both Soft Aroma and Café Little before a while back and didn’t bother to recommend these cafes at all. The main reason is that, despite their Indie’s cache, they were once not up to the standard. This was not a strange phenomenon as it happens all the time in the US. Nevertheless, the positive comments these days on these cafés so much so that I like to try it once, actually twice.
After I finished my breakfast and delicious Cappuccino at Coco Espresso, thanks to Morris – the barista at the time at Coco, I stumbled into Soft Aroma on my way to the MTR. So, why not trying it out.
I had an espresso at Soft Aroma on Saturday afternoon and boy they seemed to come a long way from just another black water. I couldn’t get my usual double ristretto as the barista did not know so I was actually bracing myself for the worst. It turns out to be a positive surprise, layers of taste with floral notes. I wish it was pulled a bit shorter for more body but, considering its black water era when they were still in CWB, I can’t complain.
I revisited the shop on Sunday morning for breakfast and coffee.
The cappuccino was not quite right. The temperature was only slightly above the decent level but the milk texture wasn’t there and the foam, which looks nice, was quite weak I can’t feel the velvety texture typically associated with properly prepared drink. Only after it cooled down a bit I can sense some extremely faint sweetness of the frothed milk but, due to the time, the texture was long gone.
I managed to order ristretto this morning. More body and quite forward flavor with layer of floral note in the middle. While the aftertaste was quite nice both days, there’s a bitter undertone for my morning cup.
Both Capp and ristretto pointed to the rather high temperature during the morning. Maybe less traffic particularly on Sunday morning. The Saturday afternoon wasn’t suffered from the temp issue as they had more business so the temp was on the lower side. Only if they were pull a bit shorter…
Also gone were the barista that cranked up the grinder while there was no customer in the shop. This was a practice at Soft Aroma at its previous location. From my ear, I can't see the grinder, I heard the buzzing sound every time they made a new drink, a very good practice other cafe such as Cafe Habitu should look and follow.
While coffee at Soft Aroma was considered good this time, they still couldn’t manage to reach the full potential of the blend I had elsewhere. While it’s nice, lots were still missing vs. my experience, particularly the body. The blend was a simple two beans from Africa and Asia but is very flavorful and much better than some Italian blends which I heard some time they went up to “nine” beans for its flavor though I believe that’s more the consistency of the taste than what they claim… My 2 cents though
The bean is locally roasted and remains the same blend as its old location so the freshness is definitely not an issue. In fact, I remembered the proprietor choosing this blends due to its freshness and its roaster. You see who roasts the bean on the magazine pages that was pegged to the corkboard above the sofa.
Food for this café is a very weak point. It’s a Chinese style western food which still lag behind the good one. Spaghetti was not quite al dente and the meat sauce tastes like it came out directly of the can and not a good brand. The lemon/citrus cheese cake also wasn’t good. The scramble egg for the E breakfast set was so oily I can clearly see the oil on the side of the scramble egg like a lake in the middle of the mountain. Its ambience is the same as food, ie westernized decoration but with a strong Chinese style feel. The picture did not tell this story but you feel it once you're there. This is very contrast to a simple, cozy feeling and, likely, less expensive deco at Coco Espresso which retained an ambient of Indie cafe and you still feel it's warm and clean.
So, go for its espresso and hopefully in the afternoon. It’s still worth to try Capp in the afternoon though.
Ristretto... Quite good but with bitter undertone
Capp...Look nice but weak foam/texture
Double Espresso, particularly in the afternoon
Date of Visit: Jul 25, 2009
Spending per head: Approximately HKD60Other Ratings:
Value for Money 3