Super Synagogue: UNESCO-winning Ohel Leah synagogue remains focal point of Jewish life

As Robert Dorfman stares at the foundation stone, dated May 1901, of the Ohel Leah Synagogue, he becomes a tad philosophical about the Jewish community in Hong Kong and the building itself. “In many ways, we as a community have mirrored the rise of Hong Kong, and this building has witnessed all the changes that have taken place around us,” says the Chairman of the Trustees of the Ohel Leah Synagogue Charity. The synagogue, which claimed a UNESCO cultural heritage prize following its 1998 restoration, recently celebrated its 120th anniversary.

The beautiful Edwardian Baroque building is now encircled and dwarfed by tall apartment complexes, a far cry from the days when three grandsons of David Sassoon, the patriarch of the Sassoon family, gifted the land in Robinson Road, Mid-levels, to the Jewish community of Hong Kong. The Sassoons had first opened a Hong Kong office in 1844, and the brothers requested that the synagogue be named after their mother, Leah. Speaking of the site today amid glorious spring sunshine, Dorfman says: “How nice we have the sanctuary, the garden, the greenery.”


Dorfman’s own family is of Russian descent with roots in Hong Kong going back more than 60 years. As we continue our tour of this immaculate and decorative place of worship, he talks proudly of the work of the Ohel Leah Synagogue Charity, which has done so much to preserve the building. “Making sure the building is well kept and that we always have a rabbi, a spiritual leader of the community, are among the highest priorities of our trust,” he says.

The synagogue has maintained its position as a focal point of the Jewish community since the early days when the Kadoorie family – who like the Sassoons had settled in Hong Kong via Baghdad, Bombay and Shanghai – funded the building of a Jewish Recreation Club on part of the grounds. The club served the social requirements of a burgeoning community, though it did not survive Japanese occupation during the Second World War; it was rebuilt in 1949, and later replaced by the extensive community centre that neighbours the synagogue today.


Smuggled Scrolls
Happily, Ohel Leah’s antique Torah scrolls were wartime survivors, smuggled out of the synagogue before it fell into Japanese hands. They were returned safely and are now stored in a small alcove behind a multicoloured curtain that was gifted to the synagogue about 15 years ago.

Erica Lyons, who chairs the Jewish Historical Society of Hong Kong, pulls the curtain to one side to reveal a line of ornate cases on a curved shelf running along the wall. Within the cases are handwritten parchment scrolls of the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. Some scrolls originate from the 1860s; others are much newer, having been inked within the last decade. “In Jewish tradition, everyone is meant to complete the writing of a Torah scroll sometime in their life,” she says. “It takes more than a year for somebody that is very skilled. This is often done symbolically through a communal effort as was the case with one of the community’s scrolls that was rededicated in 2007.”

Before the pandemic, the synagogue would conduct many synagogue tours – sometimes more than once a day – for schools, universities, church groups and even tourists who had just stepped off a cruise ship. “It is the only historic synagogue in Greater China that is still in use for its intended purpose,” she notes.


Heated Debate
It was touch and go at one point whether the landmark building would be demolished. As a result of extensive construction work in the neighbourhood, the massive granite retaining wall between the property and the road became dangerously unstable. In the late 1980s, the Hong Kong government issued a notice to the trustees to secure the wall.

A heated debate arose within the Jewish community as the cost of repairing the wall and stabilising the building was extensive. Some thought redeveloping the whole site and building a new synagogue was the best solution, and acrimonious exchange spilled over into broader Hong Kong society.

A compromise was eventually reached with a developer; two residential towers were built, but the synagogue was saved. The new Jewish Community Centre (JCC) was built on the podium of the high-rise and opened in 1995. Facilities include a Jewish day school, a kosher supermarket and two restaurants, an indoor swimming pool, function rooms and offices. There is daily worship in the synagogue and vocational and social events are organised around synagogue life.


Living Heritage
Old and new coexist in harmony. A two-year conservation project to refresh the Grade 1 historic building began in 1996 and was overseen by the synagogue trustees. “[The restoration team from Australia] did everything in the style that it was originally done so that it was all uniform and wasn’t changed,” says Dorfman. Certain soothing pastel colours inside the synagogue were only revealed after the team scraped the walls. “Nobody living had remembered these colours, and it was decided that since those were the original colours, we should go back to them.”

The restoration also improved other features: air conditioning and new lighting were installed; the original bimah (elevated platform) from which the rabbi reads the Torah remained but was raised slightly to improve the acoustics; support beams and new tiered seating in the gallery were added. The heritage team helped restore or replace damaged glass and touched up and finished the woodwork. The restored building was named an Outstanding Project at the 2000 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.


Flourishing Community
The Jewish community of Hong Kong started with traders who came in the 1850s and were predominately Sephardi (Jews with ancestry from Spain and Portugal) and Mizrachi (Jews with ancestry from the Middle East) ancestry. It is now estimated to be about 5,000 strong and spans a diverse group of some 30 nationalities. There are numerous places to worship in Hong Kong for the different denominations; the United Jewish Congregation, for example, holds services in one part of the JCC complex.

Lyons, who has lived in Hong Kong for more than 20 years and raised a family, believes the fact that the Jewish community in Hong Kong is relatively small and extremely welcoming allows someone to take up leadership roles that elsewhere would take years to achieve.

A can-do attitude has spawned many cultural activities set up by the Jewish community. For instance, from its beginnings in the auditorium at the JCC, the Hong Kong Jewish Film Festival has grown enormously and receives support from the consulates of the countries of films screened. The Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre provides educational resources in local schools.


Reaching Out to Other Faiths
The Ohel Leah Synagogue plays a part in interfaith bonding. Dorfman recounts how during an event called ‘From Moses to Mohammad’, the imam spoke at the Jamia Mosque in nearby Shelley Street and then visited the synagogue and was shown around by the rabbi. “The rabbi and the imam are very good friends,” he says.

He marvels at the feeling of inclusiveness the synagogue helps to create, explaining how, during Covid, the rabbi did services via Zoom a few days before the Jewish New Year. Invitations were sent to all members of the community past and present. “I was stunned how many people who happen to live in London, New York, Israel, Australia or elsewhere came online and joined the call,” he says. “People still want to be connected and still want to be part of it. That is a great tribute.”

Rabbi Dr Asher C. Oser offered these words: “There is something magical about this sacred space, where it is situated and what it offers. Of course, we have daily services, which are the vital signs of any place of worship, but there is so much more than ‘just’ prayer that goes on over here.”

Love Lots – The latest news in the Auction Market

Check out Bob Dylan’s collection of love letters, Piet Mondrain’s abstract painting, White Disaster by Andy Warhol and the revived vintage watch from Titanic.


Forever Young

Lots of love from Dylan to his classroom crush

Legendary American folk musician Bob Dylan is as renowned for his generation-inspiring songbook as he is for his antiauthoritarian lyrics. As such, it may come as no surprise that a collection of letters by the revolutionary bard recently fetched a stunning US$65,000 (HK$508,000) at auction.

The literary lot featured 42 letters all penned by Dylan, who, back then, was still known as Robert Zimmerman, when he was in high school, and chronicle his attempt to woo Ann Hewitt, his classroom crush.

Born in 1941, Hewitt settled with her family in Hibbing Minnesota and it was there that she met Dylan in her high school history class. The couple’s first date took place on New Year’s Eve 1957, with their romance lingering on until at least the end of 1959.

Sold by Boston-based auction house RR Auction, the letters, which run 150 pages in total, cover everything from Dylan’s musical ambitions to short snippets of poetry and, of course, sweet billetdoux to his beau.

Also included in the lot were a signed Valentine’s Day card and an unsigned handwritten note from Dylan to Hewitt.


Square Deal

Mondrian art goes under the gavel

The works of Piet Mondrian, the iconic abstract Dutch painter, seldom come up for auction, so the news that one of his most admired pieces – Composition No. II, featuring, of course, his signature red, blue, white and yellow squares- was going under the gavel and created quite a stir.

Putting the significance of the sale into perspective, Julian Dawes, Sotheby’s head of impressionist and modern art for the Americas, said: “Quintessential works by Piet Mondrian rarely come up for auction, as many are permanently housed in some of the world’s most prestigious museum collections.

The once-in-a-generation opportunity proved no disappointment with the piece in question – created in 1930 and last auctioned in 1983 when it fetched a then-record $2.15 million (HK$16 million) -exceeded all expectations with the winning bid reported as some $51 million (HK$400 million).

Mondrian, a pioneer of abstract art, relocated to Paris in 1912 after being impressed by the early cubist works of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. There he began to experiment with his own take on depicting fragmented representations of reality.



Car crash proves salesroom smash

Universally celebrated for its highly-influential pop art iconography, Andy Warhol dabbled in a wide array of artistic disciplines – from film to performance art to illustrative prints and far more. It was, however, one of his muchcoveted silk screen prints that recently exceeded all expectations when it sold at auction for US$84 million (HK$ 657 million).

The piece in question, White Disaster, was created in 1963, a time when Warhol had become obsessed with gruesome and morbid imagery, with everything from nuclear mushroom clouds to electric chairs co-opted into his apocalyptic visions.

The particular work features a single image of an automobile accident duplicated 19 times in black and white across 12 feet by 6 feet canvas. Prior to the sale, it was held in a private collection for 25 years and had previously been owned by both Heiner Friedrich, founder of the Dia Art Foundation and Thomas Ammann, the wellknown art dealer.

A smaller artwork from the same series, Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster), fetched a record-breaking US$105.4 million (HK$820 million) in 2013.


Time Titanic

Classic car drives high bids

A watch belonging to a postal clerk sailing aboard the ill-fated Titanic recently went under the hammer at Henry Aldridge & Sons, a southwest England-based auction house, along with several other momentoes of the doomed cruise liner.

Selling for an unprecedented £98,000 (HK$910,000), the considerable interest in the watch confirmed the abiding fascination with the infamous ship and its unfortunate fate, which seems to remain as strong as ever among memorabilia collectors and canny investors everywhere.

The rare vintage watch, which belonged to RMS Titanic clerk Oscar Scott Woody, as traggic as the story sounds, stopped forever at the moment its owner slipped into the freezing North Atlantic on that fateful night of 14th April 1912.

Recovered from the icy depths and returned to his wife, Leila, a month after the ship went down, the watch was the centerpiece of the sale, outvaluing several related lots, including a menu for first-class passengers, a list of those first-class passengers, an ornate dessert plate and a section of a column from the liner’s à la carte restaurant.

Happy New Years – A look into what 2023 has in store with the year of the rabbit afoot

It’s a zodiac-sign integral. Listed below is the Chinese New Year’s forecast of our life’s curves for the year of the rabbit and the 11 other Lunar New Year animals.

Rabbit. (1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011)

It’s your year and, as ever, this is your time of strength. Re-boot long-delayed plans and prepare to play to your strengths as it’s going to be 2035 before you’re once again in such a strong position to find success.

This time around, though, not every aspect of your life is equally well starred. While all is looking good on both the business and relationships front, you will need to be a little more cautious when it comes to romance. A degree of over-confidence occasioned by your sign being in the ascendant could see you set for a major faux pas in spring, something that is far from becoming for a person of your undoubted status.

It is, however, a very good year for you to resurrect one particular aspiration that you cherished during your formative years. Although you’ve latterly considered it as something of a pipe dream, you may now be able to make it a distinct reality.

Dragon. (1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012)

As the coming sign, your prospects will rise even as the year wanes. Accordingly, this is more a time to plan than to act. Do your research and put in the hours and you will be singularly well placed to act and prosper when your time truly comes.

Don’t be afraid to make new friends as people will naturally gravitate to you over the coming months. One, in particular, is set to play a decisive role when a scheme comes to fruition early in 2024.

Snake. (1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013)

All the signs indicate that you need to reconnect with nature over the coming 12 months as you have been locked away in the city’s steel and glass for a little too long for your own good. Your health will undoubtedly benefit if you head out to somewhere a little more leafy even if only for a comparatively brief interval.

Avoid any risks relating to water, however, as you are not likely to emerge wholly unscathed, despite any assurances you may receive.

Horse. (1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014)

Sadly, although you felt the last 12 months have been little more than work, work, work, 2023 is starred to be more of the same. Don’t despair, though. You are clearly making progress towards something and that objective will become clearer and more realisable before the autumn sets in.

Someone special is thinking of you. It may be time to start thinking of them too. While the mind wanders, the heart never really forgets.

Goat. (1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015)

This year is really all about restoring and rebuilding. You’ve been neglecting a number of issues relating to your property portfolio, with the cost of several postponements now set to become apparent. It’s time to make amends.

Similar issues are arising in your social circle, with one or two individuals whom you particularly value wondering what they have done to offend you. Reassure them as to how you truly feel before they seek succour elsewhere.

Monkey. (1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016)

After a fairly astute 2022, pretty much every aspect of your life is running relatively smooth. Over the next 12 months, just the occasional light hand on the tiller should keep pretty much everything right on course. This will free you up to go a little off-piste.

Explore some of your more outré notions and give yourself the freedom to fail without too much recrimination. One such experiment could well turn out way more successful than you – or anyone else – might expect.

Rooster. (1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017)

Either you or someone very close to you has been putting on a brave face with regard to a medical issue, one that really should be exciting a degree of concern. Now is not the time to bury your head in the sand as a swift diagnosis could well avert several future problems.

A major investment is also on the cards for this year and could prove transformative for you. Before venturing into this, though, you would be well-advised to resolve things on the medical front.

Dog. (1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018)

You will be spending far less of your time in Hong Kong this year. While that is true of many in the coming comparatively Covidfree era, it is particularly true of you and you may find yourself heading west for longer than you expect.

Sort out one or two niggling issues on the home front before you depart, however. Above all, make sure all of your relevant travel documents are fully up to date. A mistake here could prove both costly and embarrassing.

Pig. (1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019)

As many things are set to distract you this year, you really need to focus on those tasks that truly merit your attention rather than those that can be safely delegated to trusted third parties. This is essential as there is one issue in particular that only you can handle and which really merits your undivided attention. A senior family member has some useful advice for you later in the year. While your inclination may be to shrug this off, this could prove a very costly mistake.

Rat. (1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020)

Your partner is keeping a secret from you, but mainly because they don’t want to cause you any undue concern. Uncovering the issue that preoccupies them, however, has to be your priority this year.

Without your expertise and characteristic diligence, their problem could go unremedied and take on proportions neither of you will be able to manage without external assistance. Attentive questioning and careful listening are your two best allies here.

Ox. (1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021)

Something of a sabbatical would appear to be heading your way as the year progresses. This is something you have been working toward for some time now, perhaps not even fully consciously. You have, however, reached a position where so many plates are successfully spinning that your full-time attention may not be required over the short term.

Think carefully, though, as to how to make the best use of any extended leisure time. It will be many long years before you are again in such a privileged position.

Tiger. (1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022)

As last year’s lead sign, 2023 is likely to be a year when you happily consign yourself more to the shadows. As you don’t naturally enjoy being centrestrage, 2022 was a bit of an ordeal, one you may need to allow yourself time to recover from.

Over the next 12 months, you can happily return to the role you’re more comfortable with – the hidden hand that delivers a discreet push in the right direction when required. Then quietly reaps the benefits.

Local shops bringing festival and merry cheer to the city

While Christmas might seem like the most abiding of holidays, with its traditions so time honoured as to be almost unassailable, the festival has, incrementally, changed over recent years. And in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways. The dawn of online communications has not been great news for disparate families, with brief avatar-ed appearances trumping jet lag, airline cuisine and compulsory Covid testing.

But all is not lost. There is still hope that tradition is returning to at least one aspect of all-things Christmas – gift-giving. While, not so long ago, Amazon and Esty had stealthily become the go-to providers of presents for loved ones both near and far, there’s been a distinct shift of late. Suddenly, it’s once again de rigueur to buy your presents and Christmas trinkets locally and in person. Thankfully, for those in Hong Kong, this is one challenge many of the local shops and assorted other outlets are more than up to meeting.

Flower Power
The Anglo-Chinese Florist started as a small flower boutique in 1946 at a location that couldn’t appear more apt – Lyndhurst Terrance in Central, a thoroughfare better known to many as “Flower Street”. Inevitably, as you near this ever-popular outlet, the fresh aroma of Christmas pine will help you find your way. It offers a huge selection of high-quality Christmas trees, as well as a fine array of wreaths and lights, with prices varying between HK$900-3,600.

Today, as part of its commitment to quality, the florist prides itself on importing only the freshest trees, plants and flowers from Holland, South Africa and New Zealand. In terms of its special Christmas offering, its services range from creating small, bespoke multi-candle centrepieces to decorating 10-feet-tall Christmas trees from scratch.

Festive Eats
Something special for the festive season is also promised by the Hong Kong-based food and beverage firm, The Pirata Group. As to just what makes its festive offer stand out from rivals, is its no reservations policy, meaning you’re always in with more than a chance of finding a table at one of its three outlets – Pici, The Pizza Project or Pane e Latte.

These three restaurants are big on holiday cheer and specialise in curated festive goodies that infuse the brand’s expertly prepared dishes and Italian treats with timeless holiday flavours. Make it a December to remember with one of their special festive goodies, with the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Pizza, a particular favourite.

Bread Ringers
Ali Oli is Hong Kong’s oldest European bakery, and with Christmas fast approaching, its festive menu includes turkeys sourced from Italy and Canada for those wanting to step away from cooking and just relax during the holiday. It also provides such Christmas classics as mince pies, stollen, pecan pie and pumpkin pie.

The 36-year-old bakery offers some of the highest quality European and Western baked products, which perhaps accounts for its enduring reputation for maintaining a hugely extensive and innovative product list.

Cake-out Artist
The perennially pastel-shaded pop-up store of the celebrity-beloved Vive Cake Boutique is opting to showcase its signature black sesame temptation and its complete collection of edible art, to a new range of wholly imaginative festive offerings.

The patisserie’s newest creation, the four-tier Prince Sesame Cake, is a must for lovers of nutty and slightly bitter-sweet sensations. Since 2014, the bakery has been known as the crème de la crème among Hong Kong’s bespoke dessert-makers and, as result, has accrued an enviable celebrity client list.

Claus Encounters
For four days only, The Murray Christmas Market is morphing into pretty much the perfect destination for any last-minute Christmas shopping. This will see the five star hotel transform into a marketplace full of all things Christmassy, with a vast array of festive lifestyle products, including food and wine, jewellery, clothing and more. 

As if that wasn’t enough, the celebrity mystery guest Santa will be travelling from The North Pole to Hong Kong for photo opportunities and Claus encounters with young revellers, to complete this wonderful and festive experience.


(Text: Joseff Musa)

How the New Year is celebrated in different ways on different dates

While the coming New Year is celebrated in many different ways (and at different precise times) around the world, there is an almost universal desire to mark the sense of annual renewal as winter peaks and the slow saunter towards spring begins. Regardless of climate variations around the world, there is an innate human need to celebrate the cyclical nature of the seasons, one that manifests itself in myriad different ways.

(Nowruz) Persian New Year

Even just within Asia, new year celebrations in many of the continent’s constituent nations are incredibly diverse, often rooted in cultural traditions that date back centuries. Among the most notable example is Chinese New Year, an event tied to the lunar calendar and celebrated in spring as the most important festival in China as well as in many East- Asian countries. Marking the beginning of a new year on the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar, it is considered an auspicious time to honour both ancient deities and family forebears, as well as a particularly apt time to spend with loved ones. Falling somewhere between January 21st and February 20th every year, it is one of the most eagerly anticipated holiday periods across the mainland and far beyond.

Khmer New Year

Typical Chinese New Year activities include decorating your home, offering loving tributes to your ancestors, staging reunion feasts with family members on New Year’s Eve, gifting red envelopes, letting off fireworks, and watching colourful lion and dragon dances. Among the favourite new year dishes of many are fish, dumplings, noodles, spring rolls, rice cakes and rice balls. It is also traditional to display an array of tangerines and oranges, fruits believed to be synonymous with future prosperity.

Chinese New Year

Over in South Korea, the three-day Seollal festival more or less coincides with Chinese New Year, except that, every few years, they take place a day apart. The custom here is to stay awake until midnight on the designated New Year’s Eve and watch the first sunrise of the year. The following morning then begins with a serving of tteokguk, a rice cake soup associated with both longevity and new beginnings. Koreans then usually make time to pay their respects at ancestral graves, eat together, play traditional games and participate in sebae, a time-honoured ritual that sees children and students bow to their elders and receive gifts of money in return.

Seollal festival

Several other Asian countries also celebrate the lunar year in a similar fashion to China. The Vietnamese, for instance, celebrate Tet (New year) and believe that rearranging and decorating their homes eliminates any lingering troubles from the previous year. In Mongolia, meanwhile, New Year is called Tsagaan Sar (“White Moon”) and sees Mongols dress in all-white, ride white horses, and eat only dairy products during the celebrations. Taiwan, Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia also celebrate the lunar year and share many of the traditions observed in China.

Tsagaan Sar (White Moon)

In Indonesia, the Islamic and Balinese Saka new year is celebrated by different communities – the former by the Muslim community and the latter by Balinese Hindus. On Nyepi day – New Year’s Day in the Balinese Saka Calendar – the lights across the island of Bali are all turned off, while silence prevails with traffic and day-to-day activities all coming to a halt. Local residents typically meditate and enjoy an uncharacteristic spell of serenity. Later, the traditional celebrations see Ogoh-Ogoh, huge papier-mache giants, paraded along the beach to the strains of loud gamelan music.

Balinese Saka New Year

By contrast, many South and Southeast Asian countries follow the solar calendar when marking the beginning and the end of the year. Cambodian New Year- known as Choul Chnam Thmey or Sangkranta – is traditionally celebrated with, fireworks, parties, and feasts. It also coincides with the traditional solar new year festivities in several parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand.

Choul Chnam Thmey

Songkran, for its part, is the annual celebration of a new beginning over in Thailand and marks the start of the Buddhist New Year (also known as the Water Splashing Festival). Images and statutes of Buddha are bathed, while younger Thais show their respect to local monks and their elders by sprinkling water over their hands.


Within India, there are at least 10 different traditional New Year celebrations, with many states having their own rituals associated with the occasion. Diwali, the beginning of the Hindu New Year, is one of the country’s major festivals and is usually celebrated in October or November. It’s a five-day affair that includes lavish food, fireworks, coloured sand, decorative candles and lamps, with the latter accounting for its designation as the “festival of lights”.

Diwali Festival

Baisakhi in Central and Northern India, Bohag Bihu in Assam, Puthandu in Tamil Naru and Ugadi in Andhra Prades, meanwhile, all hold their new year celebrations around the middle of April in honour of the looming harvest season. This sees local residents don new clothes while paying their respects to elders and families unite for lavish and lengthy feasts. Sinhalese New Year over in Sri Lanka is celebrated around the same time and typically revolves around rhythmic beats on the rabana (a one-sided traditional drum), sweet delicacies, and the melodies of the koel, a stringed instrument used to soundtrack the incoming New Year.


In most countries along the traditional Silk Road routes – including Afghanistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Albania, Georgia and the central Asian countries – Nowruz (Persian new year) is still celebrated by millions, with the festival coinciding with the spring equinox. Dating back to at least the 6th century BC, the celebration is widely believed to be rooted in Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest faiths.

(Nowruz) Persian New Year

As, by far, Iran’s most significant annual festival, Nowruz is celebrated in many different ways, including huge firework displays, jumping over bonfires (apparently as a symbol of the renewal of life) and the release of sky lanterns bearing the hopes and dreams of locals. The festival is also celebrated in all five of the ‘Stans’ – Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan – where it traditionally inspires a host of floral and light decorations, special meals and desserts, family gatherings, colourful street parties, the playing of traditional board games and the staging of major sporting events, notably wrestling and horseracing.

(Nowruz) Persian New Year

However and wherever it is celebrated, New Year is among the most significant festivals for people and cultures the world over. There’s something almost primordial about the compulsion to acknowledge the arrival of a fresh 12-month cycle. So, no matter where you find yourself this year and no matter how the locals opt to mark the occasion, immerse yourself in every passing moment and welcome in this new beginning as wholeheartedly as you can.


(Text: Zaira Abbas)

Best Bids Bulletin

Take a look at Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Mailyn becoming the most expensive artwork, Royal Mughal pashmina carpet selling for a princely sum, 1898 Peugeot Type 15 topping the bill at car auction and an Ancient God’s herm selling for twice its estimate.


Simply Divine

Ancient relic sells for twice its estimate

In a true celebration of ancient relics and artworks, Christie’s recently had up for auction a private collection of New York Antiquarium, The Devoted Classicist, which featured more than 40 lots of ancient art from the Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Egyptian eras. Among the various distinctive pieces up for grabs were Athenian vases, Egyptian portrait heads and Roman marble statues of gods, goddesses and Imperial individuals, with one of the most notable sculptures featuring three depictions of the Greco-Roman God Dionysus.

The 8.5-inch marble masterpiece fetched an astonishing US$151,200 (HK$1.8 million) surpassing its estimated value of between US$70,000-US$90,000. Known as the God of fruitfulness, vegetation, wine and ecstasy, the Dionysus pieces date back to the second century AD.

Its Archaic portrayal shows a God with a layered spadeshaped beard, angled moustache and two rows of tight culrs falling on each shoulder, while the classical side has a pointed beard, full moustache and vertical locks on forehead. The late-classical style has a long moustache and long tendrils over the shoulders.


Centre Sage

Warhol’s work takes top billing at New York sale

The Shot Sage Blue Marilyn by pop art icon Andy Warhol became the most valuable of all his paintings, after being sold at a Christie’s auction in New York for US$195 million (HK$1.5 billion). It also became the most expensive artwork of the 20th century breaking the record previously held by Picasso’s 1955 artwork Less Femmes D’agler, which sold for US$179.4 Million in 2015. For its part, Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn dates back to 1964 and forms part of a series of five paintings made on a 40 square-inch acrylic and silkscreen on linen.

Tellingly, it was estimated to sell for around US$ 200 million, setting a record for the highest pre-auction estimate of any artwork ever, The sale of this piece was the undoubted highlight of the auction, which saw 36 other works contributing to total takings of US$318 million. The item was from the collection of two late Swiss gallerists, Thomas and Doris Ammann, the cofounders of Thomas Ammann Fine Art in Zurich. All proceeds from the sales will fund the foundation’s work of investing in global healthcare initiatives for underprivileged children and young adults.


Mat Effect

The Royal rug goes for a princely sum

An extraordinarily rare Royal Mughal pashmina carpet, woven for the court of the Indian Emperor Shah Jahan, circa 1650, sold at Christie’s for a hefty £5,442,000 (HK$ 48.6 million), going for more than twice the pre-sale estimate. Competitive telephone bidding for the Mughal Carpet lasted more than 10 minutes – a long time in auction terms. The carpet itself is square in shape, with each side measuring 275 cm and features geometrical traditional floral patterns.

It is one of only four 17th-century pashmina carpets remaining in private hands known for its brilliant colours and intricate pattern with a Lattice and Flower design. Due to the fragility of the silk and the finely spun pashmina pile, very few examples survive, making a carpet of this size and condition an extraordinarily rare memento of the golden age of Imperial Mughal carpet production. The carpet was the undoubted highlight of the Art of the Islamic & Indian World (including Oriental Rugs and Carpet) sale, which raised a total of £15,989,352 (HK$142.8 million). The auction comprised 265 lots, including works of art, paintings, carpets and manuscripts from the ninth through to the 20th century.


Vintage Voyage

Classic car drives high bids

A Victorian-era 1898 Peugeot Type 15 topped the bill at the recent Bonhams London Golden Age of Motoring 2022 classic car auction, which took place just before the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. Selling for a staggering £494,500 (HK$ 4.4 million), it went way over its pre-sale estimate of £275000 -£325000. Peugeot is one of the most well-known French motoring marques and the only long-established firm to still be manufacturing two-cylinder engine cars, with its current portfolio of models ranging from 8hp to 5hp.

This fully-restored Peugeot offers four-speed plus reverse transmission and an early form of cruise control, advanced features for its day.

This car’s early history suggests that it was first purchased by someone in 1898 in the Mauriac region of France. It also appears that this car received special attention as evidenced by the larger than usual number of nickel-plated parts in addition to Peugeot’s liberal stamping of the car number on the chassis, body, and various other components. These were discovered during restoration, confirming the car’s unusually high degree of originality.

Moneyopolis- which Metropolis has more mega-rich residents than any other place in the planet?

Much has been said and lists have been created by numerous groups and publications with their own ranking of which city tops other cities in terms of its Gross Domestic Product, number of millionaires and all other varying elements.

In a city like Hong Kong, where any house and estate owner can easily be considered a millionaire due to the high property and land rate, we take it a notch higher and count the billionaires in these cities instead. The high-net-worth people or the “individuals with net assets of USD $1 billion or more”, or the billionaires who reside in these cities on the list, were taken into account.

With cities from the United States, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Oceania and Swiss cantons, a new metropolis has proven itself a better base for the mega-rich. A quick peruse of the updated Rich List, as ever, makes for a fascinating reading.

20. Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne is home to 12 billionaires, 149 centimillionaires and 97,300 millionaires, as well as several of Australia’s leading companies, including ANZ, BHP, Rio Tinto and Telstra.

19. Zurich, Switzerland
Almost tied with Melbourne, The Canton of Zurich is also home to 12 billionaires, including 258 centimillionaires and 105,100 millionaires, as well as three globally-leading private banks –  Credit Suisse, Julius Baer and UBS.

18. Tokyo, Japan
Joining this triple tie is Tokyo, which is also home to 12 billionaires, including 263 centimillionaires and 304,900 millionaires, with its wealth spread largely across lower-tier millionaires, as evidenced by the relatively low level of its billionaire population but ranks 2nd highest in terms of millionaires. Honda, Hitachi, Mitsubishi and Sony are among the most significant businesses with headquarters in the city.

17. Frankfurt, Germany
Frankfurt, the wealthiest city in continental Europe, is home to 14 billionaires, including 161 centimillionaires and 117,400 millionaires.

16. Paris, France
There are 15 billionaires, 121 centimillionaires and more than 88,600 millionaires in Paris. Key industries include financial services, luxury products and hospitality. The city is home to many of the biggest businesses in Europe, including BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole and Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

15. Sydney, Australia
Sydney, which has 16 billionaires, 188 centimillionaires and 129,500 millionaires, has had very high wealth development over the past 20 years and is quickly rising to the top of the list of global financial hubs. Bellevue Hill, Darling Point, Double Bay, Dover Heights, Longueville, Mosman, Point Piper and Vaucluse are a few examples of affluent suburbs.

14. Geneva, Switzerland
Geneva is home to some of the world’s most highlyprivileged people, with about 18% of its population classified as high-net-worth persons. It is tied with Sydney with 16 billionaires, but with 345 centimillionaires and notably high concentration of 90,300 millionaires, and is home to prominent businesses like Rolex, Patek Philippe and Pictet.

13. Toronto, Canada
Toronto is home to 17 billionaires, 187 centimillionaires and 116,100 millionaires. Brookfield Asset Management, The Four Seasons Hotel Group, the Royal Bank of Canada and Scotiabank are just a few of the notable businesses with headquarters in the metropolis.

12. Dallas, Texas
There are 18 billionaires in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, including 211 centimillionaires and 92,300 millionaires, with American Airlines, AT&T, CBRE, ExxonMobil and Southwest Airlines also all calling it home.

11. Seoul, Korea
There are 25 billionaires, including 241 centimillionaires and 102,100 millionaires living in Seoul, while Hyundai, Kookmin Bank, LG and Samsung also call it home.

10. Houston, US
Entering the top 10 is Houston, Texas with 25 billionaires same with Seoul, but with 314 centimillionaires and 132,600 millionaires. In terms of wealth expansion over the past 20 years, the city has been one of the fastest growing in the world. It also leads the US in a number of important sectors, including engineering, oil, gas and aviation.

9. Singapore
Singapore is Asia’s second-largest millionaire enclave after Tokyo. But at present, the city state is said to be home to 26 billionaires, including 336 centimillionaires and 249,800 millionaires. It has also been deemed one of the world’s most business-friendly cities.

8. Hong Kong, China
10 years ago, Hong Kong was the second wealthiest city in the Asia-Pacific region after Tokyo. Although it has slipped down the ranking, it is still home to 28 billionaires, 280 centimillionaires and 125,100 millionaires. Many of Asia’s richest business people continue to reside in the city and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange is still one of the most significant stock markets in the world.

7. Chicago, US
Chicago, the largest inland city in the US, has a highly diversified economy with strengths across a number of important industry sectors. Tied with Hong Kong, it is home to 28 billionaires, including 340 centimillionaires and 160,100 millionaires. Notable firms including, McDonald’s and Boeing, have their headquarters in the city.

6. Los Angeles, US
It is estimated that there are 34 billionaires living in the region, along with 393 centimillionaires and 92,400 millionaires living in the region. This figure includes wealth held in the city of Los Angeles, as well as in nearby Malibu, Beverly Hills, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Santa Monica. Entertainment, IT, retail, and transportation are the region’s key sectors.

5. London, United Kingdom
At present, the British capital is said to be home to 38 billionaires, including 406 centimillionaires and 272,400 millionaires. Particularly favoured by the mega-wealthy are the houses and apartments with views of Hampstead Heath, Regents Park or one of the city’s other green spaces.

4. Shanghai, China
Shanghai, the most populous city in China, is home to 42 billionaires, 350 centimillionaires and 130,100 millionaires, as well as being regarded as the country’s financial hub. According to market cap, the Shanghai Stock Exchange is the third biggest in the world (after the Dow Jones and NASDAQ).

3. Beijing, China
Beijing, makes it to the top 3 having a particularly high number of billionaires – 44. It is also home to 363 centimillionaires and 131,500 millionaires. In addition, Beijing is home to the majority of China’s biggest corporations.

2. New York, US
Settling in for number 2, the Big Apple has 59 billionaires, including 737 centimillionaires and 345,600 millionaires. It is also home to the world’s two largest stock exchanges by market cap (the Dow Jones and NASDAQ)

1. San Francisco Bay area, US
This year, San Francisco Bay Area takes the top spot and claims its status as the Richest Billionaire City in the World. In all, the city has more members of the four-comma club than any other metropolis on the planet, with 62 billionaires, including 623 centimillionaires and 276,400 millionaires. Home to wealthy tech millionaires, Silicon Valley has been consistent on the list of billionaire hubs.


(Text: Joseff Musa)

Celebrating the year’s most hilarious quips, anecdotes and happenstances

We all need a little humour to make life a little bit more tolerable sometimes. As the old adage goes, “laughter is the best medicine”. Indeed we have scientific research to back that up. Especially in trying times and difficult situations, it helps to let your hair down and have a good old belly laugh.

Or even a gentle chortle. As comedian and political satirist Jon Steward once said, “Comedy is in the middle of a traffic jam, getting everybody moving again.” This time around, though, we’re turning the attention from ourselves and on to some of the most laughable events to have made headlines this year…

Musk be a Mistake

At one point or another, especially after a few too many pints, many of us have had the experience of tweeting something we’d later regret. Except, in most occasions, it doesn’t result in a billion-dollar lawsuit. The same can’t be said about Tesla CEO Elon Musk however.

After months of buzz around Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s claims to buy Twitter, the quirky SpaceX founder has finally declared that he will not be pursuing ownership of Twitter after attempting to terminate a signed merger agreement in April. As a result, Twitter has sued the business magnate for backing out of a US$44 billion acquisition.

Sniping back at the social media platform, Musk has accused the company of misleading him with inaccurate data, obfuscating facts, not notifying him of layoffs and executive changes, as well as refusing to hand over “useable” user data – all of which allegedly constitute a “breach” of the agreement, according to Musk’s lawyers. As the case goes on, if found liable, Musk will be obliged to pay a US$1 billion break-up fee according to the agreement.

Bagel Wars

Money, muscles and bagels. Hong Kong is known to be one of the safest cities in the world, with murder and theft cases being comparatively lower than other cities. However, a recent scuffle between two establishments has turned sour and you bet social media was quick to catch on. 

In June, the infamous Bagel War was the talk of Kennedy Town and almost every English media in the city. Mendel’s, a New York bagel shop went viral on social media for a video they posted to their Instagram page in which men in black shirts were seen blocking entry to the store and telling customers that they were not allowed in, while employees can be heard yelling from inside to customers that the deli was in fact open.

The establishment had accused rival Schragel’s founder Rebecca Schragel of having hired security to harass customers and employees. In the video, customers can be seen struggling to pass through – dodging and pushing their way past the burly men. While many customers and supporters of the eatery were enraged, some found amusement in the turn of events.

It was cleared that Rebecca Schrage, a majority shareholder of Mendel’s was suing her partners for financial disputes.

It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

Nobody wants to be broken up with on text or over the phone. However, that didn’t stop the head of state of Sri Lanka to pack up and flee the country in the wake of anti-government protests in July.

It was confirmed By Mahinda Yapa Abeywardenena, the Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka, that Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had sent over his resignation through e-mail and fled to Singapore on a flight from the Maldives.

Abeywardenena has told media that “we cannot accept such an email at face value” and that the legality of such a declaration needs to be legally verified, ascertained and officially confirmed. The state is expecting a paper copy of the letter but is expecting the letter to come through at a later time as it would be sent from Singapore.

It’s Türkiye, not Turkey

When you think of Turkey, what springs to mind? If you say a large gobbling bird, you’re not alone. Most of us have all been guilty of associating “Turkey” with the thanksgiving dinner table rather than paying any mind to the actual country. In fact, if you type it into Google, you’re quite likely to see pages worth of the large game bird.

As such, the government of Turkey had formally advocated to officially change the country’s name to Türkiye (pronounced tur-key-yay), even producing a video commercial of the movement. It doesn’t help that the word is also alternatively defined as “a stupid or inept person”.

The name was changed to reframe the country’s image and connect it to its cultural roots. The process of the country’s renaming had began in December 2021 when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a statement saying, “The word ‘Turkiye’ represents and expresses the culture, civilisation, and values of the Turkish nation in the best way.” In June, The United Nations officially recognised Turkey as Türkiye and had implemented the change shortly after receipt of the request.

Behind Every Dream is Cartier

Contrary to high end jeweller Tiffany & Co.’s tagline: Behind every dream is a dreamer, a recent legal battle between the high-end brand and competitor Cartier has pit the two luxury brands against each other.

In march Cartier accused Tiffany & Co. of stealing trade secrets of the brand’s bespoke jewellery collection. According to a complaint filed in a New York state court in Manhattan, Tiffany had hired an under qualified junior manager to learn more about Cartier’s High Jewelry collection, in which pieces cost from US$50,000 to US$10 million.

The manager also happened to be a former executive worker for Cartier and was hired despite her six-month non-compete agreement. She was then fired after five weeks. Tiffany had since denied all allegations Cartier has made thus far. Although this isn’t the first legal battle between the two, it’s still a saucy affair to see two major league brands go head to head. 

Metabirkins? Nadabirkins!

As vague as the lines are between reality and the metaverse, to luxury conglomerate Hermès, the boundaries of copyright is clear.

In January, Hermès sent artist Mason Rothschild a cease and desist letter and filed a lawsuit in federal court in the Southern District of New York for alleged trademark infringement, false designation of origin, trademark dilution, and cyber-squatting.

This lawsuit followed a sale by the artist of reinterpreted Berkin NFTs, coined the word “Metabirkins”, within the metaverse. The NFT features furry renderings of Hermes’s iconic Birkin handbag. Artist Mason Rothschild has since claimed his First Amendment right and right to artistic expression, stating that the Metabirkins are not explicitly misleading.


Much Ado About Nothing

If there is one thing the infamous reality TV family The Kardashians is known for, it’s controversy – and there is a lot – enough propel the family into global fame. For what exactly? Absolutely nothing, allegedly.

Which is ironic since the most famous of the Kardashian-Jenner clan Kim Kardashian has been criticised for an interview in which she advised women who want to make a successful career in business with this statement: “I have the best advice for women in business,” she says. “Get your f—–g a– up and work. It seems like nobody wants to work these days.

The punch line here is that the family has been called out several times in the past, including by Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters for having no talent or any particular expertise or professional background. Yet, for two decades they have become a household name across the globe and cashed on millions for their Keeping Up with the Kardashians reality show in which they do, well…nothing…


Text: Staff Writer

NFTs: Future of investment or another bubble waiting to burst?

The world is now divided into two types of people: those who invest in NFTs and those who don’t. As mind-boggling as it is, an increasing number of people now use digital currency to purchase digital goods – or rather the certificates that legitimises ownership of said items – without ever having to physically touch them at all.

5000 days NFT artwork by Beeple

NFTs have been around since 2014, but they were relatively low profile before the end of the decade. They really began sweeping the internet last year, when this novel technology went mainstream and disrupted industries across the board, especially the art world. The NFT landscape has rapidly evolved over the past 12 months, with more institutions around the world and some governments recognising cryptocurrency as legal tender and NFTs as strong investments.

Even a traditional international art auction house like Sotheby’s has launched its own Metaverse dedicated to NFTs and digital art. So, those few who still staunchly prefer cash in hand might just have to come to terms with this new digitalised transaction that is revolutionising the financial, investment and creative sectors.


Cryptocurrency and NFTs: What’s the difference?
An NFT (non-fungible token) is a unique digitalised certificate that entitles one, and only one, person to exclusive ownership of an asset. Cryptocurrency is a peer-to-peer electronic cash system, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Doge, used to purchase NFTs. Blockchain is the platform on which all cashless digital transactions happen. The process is calculated by a large group of computers and recorded publicly, but anonymously, on the internet to ensure everything adds up. This provides transparency and avoids human error or the risk of financial mismanagement.


Yet, the use of digital ownership tokens remains controversial. While championed by artists and tech-savvy investors, others are cautious, citing a volatile, unregulated marketplace. Environmental campaigners, in particular, decry the huge amount of energy they eat up. What does that mean for Hong Kongers looking to invest in NFTs? And is embracing crypto a positive move for society? We break down the pros and cons…

Andrew Mok’s debut solo exhibition at Shout Art Hub & Gallery, Hysan place

Democratising art and the value of scarcity
NFTs spurred a creative boom for developers and artists last year. Helping to democratise art, they allow creators control and ownership of their created content while also sharing deserved revenue, and offering involvement in a community of like-minded individuals. The key takeaway here is that NFTs are one-of-a-kind, non-fungible and certified original tokens of an object, whose value is dictated by the community, not an institution or an art market.

NFT artwork by James Jean Forager

Pro: They certainly benefitted Hong Kong high schooler, illustrator and graphic artist Andrew Mok. Also known as Offgod, Mok is a cover artist for social media rappers such as Bella Poarch, The Kid Laroi, and the late Juice Wrld. He was invited to do an NFT exhibition – his first solo exhibition – at Shout Art Hub & Gallery in Hysan Place – a gallery dedicated to NFTs and digital art and providing global support for local artists. “Offgod’s skill is very mature and creative with his own style and he has over 200,000 followers on social media from all over the world,” says gallery founder Christopher Tang. “The feedback from the market exceeded my expectations. We sold every art piece by the end of the first week – and some pieces pre-sold before the exhibition opened, which for a [then] 17-year old local artist is a miracle.”

Con: Difficulties arise when talking about value and how volatile the NFT marketplace can be. Unlike stocks or bonds, there is no way of knowing the intrinsic value of an NFT investment. What makes a successful NFT largely depends on how the popularity of the brand is, and how strongly the community feels about it.

The scarcity principle used in economics, social psychology and manipulating consumer behaviour theorises that greater value is placed on items that are scarce or in low supply, but in the case of NFTs, it is perhaps the exclusive ownership of a token that creates value rather than the uniqueness of the object itself. Why else would crypto entrepreneur Sina Estavi pay US$2.9 million for Twitter CEO and founder Jack Dorsey’s first tweet?


Pushing the boundaries of technology

There is one thing that is undeniable about the technology behind blockchain and cryptocurrencies, and it is that it has pushed the boundaries of how society and systems utilise computers for the purposes of validation and verification. As evidence by the 2008 financial crisis following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, there is room for error and risk of mismanaging financial systems when regulators are in a position to control funds.


Pro: Blockchain technology is a complex system that allows for strong security since it acts as a shared, immutable ledger; it is almost impossible to hack, alter and manipulate because all transaction records are publicly documented, in contrast to transactions conducted on traditional platforms.

Cons: However, ideal and utilitarian the blockchain is in theory, without the middleman or an institutional buffer between consumers and retail, NFTs leave investors vulnerable. Their value is volatile, and there is still the potential for fraud, scam and theft during transfers within the NFT marketplace, despite the security of blockchain and the anonymity it allows. The process and language can be complex as well, especially for those new to the NFT scene.

If the goal is to truly democratise blockchain and the NFT market for the masses, the exponential growth will require an institutional buffer to aid buyers and investors to oversee the marketplace, as risk in their trade is still very much present.

Bored Ape NFTs by Bored Ape Yacht Club

Future or fad?
Whichever side one stands on the debate of NFTs as the future of investment, there is no denying the good they have reaped for artists and creators, inspiring them to take the lead in how their own creations are presented in the market. Artists have been enabled to deal directly with buyers and control the revenue they earn, while building communities of like-minded individuals with the same interests, fostering a positive and empowering influence for creators.

However, there are fears that a new law that will come into effect next year will stymie the growth of cryptocurrency in the city. The new legislation states that virtual asset trading platforms will face regulations and be monitored through a licensing system to prevent illegal activities, particularly money laundering. This will undermine the main point of decentralising, but perhaps it is a middle ground both sides can come together on.

Five reasons to buy from local coffee roasters and where to find them

Few things beat the pleasure of a morning cuppa, freshly roasted, grounded and brewed to rich, nutty perfection. Although a quick tap on a Nespresso machine could easily hit the right spot, there is something about fresh grounds that completes the blissful experience of a morning brew. Coffee roasters take raw coffee which comes in varying degrees of green and “cook” them in a roasting machine specially designed for coffee beans. Combining the perfect temperature and measurements of air, gas and time, roasteries are able to bring out the full, robust flavours of each coffee type. 

Sourcing from local roasteries across the city, these experts not only provide the freshest options of roasted coffees, but also provide top quality and a wide range of choices that are notches above those you would find at your neighbourhood supermarket.

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Making sure you always start your day right, Gafencu searched far and wide to find the local coffee roasteries to get your coffee beans freshly roasted and ensure you have your cuppa right. Check out our guide to the best local coffee roasters in the city.

1. Freshness

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To those uninitiated in the art of coffee making, many might not know that coffee is at its peak flavour between 3 days to 2 weeks after it’s been roasted. Which explains why store bought — no matter the grade, quality, origin and price, never seems to give you that same satisfaction and joy that a freshly roasted, ground cup of coffee does.

2. Quality

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(Photo courtesy of Coffee Roaster Asia)

Coffee making is a passion that gives and takes. To the coffee roasters, it is an art form, a combination of experience, expertise and calculative measurement that highlights the best flavour profile, aromatic notes and characteristics of each varietal type. To its customers, it is an aromatic pleasure and appreciation of quality and delicious notes that makes their day.

Much like sommeliers, coffee roasters use their knowledge of the wide range of variety, country of origin and altitudes, and source products small farmers that work hard to produce good quality coffee. These experts understand how best to roast the beans to bring out the full potential of each varietal — producing rich and balanced flavours.


Also Read: Ruling the Roast: Charting the rise of coffee culture around the world

3. Choices

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(Photo courtesy of Hazel & Hershey coffee roasters)

Offering more than just your typical Arabica and Robusta at your local supermarket, coffee roasters are just as passionate about their coffees as their drinkers. They source the best quality of coffee they can afford and import from a range of different countries. At your local coffee roastery will find a slew of choices that go beyond the milder Brazilian and Colombian options, such as the fruitier Ethiopian varietal or the richer Kenyan alternative. 

4. Expertise

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(Photo courtesy of Coffee Roasters Asia)


When you visit your local roastery, you will be able to experience different types or flavors of coffee that you might not otherwise be exposed to at your local Starbucks. And with so many choices to choose from, it can be overwhelming to pick out the right one to suit your palate. Fortunately, coffee roasters are knowledgeable in all things coffee, and will happily answer your brewing qualm, from brewing techniques to grind sizes and water ratio for particular brewing methods. 

5. Better for the environment

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Buying roasted coffee beans from local coffee roasteries are, not only a pleasure to drink, but it is also a great way to practice sustainability. The green at local coffee roasteries are roasted daily, some are roasted-to-order, and produced in small batches which helps reduce carbon footprint. You can also find certified Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance labels on some brands that ensures sustainable sourcing and productions. 


Also Read: Coveted Cuppas: The most expensive Chinese teas in the world

Where to get your fresh locally roasted coffee beans?

18 Grams 
18 Grams is Hong Kong’s premium specialty coffee company, Each coffee bean is grind upon order, ensuring maximum flavor from each type of coffee bean, they also offer coffee brewing equipment on our website. For more information: Good Luck Industrial Building, Kwun Tong.

Coffee Roasters Asia
Coffee Roasters Asia sources high-quality green from coffee around the world. They offer a range of quality blends, single origin and premium coffee to choose from and frequently update their selections, providing customers a new flavour each time they return. Home delivery across the city is also available. For more information: (852) 9889 6155. Aberdeen Industrial Building, Aberdeen.

Hazel & Hershey Coffee Roasters
Hazel & Hershey is a certified Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance company. Exercising the practice of mindfully sourced beans, innovative coffee products and using pckaging materials such as 100% recyclable PE/EVOH coffee bags, their promotion of community and sustainable practices are central to its brand mission. Aside from coffee their online and retail stores also offer accessories for customers’ brewing needs. For more information: (852) 3106 0760 / (852) 9628 2468. Peel Street, Central.

Cowbird Coffee
Most coffee lovers would have heard of % Arabica by now, but did you know that its Hawaii-originated beans are roasted locally in Lantau Island? Cowbird Coffee is a small batch artisan roastery that offers a roast-to-order service. For more information:

K-Town Roasters
Kennedy Town’s best kept secret is this hidden away homegrown K-Town Roasters. New to the scene this roastery only opened shop in 2021, offering locally crafted, carefully selected espresso blends and single origins that are freshly roasted in their Kennedy Town roastery. For more information:


Also Read: Locally Distilled: Have you tried Hong Kong’s hottest craft gins?