Ching Kwok

Founder of Roastwork

"It started when a friend made me a cup of coffee with her espresso machine at home. It was so good that I had to ask about the beans she used, and it turned out that she had a friend who owned a coffee farm in Yunnan, China. The whole idea of picking and roasting coffee was a novel one, so when she asked me to visit the farm, I jumped at the offer. At the farm, my friend roasted the coffee directly over a fire for me to try, and although the roast wasn't very even, the acidity was well balanced with a distinct orange note. Even without any special equipment, this cup of coffee was one of the most memorable.” 

“I started my career as a commercial pilot, and to this day, I continue to fly. Coffee was always on my mind though, and with the days between flights that I had in Hong Kong, I began my coffee journey by opening a small coffee shop which I roasted coffee for from the beginning. I formally got my Q-Grader certification, but learning to roast came down to years of cupping, tasting and understanding the characteristics of coffee. To this day, my roasting style is consistently changing depending on the beans that we're bringing in, searching for the highest degree of sweetness that we look for in our profiles. " 

In 2018, Ching put the skills he learned to the test by competing in the Hong Kong Aeropress Championship and ultimately taking home the top prize. "I honestly didn't prepare too much for it and just took it as a challenge to see what I could do with a plunger style brewer. If there was one key to winning, it would be to understand your method well enough to be able to adjust your brewing on the fly for each type of coffee you are faced with. " 

What is your favourite coffee region? 
Kenya - I roast them light to showcase the clean, juicy profile with a fruity acidity that I love. 

What roaster are you using? 
At the moment, we are roasting on 2 Giesen machines side by side. We chose to go with Giesen for its airflow control and heat capacity. The size is perfect for us to create amazing roast profiles with a lot of flexibility. 

Do you prefer filter coffee or espresso? 
My preferred brewing method is pour-over - there's a lot to play around with and adjust, which makes it so much fun. 

What's your pour-over recipe? 
It depends on the dripper, but I've been mostly using a flat bottom these days like the Origami or Kalita. I use a ratio of 1:15, medium grind size (slightly finer than sea salt) and try to finish with 2 pours under 2 minutes. 

Do you prefer sourcing, roasting or brewing? 
As a coffee roaster, I actually enjoy each step of the process equally. I don't think I would be happy completely letting someone take over one of these steps for me. I believe every step of the way is connected to the cup: what you can taste is because of how you brew; how you brew depends on how we roast; how we roast depends on the green beans sourced. 

Which city do you think has the best coffee culture? 
Probably Melbourne or Sydney. Beyond fantastic coffee, they have a very positive and encouraging culture for baristas and roasters. 

"If I wasn't in the coffee industry, I would want to be a ____________."
Sommelier. I've recently started learning (and drinking) a lot about wine, and there are a lot of commonalities with coffee. 

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