Founder and Head Roaster at Cupping Room Coffee Roastery
With an eye for business and a love of coffee, the first spark for Cupping Room Coffee Roasters was in the USA. “Starting my MBA in San Francisco, I was really hooked on specialty coffee’s character. I was inspired by the retail and coffee experience at Blue Bottle. For me, it really was all about exploring flavours in the cup and the stories behind the coffee”
“Hong Kong is a very interesting place for specialty coffee. It’s a young and dynamic market – there is really something to suit all tastes. Because the local population doesn’t have a long or prominent coffee drinking history (like Japan does with filter coffee), there is very little habitual/daily coffee drinking, and very little preconception on what is good, what is bad, what is expensive, and what is good value.” Going with his gut, Kapo moved back to Hong Kong to open the first Cupping Room in Stanley Market in 2011.
During the 2012 Vienna World Brewers Cup was where Kapo met Andy Sprenger of Sweet Bloom, a roaster from Colorado. “I was volunteering and Andy let me try his competition coffee which was the same coffee I used to place 2nd in the 2014 WBC. We became his first wholesale customer and although he no longer roasts for us, we have evolved our relationship to sourcing coffees together; our vision for what makes a tasty cup is still very much aligned. We’re now roasting with a Probat UG15, an iconic piece of German engineering from the 1950’s which, in the right hands, consistently delivers a signature profile that fully accentuates each coffee’s sweetness and aroma.”
Why did you decide to start competing?
It had a lot to do with timing. Cupping Room started in 2011, which was also the first year that the WBC-sanctioned Hong Kong Barista Championships were held. I saw it as a great way to learn quickly, meet industry people, as well as grow the brand all at the same time.
What has been the key to your success in competition?
Mainly perseverance - the feeling of never being satisfied with the quality that we are serving. This drives us to find ways to do everything better.
Where did you learn how to roast coffee?
Of course from Padawan to Master Andy Sprenger!
How would you describe your roasting style?
We roast like a champ! Every coffee is roasted to maximize sweetness and aroma like how we would for competition.
What was the concept for Cupping Room when you first opened the shop?
It was meant to be a place to discover great coffee. At the time, we curated coffee from roasters around the world so that our customers could discover their favourite coffee.
What is your preferred way of brewing coffee?
Melitta single hole filter dripper.
What's your go-to pourover recipe?
1:17 ratio, 93C, 2:45 total brew time, pulse pouring. 15g of coffee and pouring 40g every 20s. Easy, simple, repeatable.
“If I wasn’t in the coffee industry, I would want to be a...