John So, Founder of 18 Grams
"What I think is the most interesting is that with specialty coffee, nothing is constant. Everything is so volatile. Even some of the best tasting coffee and most consistent baristas couldn't make the same coffee again because of how many factors are involved. Roasting will always be a little different, especially during changes in seasons; the crops from this year will taste different from last year. And the taste of a cup of coffee will change depending on temperature. Everything is just so volatile, and you learn to enjoy the moment and treasure what you have right now.
I think Hong Kong has one of the best coffee scenes in the world. We are a small city, which makes it very easy to get around and cafe hop. Having travelled and judged in competitions around the world, I can say that the quality of coffee that we have in Hong Kong is definitely up there with the best coffee cities. I really think the general standard in Hong Kong is very high.
I used to be a programmer developing apps before my sister approached me with the coffee business. We started as a wholesale roaster selling to other cafes before we ever started our own. We decided to open the shop side of the business to showcase what our coffee can be like, and how it would taste if properly prepared."
Where did you learn to roast coffee?
I started roasting around 2017.
How would you describe your roasting style?
We like to roast our coffee so that it's easy to brew, sweet and balanced with body, and to have a lingering aftertaste.
What roaster are you using?
We have a Diedrich IR-10
Which do you prefer: roasting, brewing or sourcing?
I probably enjoy brewing the most, I find the process of grinding and brewing to be quite relaxing.
What's your favourite way of brewing coffee?
I prefer Clever cup in the morning cause it's the easiest to make) and pour over any other time.
What's your favourite region for coffee?
I would say Ethiopia for the fruitiness of the coffee.
How do you spend your spare time outside of 18 Grams?
I enjoy spending most of my spare time with my two daughters.
Can you explain the meaning behind the name 18 Grams Coffee?
When we first started, we found that our style of roasting produced the sweetest and more aromatic shots when pulled using an 18 gram filter basket so we decided to name the café after that. Also, for those who are familiar with Chinese culture, the number 18 represents good luck.
What is your pourover recipe? (grind size, coffee to water ratio, water temp, target brew time)
I brew most of my coffee for my colleagues at work, so we need a fair amount to pass around. My brewing recipe is 21g of coffee, with around 300ml out with a total brew time of around 2 minutes. It make around 3-4 cups to share around.
"If I didn't work in the coffee industry, I would want to be a _______________"