Boris Lee - Head Roaster
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Boris moved with his family to Ontario, Canada in 2010 for a new chapter of their lives. “We wanted our daughter to have a less stressful childhood so my family moved here when she was 3 and ready for kindergarten”, says Boris. “Back then, I would stay in Hong Kong for a few months every year up until 2013 – then I got a committed job and really settled down. It’s been 4 years now since I’ve been back to Hong Kong.”
“I first started drinking coffee when I was 14. Like almost every local in Hong Kong, my first exposure to coffee was in a cha chan teng (traditional Hong Kong café). At that age, ordering a coffee was like a statement of showing that you’re grown up (or so we thought) and independent. It was all milk and sugar so it was easy to drink. 15 years ago now, I got my first piece of specialty brewing gear – a syphon from my then-girlfriend-now-wife as a birthday present. I did quite a lot of research on the internet on ways to make better coffee with the syphon and it really opened the door into specialty coffee for me. That’s when I started spending a lot of time at Knockbox Coffee, Barista Jam and Coco Espresso, my usual hangouts in Hong Kong. After moving to Canada, I chased my love for coffee with my first job in the industry roasting at a shop called Velvet Sunrise in Stouffville, Ontario before moving on to roast for Hatch.”
What are you roasting with?
An Ikawa Pro for sample roasting and a Loring 35kg.
Which roasters do you look up to the most?
Coffee Collective for their approach to light roasted espresso. Tim Wendelboe for their transparency in sourcing and Phil and Sebastian/George Howell for their paramount dedication to preserving freshness and quality control of coffee.
What do you think of the Hong Kong coffee scene and how has it changed since you’ve left the city?
It was quite boring when I first left Hong Kong. There were only a handful of coffee shops that offered really drinkable espresso but the scene has improved exponentially since. Now I can say that Hong Kong could easily be considered as one of the top 10 coffee cities in the world.
What was your favorite area of Hong Kong
Shatin – that’s where I grew up and have my fondest childhood memories
How do you normally brew your morning coffee?
Usually as a pourover using either my Kono or Kalita Wave
What's your go-to pourover recipe?
It really depends on the coffee but I start with a 1:15 ratio, 94 degrees Celsius water and aim for a total brew time of 3m30s.
Describe the ideal day away from the roastery
I’d stay at home and play Winning Eleven on the PS4 but that would never happen with two kids fighting for the remote!
If I wasn't a roaster, I would be a...