Founder of Freshness Coffee
“I think I just got tired of working in banking. It was a comfort zone that I was in for a long time and I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life doing the same – it was time to restart the second half of my life with something new.” Leaving his long-rooted career in the banking service industry, Michael dropped everything he knew to jump head first into his passion for coffee.
“Specialty coffee was never a thing growing up in Hong Kong,” says Michael. “Coffee was simply one of the drink options that came along with your lunch set at the local cafes - heavy in milk and sugar.” But Michael was part of a small group of early adopters who wanted to show this traditionally tea drinking audience what great coffee could be and he has since gained a reputation as being one of the best networked coffee professionals out there, both locally and beyond the borders of Hong Kong. Through his travels with his wife, Michael has come to personally know roasters all across the world and these relationships would form one of the main draws to his cosy shop, Freshness Coffee.
The shop would always have an ever changing menu of guest beans from roasters around the world that they’ve tried and loved, even after he started roasting his own coffee. “When we first started the shop, we wanted to be able to share these different roasting styles from roasters both big and small, near and far,” says Michael. “This desire to share has been a constant thread in everything that we’ve done and continue to do.”
How did you learn to roast coffee?
My knowledge of roasting was really accelerated while I was working for Blooms Roastery and Craft Tea as a roaster. At first, I simply investigated and worked to mimic the roast profiles already set out by their previous roaster. Over time through experimentation and many nights of testing, I started to develop my own profiles where it highlighted the flavour attributes that I valued the most.
What roasting machine are you using?
A Giesen W6a
What’s your favourite region for coffee?
There are exceptional lots from all around the world but Ethiopia and Panama tend to be consistently great for their sweetness and complexity.
What’s your favourite way of making your morning cup of coffee?
Pour overs using a Kono dripper
What’s your go-to pour over recipe?
Using a Yang Chia flat burr grinder that I picked up in Taiwan, I start with a ratio of 15 grams of coffee to 240ml of water (1:16) and water temperature at 93 °C. Total brew time should be about 2.5 minutes.
If you could do anything (outside of coffee), what would it be?
I’d be a football commentator.