Coffee Culture: The Elixir of Life
Elixir moved from Causeway Bays' Haven Street, to Sheung Wan's Mee Lun Street in Jun 2019. Causeway Bay's loss is so Sheung Wan's gain!
Working in PR and Events, Rity Wong quit her job in 2016, unsure what she wanted to do next. She loved drinking coffee and visiting cafes and wondered if she might like to have a cafe-or, was it just a pipe dream, or a passing fancy? Rity spent the next year working in cafes, gaining experience, and learning all about the coffee industry—and the dream came to fruition; elixir was born in Causeway Bay in 2017. It very quickly had a cult following.
elixir shared a space with a clothing brand at Haven Street, Causeway Bay, and after 2 years, Rity felt it was time to find a bigger space. Looking for a new elixir location, Rity knew she wanted somewhere with an outdoor area in a nice neighbourhood that wasn't too busy where customers could relax, kick back, and enjoy their coffee in peace. The community around Mee Lun Street is really friendly, and Rity felt it was perfect for the new elixir — a little piece of tranquility, away from the bustling streets.
To inject some new energy, Rity brought in four partners before moving to Sheung Wan in June 2019, Calvin, Mitch, Vanessa, and Nigel.
Calvin, is in hospitality, and was a customer who became a great friend, Vanessa, is a freelance designer and photographer while Nigel works in the Customer Service industry. Mitch was born in Hong Kong and moved to Sydney as a child. She was educated and worked as a food hospitality photographer before returning to Hong Kong and joining the team. They are all valuable and bring new life and ideas to elixir.
The design is all in-house; the team did not hire an interior company - they knew what they wanted, an open space in cool shades of marble and granite. That's versatile, where they can easily change the setting and the mood, depending on the use. Therefore all the small coffee tables are movable. There is a large communal table at the back, which is perfect for events and workshops. The only slight downside was the low ceiling height. White opens it up and makes it feel more spacious while creating a blank canvas for exhibitions, and events, so as customers can create their own vibe.
Its evident elixir cares deeply about the quality they bring to their customer. "When I first started elixir, I couldn't find any nice espresso cups in town, eventually I found a potter - Belinda Tee, in Sydney to create a set of porcelain espresso cups for elixir. The coffee cups are made by another artist - Kirstie Van Noort, whose colour palette is inspired by a field trip to Cornwall in the UK. They are all hand-made to give something more than just a coffee cup," Rity explains.
Charlie [the cat] joined the team in May 2020 when he was 3 months old. "We adopted him, and now he is truly one of our teammates. He is very chatty and friendly with people, and our customers love him! Mitch and I get to take him home at night," Rity says. "Our motto is "cure everything" we want our customers to feel calm and comfortable and for their problems and stresses to melt away. To think of elixir as a home from home, and that they are part of the family; we try to remember our regular's favourite choice. We want them to take away good memories."
The house blend espresso-based coffee is from a local roaster "Urban Coffee Roaster", the company where Rity began her coffee journey. They visit farms in different countries to source the beans. "With this long-term partnership, I can guarantee the coffee quality and always bring our customers a good coffee experience. We also serve Single-origin coffee for filter and espresso from La Cabra, lightly roasted coffee from Denmark," she says.
"Our most common feedback from guests is that we serve good coffee. I am so happy they enjoy and appreciate what we offer them; their satisfaction is priceless. elixir's most popular drink is our Cold Brew; it's strong but so smooth that it's easy to finish it in one go! And the Osmanthus infused tonic with cold brew comes a close second with its unique combination of bittersweet flavours. The sweetness from the Osmanthus is light and natural."
Apart from coffee, they serve tea, fresh juice, and chocolate. For non-coffee drinkers, the homemade Earl Grey Tonic is really refreshing. "Our customers also love trying single-origin coffee. Beans from different countries and farms have different flavours. Some are nutty and sweet, while some are very citrusy, and coffee lovers can discover their favourite by trying more and more single-origin coffee. Increasingly we see customers are looking for non-dairy milk, so we offer Almond, Soy, and Macadamia by Milklab," Rity tells me. We also offer pastries baked in-house, and our customers especially love our scones. We don't serve all-day breakfast or sandwiches. We want to keep our customers' taste buds clean to better taste the coffee, and we only serve bake goods that we feel go well with our coffee."
"COVID means adapting every day, being flexible to accommodate changing social distancing regulations." Like many, they have been through the ups and downs, "it's not easy for everyone. We just try our best. We always keep our shop clean and tidy. We use a pet-friendly disinfectant cleaner by "simplyclean" to keep our furry friends happy."
elixir has been sourcing products that customers can use to brew at home, including their Cold Brew Bag of their signature cold brew. You simply need to add 500ml water to the bag, refrigerate for 12 hours. Ta-da! You can pour the cold brew mixture the next morning!
IMAGE CREDIT: ACID+
This article first appeared online, on Home Journal's website, on September 29, 2020.