The inexorable rise of Elephant Grounds continues with the launch of its flagship store on Hollywood Road.
Few local success stories in recent times can match the kinetic evolution and development of Elephant Grounds, which started life in 2013 as a small coffee counter at the back of a lifestyle store on rapidly gentrifying Gough Street – and which felt more like a fanatical scientist's lab than a conventional caffeine house.
Its rise since has been remarkable. Lifestyle entrepreneur Kevin Poon and restaurateur Gerald Li have percolated a formula for success which has seen the zeitgeistful brand, with its "coffee and chill" mantra, establish six retail outlets in Hong Kong, and across four other cities in Asia including Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Manila.
It's also about more than just the coffee. The opening of its new 7,000 square foot Elephant Grounds Roastery flagship store on Hollywood Road sees the launch of the brand's first retail bakery, helmed by executive pastry chef Eane Wong, formerly of L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Hong Kong; she also worked on secondment with the Tokyo bakery Tysons & Company No. 4. Such pedigree and knowledge allows Wong to source the finest flours from Yokohama alongside silky, complex and aromatic French butter from Normandy to conjure her artisanal viennoiseries, including the pistachio cruffin and the banoffee croissant.
Elephant Grounds sources coffee from farms or farmers who are trusted to produce the best-quality beans and roasts in small batches, allowing for greater levels of control, and thus ensuring consistency and freshness. Starting this month, the company will introduce a monthly coffee subscription programme, in which customers can try a diversity of single-origin coffees and have seasonal blends delivered to their front doors. Elephant Grounds' mobile app is also available with the addition of the new bakery, allowing users to pre-order croissants, cruffins and other baked goods in advance.
At the new flagship store, aesthetics are high-key in keeping with Poon and Li's ambition to create an "urban oasis" for the new normal of working away from the office. "We had an opportunity to build a new focal point for this area," says Poon. "It was important to cater to the lifestyles of the people in the neighbourhood."
Much of which he has helped create. Poon stylises the interior of his coffee emporia with sought-after collectibles and artworks from his private collection, along with hand-painted and crafted 3D signage, handcrafted furniture, custom moss walls and live plants. It's that extra shot of panache that defines Elephant Grounds – a full-fledged lifestyle laboratory.