Friends in Totes: Gary Au

Coffee is the lifeblood of many designers, and it’s not any different for us.

In Hong Kong, where we’re based, Urban Coffee Roaster is one of the finest independent coffee shops and roasters around. We first started hanging out at their coffee shop about 4 years ago, and met the friendly co-founder Gary Au, who is one of the most passionate purveyors of coffee out here.

Gary Au of Urban Coffee Roaster

Gary Au of Urban Coffee Roaster


Q: Hello! Can you quickly introduce yourself to us?

A: I am Gary, I run a coffee roastery and 3 coffee shops in Hong Kong. I’m a green coffee buyer, roaster and also a barista. I travel much more often these two years, visiting some coffee origins to source green coffee and also go to some cities to promote the brand and the coffee we roast.

Q: What does a day (weekday or weekend) in your life look like?

A: There isn’t too much of a difference between a weekday or a weekend for me. My schedule is usually pretty full, but I’m always super excited for my first cup of coffee of the day.

Gary is wearing  NOTCH bag in Black

Gary is wearing NOTCH bag in Black


Q: What are the items that follow you on a daily basis, or things you love to bring on your day off?

A: My money clip wallet, my iPhone SE (which I love so much due to its small size), a power bank, keys and sometimes with an umbrella.

Q: Coffee or tea? What is your go-to order?

A: Coffee! But more than 80% of the time I make my own coffee. I don’t have a go-to order, but I love trying new things, especially any signature drinks when I visit others coffee shops.


Q: What do you love most about the city you live in?

A: It used to be freedom and safety, however it seems like these are disappearing before our eyes, sadly.

Q: Introduce us to a cause/belief you care about, and why others should too.

A: Always be open-minded. Every belief or concept that is right, or even perfect at a moment in time may eventually become outdated.

Q: If there’s a young person who wants to enter your field of work, what advice would you give them?

A: Find a good mentor and learn from them. People often say I “learn how to run before I learn to walk”, but I find that I learn and achieve my goals much faster, so don’t be afraid to be yourself and pursue your dreams.

Q: Share with us one way you express yourself creatively?

A: Sometimes I will create signature drinks when I got really happy or moody moments, but none of them has made it to the menu of shops yet.


Q: When you are looking to buy green coffee, what qualities do you look for?

A: To me, the quality of the green coffee is the single most important factor that affects the quality of the final cup. I mostly focus on clean cup and sweetness when buying green coffee, and I look especially for good coffee from smaller producers, since I really hope we can work and grow together.

Q: If you had a free day all to yourself, where would you go?

A: I will ride my Vespa to the beach, get wet, get some tan and relax.


Q: Share with us an important lesson you learnt over the past few years.

A: Dare to make any decision. Dare to be different from others.

Q: What is the most attractive quality of a person?

A: Smile. Everyone can be super attractive and pretty when they’re smiling!


Q: Where do you get your daily inspirations?

A: I get inspired from reading blogs or Instagram stories by baristas from all over the world. That and my first cup of coffee of the day goes a long way!

Q: Finally, what's your favourite ice-cream flavour?

A: Vanilla! Whenever I’m trying a new ice cream brand, I always choose vanilla. It is the most basic and therefore the raw qualities really shine through, it is the best gauge whether an ice cream is good or not.


Editor’s note: We just want to thank Gary for taking the time out of his busy schedule to share with us about his passions, thoughts, and we greatly appreciate his efforts in posing for us :P

Gary is extremely friendly and passionate about coffee, and will frequent his shops whenever he has the time. So next time you visit one of his fine establishments and see him, feel free to say hi and ask him about coffee!

Urban Coffee Roaster


Facebook: Urban Coffee Roaster

Instagram: @UrbanCoffeeRoaster

Enoch HoComment