On The Hill Coffee Bar has opened a new branch located inside a block of the former Victoria Prison at Tai Kwun. Instead of traditional table seating, this coffee shop on the ground floor of E Hall has metal stools and benches inside old jail cells, where customers can sip on their coffee.

Patrons enter through a narrow hall with stark white interiors and can place their orders for coffee and the cake of the day with the staff, who also work out of a repurposed prison cell. The café has retained the cell bars, which are painted black, and each cell is interconnected so that visitors can walk through them.

on the hill tai kwun exterior and interior
On The Hill in Tai Kwun is in E Hall, which retains its narrow halls and prison bars (© On The Hill Coffee Bar via Instagram)

On The Hill’s signature caffeine offerings include their espresso-and-coconut milk concoction called the AmeriCOCO, and Thai Dirty — a mix of condensed milk, espresso, and milk poured so that the layers are distinct. The café will soon expand its menu to include bread and light snacks.

drinks at on the hill coffee bar tai kwun
Customers can drink the Thai Dirty or a latte inside the old jail cells (© The HK HUB and On The Hill Coffee Bar via Instagram)

E Hall is a three-storey building located in front of the old prison yard, next to the modern J Cube and adjacent to D Hall. It was completed in 1915 and its design is similar to that of Victoria Prison’s B Hall. The prison — along with the former Central Police Station and the Former Central Magistracy — is part of Tai Kwun’s 16-building complex that is among Hong Kong’s protected heritage buildings.

tai kwun prison yard
E Hall overlooks the Prison Yard and is next to JC Cube, and adjacent to D Hall (© Wpcpey via WikiCommons)

Tai Kwun also conducts guided tours of the complex premises in English, Cantonese and Putonghua, as well as a Hidden Spaces tour of locations in the complex that are usually off-limits to visitors.

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On The Hill has three other locations across Hong Kong — in North Point, Ngau Tau Kok, and Kwun Tong, the last of which opened in June this year. The coffee shop brand also had a branch in To Kwa Wan, which closed at the end of October.

Header image credits: The HK HUB

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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