Yet More Interesting Coffee Joints in Singapore
Previous posts on (specialty) coffee joints in Singapore:
- More Espressos, Lattes and Chemex Brews in Singapore
- It Must Be Raining Beans – Even More Specialty Coffee Joints in Singapore
While waiting for the rest to arrive at dinner, we were chatting about the necessity of describing the entire experience of eating or drinking in any critique or review of a food or beverage. In wine, for example, one should describe the colour, the aroma and bouquet, and then the whole taste process from when the wine first enters the mouth till it reaches the back of the palate and is swallowed. To describe just part of the process would be confusing to a third party, like only one of the blind men feeling up the proverbial elephant describing what that elephant looked like. Also, when critiquing a beverage, it would be remiss to exclude mention of the circumstances in which that beverage was consumed – wine would taste different at the beginning of the day before breakfast and at the end of the day when accompanied by a medium rare ribeye. When the others came, they chimed in that the external circumstances in which consumption took place also mattered – even if the kitchen sent out it most wonderful dishes, one’s experience would be spoilt if service was rude or shoddy.
i should be more aware of these things when setting out experiences hereabouts, but will probably be unable to fully enunciate the entirety thereof. It’s absolutely magnificent how much sensory pleasure we can derive from what should merely be just feeding and hydrating for survival.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:13-17,23-24)
So, we are fortunate to enjoy another wave of interesting coffee places, all with rather varied concepts and offering different experiences:
Brunetti Singapore aims the bring the Italian coffee culture, via Melbourne, to Singapore. It is a full-service cafe in a mall (01-35 Tanglin Mall), offering soups and Italian savouries like panini and pizza, a good range of Italian confections like cannoli, a gelateria section and coffee serviced by a 5-group La Cimbali. The coffee was roasted Italian-style – dark, so that there is some bitterness on the tongue at first, but this roast profile on the Santa Chiara house-blend was well-tempered by the smooth sweet milk. My cup was made by [Fabio?], who seemed to be running things behind the counter as well. The other barista on that shift was a Chinese lady. There were also two attentive Indian ladies (probably with interests in Gill Capital?) bustling about to ensure that tables were cleared and people were taken care of. Loads international school kids came by for gelato and cakes and macarons.
Current opening times:
Daily: 9am – 10pm
Pause (fb) at Dominic Khoo’s 28th Fevrier (5 Jalan Kilang) is a different creature. Set within Dominic Khoo’s white indescribable space in an industrial estate, Pause shares the site with designer Kevin Seah and bespoke shoemaker Edwin Neo of Ed Et El. Dominic Khoo’s photographs line the walls and the seating at the coffee area consists of Flexiblelove Chairs made from recycled paper.
Haryanto Soemito trained at Cuppachoice and he and the other barista were quite intent on getting the extraction just right. The safe well-attested house blend of Columbian, Kenyan and Sumatran beans was earthy and nutty in the piccolo latte, and though latte art etching isn’t known to be quite as suave as free pour latte art, the kawaii-ness was appreciated.
Current opening times:
Weekdays: 8am – 11pm
Saturdays: 10am onwards
Sundays: 1pm – 8pm
At Drips bakery cafe at #01-05, Block 82 Tiong Poh Road in Tiong Bahru Estate, due attention is given to the Graffeo coffee beans which are ground in a Mazzer and brewed on a Unic. The piccolo latte is the piccolo-est est i’ve seen, and in the small milk, the Italian-roast was slightly dry (stringent?) and a tiny bit smokey. Decent enough, but really, the pastries (made fresh daily) are where one’s energies should be focused – the excellent shortcrust tart shells were buttery and sweet (but not too) and shattered properly, and the strawberries were appropriately sweet in their way and not choked with gelatin glaze. Alfred Chan of Fredo Galaxy is apparently a co-owner. Fortunate is the congregation at St. Matthew’s Church on Eng Hoon Street.
Current opening times:
Monday – Thursday (closed on Tuesdays), Saturday and Sunday: 10.30am – 9.30pm
Friday: 10.30am – 11pm
Open Door Policy (19 Yong Siak Street, Yong Siak View, Tiong Bahru Estate) is a bistro rather than a coffee joint but its coffee deserves mention. The “specialty coffee bar” next to the restaurant bar is helmed by folk from Harry Grover’s 40 Hands Coffee (all part of Cynthia Chua’s Spa Espirit group) and the flat white i had was excellent – the house blend of Brazilian (base), Papa New Guinean and Bali Kintamani was roasted complex enough to taste like it teetered on the knife-edge of being a nasty cup but the barista had balanced it just right in the milk so there were hints of spice (cinnamon?) and chocolate as the cup cooled.
Toby’s Estate Coffee Asia at #01-03, 8 Rodyk Street, finally opened after much anticipation. We knew from his blog that Suhaimie Sukiman (formerly from Cuppachoice) would be there but the other baristas looked somewhat familiar… Colin Loh saved a lot of brain-racking (thanks!) – there’s Terence Tan from Joe & Dough (Suntec), Andy from Jewel Coffee, Nizam from Black. Seating is either at the lovely long communal table with coffee plant in the middle of the space, at bar seats facing the river or outside under large brollies. There is a large Loring roaster in one corner and a range of Hario products and Toby’s Estate tea cannisters facing the brew bar in another, and you cannot help but notice the gleaming elegant Mirage next to the cashier.
The flat white from the Rodyk Street Blend (Guatemala Antigua Los Volcanes and Indonesian Sumatra Long Berry) was excellent (to my shame i was preoccupied with a book and forget to remember the specifics of how it tasted) and the Guatemala cold brew was like a refreshing glass of floral smoky oolong. Next time, i’ll want to try the cold brew neat. Many return trips are being planned.