The coffee at this cool hole-in-the-wall venture by Australian Harry Grover and the Spa Esprit Group has always been the main attraction, and they’re at least partly responsible for making Tiong Bahru one of the hippest neighborhoods around Singapore. But it’s not just the coffees that are worth the trip, the food’s good too. The sarnies, cakes and baos all make for great company with a flat white or a long black.
This place is run by designer Chad Samson and business partner David Ahier. On the menu are coffees like espresso ($3.50), Americano ($3.50) and iced coffee ($5.50). To go along with the drinks, order up pastries from The Bread Project such as pain au chocolate ($4) and apricot danish ($4.50). There’s also a food menu featuring toasties ($5) like mature cheddar and pickled asparagus, as well as mozzarella, red pepper and walnut pesto.
From the Papa Palheta folk comes this spot located in an Art Deco shophouse that’s retained its original hardware store decor with a 360-degree coffee bar, The Roastery and The Annex, where you can learn and sample more unusual beans. Try the bottled cold brew coffee, served with milk and syrup on the side for you to doctor to your taste.
Coffeesmith at Collyer Quay
Michael Ryan has kitted out this character-ful old barracks space next door to Mediapolis with the city’s first Slayer espresso machine (he helped build the $29,000 beast himself) and feeds it with a weekly rotation of high-end beans and blends including the proprietary Ironbark. “The Slayer allows you to play a fantastic song”, he says. “I don’t know what that song is yet, but I’m building the melody with the right ingredients.” Every shot is an obsessively calibrated double ristretto; and it’s probably the most intense pull you’ll find in the city.
Jewel Coffee in Shenton Way
A hip 4,000 sq. ft. café/fashion boutique around Arab Street, set up by a pair of husband-and-wife owners Thomas Ho/Janice Ong and Franz Chua/Shanie Teoh, that boasts Brazilian and Ethiopian beans roasted in-house on a weekly basis by baristas trained by Japanese celebrity barista Hiroshi Sawada. Aside from espresso-based cuppas, you can also expect brewing methods like pour over, French press, woodneck (for precision-brewed drip coffee) and syphon (vacuum technology first popularized in the mid-nineteenth century and now enjoying a resurgence).
Nylon Coffee Roasters
This place is a must for serious coffee lovers. Primarily a coffee roaster, this small joint is best for a quickie takeaway for a cup of joe ($2.50-$5.00) before you proceed to check out the rest of the area. Reminiscent of Papa Palheta and Chye Seng Huat (proprietors Lee Jia Min and Dennis Tang were former partners at the two joints), this is a quaint, scaled-down neighbourhood version specializing in sourcing and roasting beans from different origins.
Open Door Policy in Tiong Bahru
The establishment serves artisanal coffee (from $3.50) complete with latte art, as well as a decent selection of starters (from $6.90), Western mains such as prawn risotto ($18.90) and kurobuta pork collar ($23.90).
The folks behind The Plain and The Bravery bring you Ronin, a hidden gem along Hongkong Street. No signage, no email address, no phone number, just walk on in for your brunch and coffee fix. For the java, all choices are espresso-based and crafted from Genovese coffee beans imported from Melbourne. Special drinks include Wicked ($5.50), mint-infused mocha, and Matchatone ($5.50), Ronin’s take on the ever-popular green tea latte.
Toby’s Estate in Robertson Quay
This Aussie is located in a gorgeous old go-down on the Robertson waterfront and is home to a state-of-the art smokeless roaster, which spirals up toward the ceiling and draws admiring stares and pointed iPhones. The counter is split between a “fast” espresso bar, and a “slow” bar serving black coffee made with the likes of Chemex and Clover equipment, and staffed by what There’s also direct-sourced beans, coffee-making kit and appreciation classes on the horizon. Best of all? It’s open from 7am (with extended evening opening hours to come).
Yahava KoffeeWorks in Upper Thomson