Singapore’s coffee scene is a rapidly expanding one. With almost a new café opening each week, getting the best cuppa can be a perpetual quest for the bold and innovative brewers with the greatest brews. Check out our Top 5 spots to get your caffeine fix.
1. YA KUN KAYA TOAST, FAR EAST SQUARE
The authentic flagship kopitiam
If you are looking for the traditional kopi, head down to Singapore’s favorite kopitiam. Legions of Singaporeans remember the legendary taste of Ah Kun’s kopi and kaya toast. Having made its presence felt in Singaporean shopping centre and overseas, a visit to the flagship store is one unlike the usual Ya Kun jaunt.
Run by Ah Kun’s surviving family members, this flagship store where the entrepreneur first set up shop is the real deal.
Touristy kitsch and paraphernalia aside though, the kopi is rich, buttery, flavourful and nutty without the cloyingly sweet aftertaste. Eggs are done almost to perfection, runny and with a dash of soy sauce and pepper - your perfect morning protein fix.
And the toast - perfectly grilled over charcoal (non-electric affairs), is perfumed with aromatic hints of the traditional fire and crisp to an almost cracker-like texture. With a generous slather of kaya, and a dollop of butter to marry sweet and savoury into one unforgettable treat.
Drop in and be happy for the rest of the day.
2. THE PLAIN, 50 CRAIG ROAD
This café gives “plain” a new meaning. Plainly put, the simple menu of breakfast usuals and lunch sandwiches doesn’t impress much, but the café location behind Duxton Hill is the perfect place to spend an unhurried morning meal.
The Plain: plain and simple, simply good.
The coffee will cater more to those who are looking for a gentler, milder cup. Order an Americano to savour the mellow, nutty flavours for a morning pick-me-up. Pair it with the Breakfast Muesli - a combination of organic oats soaked in apple juice with yogurt, fruits and apple slices.
The pleasantly designed space, and friendly laid back service, makes the café as comfortable a morning breakfast table as your own kitchen.
3. NYLON COFFEE ROASTERS, BLK 5 EVERTON CLOSE
Once you have finally located this café-in-the-wall, (it is quite the elusive one) enjoy a perfect brew by one of Singapore’s new micro-roasters. About the size of a heartland bubble tea stall, NYLON is definitely for the coffee connoisseur.
The couple who run the outfit, hunt down specific co-operatives in Latin America and Africa to bring to you the best brew on Earth they can find. Knowledgeable and always ready for expert advice, NYLON is the place to bring your ultimate coffee addict out for a great sensory excursion. The menu is limited, though we recommend you surprise yourself with an Iced Brew of the Day.
One can expect a clear, light-bodied brew. The fruitiness and wine-like notes cut through the ice and leave no discernible aftertaste. The clean refreshing feeling is unlike any other and a perfect accompaniment to a sunny day.
4. STRANGER’S REUNION, 37 KAMPONG BAHRU ROAD
Magic: in a cup
For those who only demand the best in everything, be assured that the coffee in this joint, is just that. Run by two of Singapore’s finest baristas, Stranger’s Reunion is part of a new wave of new indie coffee houses that have sprouted across the island. And it sure is making waves.
Clearly distinct here is the Melbournian influences on the coffee line-up. Bold, robust and espresso forward is the philosophy and one that is deftly translated by expert hands.
Order a Magic and be amazed. Basically a double ristretto (sweetest part of an espresso shot) with a precise addition of milk, the beverage is a bold mix of milk and coffee at just the right proportion. The roast, and inherent flavours from the ristretto are coupled with velvety smooth milk that glides straight down and transports you to some place magical.
The chic cozy décor, attentive, prompt service, and superior coffee makes this the place to be in for a weekend after-lunch retreat.
5. MAISON IKKOKU, 30 KANDAHAR STREET
This café/bar/boutique is a cut above the rest. If you only have a few hours to spare in the city, and want to sample the very best artisanal coffees, head nowhere else but here.
Trained by the Japanese celebrity barista Hiroshi Sawada, the outlet offers a variety of coffee brewing methods and expertly puts together beverages that are pleasing to all the senses.
Order a Cold Drip and get ready to be blown away. The intense, full fruitiness of the Iced Brew comes alive on your palate as the refreshing clean flavours belie an underlying note of awesomeness. It’s that good!
The cappuccino is perfectly made to the right proportion of milk foam and espresso, and the vanilla latte is the perfect intersection between syrup, espresso and milk, steamed to perfection, far away from the Orchard Road predictability.
The space is designed beautifully and stepping in from the busy hubbub of Kampong Glam, you can almost imagine you are far away, in a corner of coffee paradise.
By Norafiq Ismail