5 Top Singapore Coffee Shops
An artisanal coffee wave is underway in the Lion City. Here's where to drop in to get your own craft cuppas. BY LIANG XINYI
Occupying a brightly lit storefront in the Raffles Place CBD, Jewel Coffee has become a daily go-to for the area’s executives since it arrived on the scene last June. Former corporate banker turned café founder Adrian Khong clad the 84-square-meter space with raw concrete floor, blackboards bearing explanatory sketches and a blonde-wood counter crowned with a cherry-red COFFEE sign. Barista Shin Hao operates the small arsenal of high-end gadgetry—the manual La Marzocco Strada espresso machine and precision-brewing Marco Über Boiler—to deliver exquisite cups of joe like the Chemex (a light, filtered brew) and Gibraltar (a double-shot espresso with less milk). This joint stocks single-origin beans from locations such as Brazil’s Fazenda Samambaia, Sumatra’s Lintong and Columbia’s Huila. One Shenton Way, #01-07; +65 6636 9452; jewelcoffee.com.
Younger sister to cult roaster Papa Palheta, Loysel’s Toy—named after a 19th century Frenchman who invented the commercial espresso machine—is quirky but serious about its beans. Its obscure location—in a renovated warehouse, a 10-minute walk from the nearest MRT station—hasn’t deterred a loyal following of fans, ranging from iPhone-toting hipsters to moms with strollers, from arriving in droves for their caffeine fix. The high-ceilinged interior is appointed with a gleaming Synesso Cyncra espresso machine, an elegant gold-and-black roaster and paper bags stuffed with house-roasted beans for sale. Beside espresso drinks made from its signature Terra Firma blend, this store also offers filtered sets like Brewed Otherwise (single-origin coffee of the day brewed using siphon and French press) for the purists. To best enjoy the laid-back charm, sit in the leafy courtyard and order a yummy scrambled egg toast to go with your coffee. 66 Kampong Bugis, Ture, #01-01; +65 6292 2306; loyselstoy.com.
OPEN DOOR POLICY
A trio of Singapore’s food-and-wine stalwarts—Spa Esprit Group founder Cynthia Chua, Tippling Club’s chef Ryan Clift and 40 Hands’ owner Harry Grover—front this new addition to the increasingly hip quarter of Tiong Bahru. In the rustic-chic space, outfitted with exposed brick walls, mismatched steel chairs, teakwood-planked floors and a glassed-in show kitchen, the highlight is its Asian-European fusion fare (mushroom risotto with truffle crumbs; pork belly with braised quinoa), but what makes this buzzing bistro a cut above the rest is its specialty coffee bar—run by Grover and the skilled baristas at 40 Hands, just across the street, doing fresh brews from single-origin beans sourced mainly from a selected group of Australian roasters. Perch at the coffee bar and watch the barista work his magic to conjure up a Cold Drip—coffee brewed and chilled drop-by-drop over a 12-hour cycle—served in a Pyrex flask. 19 Yong Siak St.; +65 6221 9307; odpsingapore.com.
Inspired by Tokyo’s hybrid spaces, two style-savvy couples—Janice Ong and Thomas Song; Shanie Teoh and Franz Chua—set up this café cum fashion boutique last September, naming it after the Japanese manga animation Maison Ikkoku. This charming tri-level shop house packs a lot of style within its 370 square meters, ranging from whitewashed brick walls festooned with polished copper pipes and pre-loved wooden dressers to the collection of Japanese menswear labels. Head barista Muhammad Rizuan is often behind the Nuova Simonelli machine on the ground-floor café, crafting coffee embellished with intricate latte art. After 6 p.m., saunter up to the rooftop bar for another round of drinks—this time alcoholic—and soak in the views of the gold-domed Sultan Mosque next door. 20 Kandahar St.; +65 6294 0078; maison-ikkoku.net.
ORIOLE COFFEE ROASTERS
Thanks to owner Keith Loh, one of the city’s most respected baristas, this outpost has quickly become a favorite among the coffee-drinking set. This three-story shop house café offers a great merchandise lineup (siphon coffee makers, steam thermometers), in addition to an onsite roasting room and a "lab" facility for experimenting with different blends. While the focus is on craft drinks like piccolo latte and flat white, the café also pays homage to Singapore’s traditional kopitiam (coffee shop) culture with nostalgic bric-a-brac—1970’s Guinness glasses, tungsten light bulbs and porcelain tableware—and a snacks menu featuring local classics such as tau sar piah (mung bean pastry) and kaya (pandanus jam) toast. And not only does Oriole supply its locally roasted beans to other cafés, it also conducts training classes for baristas-to-be, so this is definitely the place for coffee enthusiasts to pick up tools of the trade—check out its Facebook page for the latest updates. 10/10A Jiak Chuan Rd.; +65 6224 9131; oriolecoffee.com.