Saturday, May 5, 2012

coffee roundup, may 2012

Just an update, here's my May 2012 list of best coffee places in Singapore. Note that the list normally changes from time to time just as my taste preferences [and the quality of the baristas] change. Here goes:
[Note: the list changes from time to time - I will post a new update in August 2012].

New update: I have amended a couple of things, plus I have put in some "taste notes" i.e. to see what you can expect (as of May 2012) in their coffees.

Stranger's Reunion - by Ryan Tan, barista champion 2011 and 2012, located at Kampong Bahru Road. A new blend is in the works which should prove delicious, if Ryan's good tastes are anything to go by. the milk is always spot on, with incredible microfoam to create a smooth velvety mouthfeel. must order is the "magic", which is a double ristretto with milk. his 'magic' made from the terra firma blend was simply amazing.
Taste Notes: Ryan's "stranger's" blend is interesting, flavourful - bright and lively; the Terra Firma is what it usually is - darker and with a nutty taste.

Nylon Coffee Roasters - new outlet by Dennis & Jiamin. Small outlet, not much seating, more for takeaways. The El Primero blend is excellent - toffee, candy sweetness, dark chocolate aftertaste, long finish.
Taste Notes: see above.

Smitten Coffee - by Darren and Hong Yuan, slightly fruity coffees [on the light side] and delicious desserts. Serves plain vanilla cupcakes here. good if you like fruity, lively coffees.
Taste Notes: The thumper has notes of grapefruit and roasted nuts; the coffees tend to be fruitier and brighter. 

Jewel Coffee - single origin beans, but always done very well. expert baristaing, giving a robust cup that captures the tasting notes of what the coffee "should" taste like.
Taste Notes: depends on the beans that they use; the ethiopian sidamo is very lemony; colombia has alot of chocolatey notes; try the antigua if they have that.

Liberty Coffee - only open sometimes. excellent coffee, very bold and chocolatey. if you see pauline's chocolate cake on the counter, do order it. it is the bomb. 
Taste Notes: The Speakeasy blend is very chocolatey and rich. 

Toby's Estate - bumping it back to its 'top tier' status. Very good when the good beans are in, namely the COE (cup of excellence) coffees. when you are drinking the cup of excellence coffees, they are as good as the best in Singapore. Also of note are the speciality coffees apart from the COE, such as the Yirgacheffe Peaberry which tastes spicy, winey, of roasted nuts and cumin, and sweet. Sadly they don't always have COE or these special beans, which means that you're stuck with the normal coffees. the Rodyk blend is not bad, chocolatey, usual stuff. pretty safe. 
Taste Notes: The Rodyk blend is usually chocolatey and nutty; of interest is the COE coffees when they become available.


Sarnies - at telok ayer street, one of my regular joints for coffee. very good service, and competent baristas. pav makes an excellent cup of coffee and he is into roasting now, which means you're in for some treats. had an excellent yemen there, a great peru, and so on. when the house blend of costa rica and ethiopian is at its best [i.e. just the right amount of days from roasting], it is exquisite and excellent and goes with milk perfectly. sadly, as the house blend usually comes in 2 week cycles, it is not often as fresh as we would like it to be, hence the 'middle tier' rating. 
Taste Notes: The house blend which is a blend of Costa Rica and Ethiopian Yirgacheffe is excellent when in form - sweet, smooth, chocolatey and nutty with enough acidity to keep things lively.

40 Hands - used to be under 'room for improvement' but a recent experience has pushed it up. always get Harry to make the coffee because when he does it it's excellent. otherwise, it may be extremely bitter and you'll regret it. very very good brunch, though. 
Taste Notes: varies depending on the bean. make sure that they don't over-extract your coffee lest it becomes bitter.

Loysel's Toy / Papa Palheta - once top tier, but now very inconsistent due to the quality of the baristas, as it has expanded greatly. always look for a good barista [i.e. sean, perhaps] to make the coffee. if not, as i've experienced, you'll get quite bitter and overextracted coffee, or else, badly done milk. papa palheta was one of the founders of great coffee in singapore and is a household name in the coffee industry. 
Taste Notes: terra firma is dark, nutty, as mentioned.

Oriole Coffee Roasters - very dedicated roasters serving delicious coffee, usually farm direct. i don't go there enough because the 'feel' of the place is somewhat lacking - the vibe, and all, the service, isn't that 'warm', perhaps because i'm not a regular there. maybe i should go there more often, but as of now, still good. go to the jiak chuan road outlet and not the others. the republic plaza outlet is a fail. 
Taste Notes: the seasonal espresso blend is not bad - quite bright.

The Plain - very very good brunch, i.e. poached eggs and all. the coffee is of the dark kind, i.e. dark roast italian style, so only if you like those kinds of coffee.
Taste Notes: Dark, dark , dark.

Maison Ikkoku - very nice joint at Kandahar Street, with many kinds of coffee and a passion for it. good, rich, coffee, a bit too bitter, but good. They have recently upgraded so it's time for me to go down and check it out again.


Highlander Coffee - used to be the creme de la creme, but sadly overtaken by other more innovative and newer joints. their coffee is very safe, but frankly isn't much to shout about. Note: The barista, Guoli (a friend of mine), is a class act, however - everything done very well including the milk. Just that, unfortunately, he hasn't got that much to work with. 

Artichoke - coffee here is a fail. don't order it.

Spruce - ditto. fail coffee.

Bronte - it's an ok cup. don't expect fireworks.

Orange Thimble - wasn't very impressed with the coffee here. okay only.

Selfish gene cafe - using highlander beans, so don't expect that much.

Jimmy Monkey Cafe and Bar - they really need to improve their roasting, as it is really quite bitter and has unpleasant notes. i'm just not sure what's wrong with it...if they could tweak it, it would be good.


ice said...

Have you tried the newest Nylon Coffee Coasters Dennis @ Everton Park? :P It's opened by the couple formerly from Papa Palheta/Loysel's Toy.

ceadsearc said...

yeah dennis's place right. haven't, am meaning to check it out soon.

ice said...

Great roundup. One coffee-noob (me) question. How is coffee best appreciated? As an espresso or a milk-based coffee (piccolo/latte/cappuccino)? I notice at most coffee places you tend to order cappuccinos or lattes.

Jessie said...

Hello! Nice blog. I like lists. I shall scrupulously make my way through it. :)