Coffee, Tea or Me?

Coffee, Tea or Me?

The list that contains the undeniable love of coffee, tea and other beverages.
Xing Wei Chua
Xing Wei Chua

Had been following the social media accounts of Alchemist for quite a while and found out about their latest digs at The Mill — an industrial building hidden within Jalan Kilang just slightly off Jalan Bukit Merah opposite ABC Brickworks Food Centre with a distinct gothic style that is designed by the same folks behind Parkview Square; the “Gotham City” building in Bugis.

Thought the Khong Guan Industrial Building outlet took the cake for me but their latest outpost at The Mill is another level of “wow” — tucked away at the second level of the building, the dark theme strays away from that of other earlier Alchemist stores which generally adopts a white, industrial style. The black walls, grand chandeliers, and brown leather sofas matched well with the general architecture of the building inside-out — especially liked the window seats which gives a sense of privacy and intimacy, being partitioned off from both sides. Gave their canned cold brews a try — something which I have had wanted to try for quite a while; between the two, “A Typical Mocha” would probably go well with the chocolate lovers with its more predictable, smooth and creamy, chocolatey notes that felt somewhat more of a chocolate beverage than a coffee-based drink, while the Fruitti Pebbles was an interesting white coffee with floral and fruity notes that was surprisingly profound.

Must say I am awed by how Alchemist has come this far — whilst starting off as a takeaway kiosk at International Plaza, Alchemist has become more than just a spot for coffee with each new outlet seemingly carrying a unique theme; even more of a design marvel of its own. Congratulations to the folks behind Alchemist on their latest opening; can’t wait to see what else they have up on their sleeve next!

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Visiting The Bread Rack while they are still in their soft opening stage, The Bread Rack is a new bakery which has recently opened their doors at [email protected] — the building along Yio Chu Kang Road also houses an outlet of the Soi19 Thai Wanton Mee, and is also situated opposite Urban Table at ICB Shopping Centre which is just across the road.

Being in soft launch mode, The Bread Rack was serving a limited menu with four types of different loaves and four different danishes available — found myself going for the Almond Croissant which was flaky and buttery with distinct layers in between from the lamination process of making the pastry. The frangipane was also nutty and not too moist; also adequately sweet without being too dominant in flavour and definitely allowed the buttery notes of the croissant to pull through — a pretty good rendition of the almond croissant overall that I actually would see myself having again. The White is also well-pulled here; the cuppa being smooth and creamy with an earthy flavour profile and a medium body — works both as a comforting mid-day cuppa and a morning perk-me-up. The accompanying chocolate chip cookies were also pretty delicious — not too dense and crunchy, yet coming with a melty chocolate chip in the middle for flavour.

It may be early days for The Bread Rack, but I do see some potential in the items that they serve that they will be pretty much a favourite for those residing in the area especially — simple, well-executed danishes tucked away from the buzzy neighbourhood centre alongside well-pulled coffee with loaves to takeaway and enjoy in the comfort of your home. What more can I ask for?

Pretty stoked that there is a new spot for specialty coffee around Ang Mo Kio Central — a rather accessible spot for most given how most other cafes within Ang Mo Kio are well hidden within the neighbourhoods (i.e. AMPM Cafe, The Workbench Bistro etc.). Being a hole-in-the-wall cafe, Brew & Co seems to be a spot catered more towards the takeaway crowds with just a single bench seat in the store itself, and another bench and a two-seater table situated outside. Brew & Co mainly specialises in specialty coffee, so expect the usuals such as Espresso, White, Black & Mocha, as well as specials such as the Dirty Matcha and Orange Espresso alongside other beverages such as tea and chocolate. Pastries available includes croissants, scones, and bagels — just to name a few.

The Raisin Scone comes across as a pretty decent light bite for breakfast, especially after being heated up before being passed to the patron — the scone comes crusty on the outside with plenty of nibs of raisins to chew on; the scone also being sufficiently soft and not particularly dry, served with a pack of Smucker’s Strawberry Sauce that helps to give the scone a bit more moisture and a slight tang. The Orange Espresso is everything that I would have expected — the version here comes with punchy espresso with an earthy body, yet the infusion of orange here gives it a brighter flavour that also gives it a clean finish.

Given the way that Brew & Co is set up, it does work well as a convenient spot for residents around the area to pick up their cuppa before heading to the bus interchange or MRT station to make their commute. Otherwise, it’s a spot that works fine for a leisurely cuppa in the morning especially with the outside seating, which is well-sheltered being within the HDB block itself. With quality cuppa and comforting light bites, Brew & Co is a spot that Ang Mo Kio residents will be glad to have in their neighbourhood, and also somewhere cafe-goers who are into coffee should certainly visit.

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Located at 22 Havelock Road, Shuttl.96 is a new takeaway specialty coffee store which is located at the same HDB block where now-defunct establishments such as The Tastemaker Store and Dessert Project were formerly located — being more of a takeaway kiosk with limited standing areas for dine-in, Shuttl.96 does serve up the usual beverages that one will find in a cafe serving up specialty coffee; expect options such as Long Black, Latte, Flat White etc., alongside specialty beverages which include their Shuttl.96 Special Cold Brew, Rose Milk Tea and Lemongrass Mint amidst other options. Food options are limited to Croissant, Sausage Bun, Chocolate Bun and Gelato here.

Using a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans, the Shuttl.96 Special Cold Brew here carries a more robust body than most other cold brews served at other establishments — stronger and punchier with its chocolatey and caramel-y flavour profile whilst being just aptly sweetened. Whilst I didn’t try the Rose Milk Tea in the background, a friend commented that it lacks a floral note, though does work well as a milk tea option.

Given the setup, Shuttl.96 does give the residents around the area an interesting choice for takeaway specialty coffee; liked how the Chocolate Bun is retailed in a bag here — reminds us of bread from local bakeries that is sold in a bundle that seemingly works well with the demographics here. While those who prefer dine-in may probably find other options such as Starter Lab and Pullman Bakery a more suitable spot to visit, Shuttl.96 does seem to resonate better for those who are looking for something on the go or to have at home.

Checked out the new Main Street Commissary at Rowell Road — a new cafe which serves up specialty coffee and simple sandwiches, pastries and cakes to go alongside.

The space is decked out pretty simply but with style — minimalist with the use of white walls, concrete flooring and wooden furniture and wooden accents for its wall panelling; especially like how they have a small “porch” area that seems to work as a standing bar as well; a pretty warm and welcoming sight as one approaches the cafe before opening the door. While the pastries and cakes are pretty typical, the Flat White was pretty well-pulled — a smooth, creamy cuppa with a medium body with a fruity flavour profile and a clean finish.

Given how the cafe is in the proximity of other establishments such as Sum Dim Sum, Swee Choon Dim Sum Restaurant and Jalan Berseh Food Centre, Main Street Commissary is a great spot for a leisurely cuppa after a meal at the various other establishments around it, all in a serene space that one could just immerse themselves in with a book, or just simply work from.

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Checked out the new Sowl Coffee at Woods Square — pretty much a godsend for folks in the Woodlands area because of the sheer lack of specialty cafe options in the area offering espresso-based coffee and pastries.

Opted for the Pain au Chocolat which was pretty decent overall — flaky and buttery with melted chocolate in between; something which works well for a good light bite with a cuppa on the side. Flat White is brewed from beans roasted by Six Four Coffee for now — a blend of beans of Colombian and Brazilian origin; carried an earthy note with a light body which is good for a slow mid-day cuppa.

For the longest time, there seems to be a void when it comes to specialty coffee places in the North — the lack of cafes in this part of the island serving up decent espresso-based coffee have pretty much gotten us used to travelling out to other areas for the cafe experience. Sowl Coffee fills up this gap perfectly; despite the lack of hot food being served due to the space it occupies, it is a pretty deserving spot for a neighbourhood that has a lack of choices — somewhere which residents in the North and the office crowd of Woods Square would certainly appreciate having in their backyard!

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Spent my Christmas Eve afternoon with a cup of coffee at this new spot at 111 Somerset; a space that is tucked away at the back of the mall that I did not even knew that it existed — located just beside the entry/exit to the mall where So Good Hong Kong Char Chaan Teng is located.

Being predominantly a shop that caters to skaters retailing skateboard and related peripherals (a pretty apt location given it being beside the skate park at Somerset MRT Station), Halfpipe Skate Bar also serves as a small hangout (limited to two tables and a bar counter that seats five) which serves coffee and a rather wide variety of craft beers in the display chiller.

The Flat White was actually surprisingly well-pulled — smooth, creamy with a medium body and a roasty and earthy flavour profile, which came pretty unexpected from a place where coffee seems more to be their side gig.

Always pretty excited about having new options at Tekka Market considering how its always a spot which we will end up going for lunch whilst being back to the office.

A simple cup of Kopi as it seems, but Generation Coffee is all about serving up a cup of tradition with modern techniques — using a special blend of Robusta and Arabica beans, the Nanyang Kopi series here brings Nanyang Kopi with a touch of modernity brought by the third wave coffee movement to bring a robust cuppa that carries a roasty, earthy note with a punchy body typical of the Kopi we are used to having at the local coffee shops. The Nanyang Kopi here is being pulled the same way as their espresso-based coffee — through the espresso machine (similar to Kopi More from Golden Mile Food Centre and Lim’s Cafe at Chinatown Complex Food Centre), resulting in a smoother, silkier cuppa than the typical Kopi.

With their Nanyang Kopi commanding a price tag that starts from $1.40 for Kopi-O and their Long Black and Flat White at $2.80 and $3.20 for the hot variant respectively, Generation Coffee is likely a spot that is going to attract crowds for their modern iteration of Nanyang Kopi or affordable espresso-based coffees alike. Given how hawker stalls at Tekka Centre are pretty much old-school, its amazing how Generation Coffee attempts to break the mould here — pretty certain that I will be back again on days that I am having lunch here!

Christmas-themed bottled drinks are not an entirely new concept; Old Hen Coffee Bar/Kitchen had always been known to offer their Peppermint Cocoa beverage during the festive season. That being said, it’s still pretty much something which I am glad to have more options of — The Cool Santa Brew is Berthold Delikatessen’s Christmas special, with other variants of Slow Brew Coffee such as Black & White (Coffee with Milk and Sugar Syrup), Shot in the Dark (Coffee), Ready to Matcha (Coffee with Matcha, Milk and Sugar Syrup) and Veni Vidi Vivo (Coffee with Toffee Cream) being available on the usual menu.

Coming with a miniature Santa hat over the top for that extra festive mood, The Cool Santa Brew features the same slow brewed coffee featuring 100% single estate Arabica coffee from Costa Rica, infused with orange and cinnamon which sounds pretty Christmas-y. Felt that the notes of orange was a tad overwhelming — the beverage barely tasting of the bitter undertones of black coffee; not quite my sort of thing. Still; looking forward to give the Veni Vidi Vivo a try the next time!

Being one of the few tenants which have moved into the revamped Change Alley Mall at Raffles Place, Tanamera Coffee, which hails from Indonesia, has just opened their very first outlet in Singapore. The specialty coffee store serves up espresso-based coffee, as well as cold brew alongside some grab-and-go sandwiches stored in their display chiller, with pastries and cakes.

Being one of the cold brews available here, the Cold White is essentially their variant of the white cold brew here. Felt that the one served here comes with a rather balanced sweetness with the nutty notes of the coffee, though it seems a tad watered down and lacks that richness, smoothness and creaminess of the ones which other locally born-and-bred brands offer.

Visited the new Shift Coffee Concepts, which had recently opened its doors just two weeks before the start of the Circuit Breaker at Southbank just a short distance away from Lavender MRT Station and also run by the same folks behind Upside Down Coffee Alternatives.

While specialty coffee brewed from an espresso machine is available here, the highlight at Shift Coffee Concepts will be their Syphon Brews, which features beans of various origins carrying varying different flavour profiles.

Was recommended the La Promesa, which originated from Colombia; quite surprised how this supposedly fruity coffee comes with a punchy body for a full-on flavour, yet with a clean finish — a difference from the usual hand-brewed coffees that feature a fruity profile which are typically lighter in its flavour profile. Also liked how the space is clean in its design language and situated at a location less-travelled by most — certainly a spot that works out for a quiet morning cuppa!

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Dropped by this new spot named Venture Drive Coffee situated within Vision Exchange; a building just a stone’s throw away from Jurong East MRT Station that roasts their very own coffee beans. Just a simple space serving specialty coffee, tea and chocolate — the Flat White is pretty smooth and creamy, with a medium body and a earthy and roasty flavour profile. Thought it would be nice if they could offer some pastries for a light bite — still a great hidden gem for office workers within the area and compound.

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Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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