Caffeine Cravings

Caffeine Cravings

Are your eyelids heavy and palms sweaty from Mom's spaghetti? Sorry, wrong section. If your head's about to hit the desk from tremendous tiredness, here's some places to curb those caffeine crashes at.
Russell Leong
Russell Leong

Refuel II’s Iced Caramel Latte ($5.90 nett, $6.90 for the big ‘un) sounds delightful, but it just ain’t quite all it’s hyped up to be in real life.

Like the title suggests, it’s more milk than coffee, and it got pretty diluted at the end thanks to all that ice floating around in there, which sank the latte just like its bigger icy brethren did to the Titanic years earlier. Not sure why close to no cafés are doing the whole frozen coffee cubes idea instead of ice, but oh well.

On the bright side, the caramel flavour was pretty damn delightful. Plus, it managed to keep me awake at work till it was time for beer, so that’s definitely gotta count for something.

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While the search for a cuppa comparable to Aussie coffees still continues, Carrara ain’t half bad. The cappuccino is a little more bitter than usual, but it’s offset with a stronger cocoa scent and taste. Pretty creamy and tantalizingly thick in body too.

Not half bad as a posh(er) pick me up, really.

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To this day, all of Singapore’s self proclaimed top tier coffees have been a beautiful letdown. Good coffee? Probably. On the same level as Aussie coffees? Yeah, nah mate.

However, The Hangar is quite possibly the closest any café in sunny Singapore has come to brewing up a cuppa that could go toe to toe with astoundingly amazing Aussie coffee. Their cappuccino is lightly and delightfully toasty, mildly bitter, and has a luxuriously thick body and creamy mouthfeel.

It’s truly no mean feat to even come close to the standard of coffee down under, so congratulations are definitely in order to the Hangar for reliably pouring up beautiful brews for the last half decade or so.

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A depresso. Oh yes, that was quite the howler indeed! But trust me, coffee will turn depression into jubilation. I don’t quite know what it is about Australian coffee, but it is quite simply superior to many others. Could it be the milk? Or is it something in the water? I doubt we’ll ever find out, but in the meantime, I’m just going to down as many coffees as I can while I ponder upon the reason(s) why.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need some time alone with this stellar cuppa cappuccino.

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Young man, there’s no need to feel down. That’s what I said to myself when I took a hearty sip of The Village’s heavenly Viennese coffee.

Until this day, I still have absolutely no clue as to just exactly what makes the coffee served in every Australian café absolutely awesome, but all I really cared about as I held that comely cuppa coffee in my hands was getting another hit of that coffee.

The Village’s Viennese coffee is utterly mesmerizing. Smooth, roasty black coffee is made even better by the mountain of fresh whipped cream sitting atop.

This Village raised this kid just right with this magical cuppa.

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The last place you’d expect to find solid coffee that can rival even Australia’s legendary cuppas is in a hole in the wall in Tanjong Pagar Xchange right above Tanjong Pagar MRT, but that’s exactly what I found at The Caffeine Experience.

In the interest of full disclosure, my good friend from my army days is a (temporary) barista there, and he brewed up a selection of coffees for me to try after accepting my challenge that truly stellar coffees in Singaporean cafes were impossible to find.

This cup contains the wildest ride you’ll have this week: it’s a black pepper and honey latte. You heard that right. Black. Pepper. Honey. Latte. Now now, put down those pitchforks and torches first folks, let me explain the method behind his madness.

Honey binds well with black pepper, but that combo requires an extremely delicate balance of coffee and pepper. Not only that, but the beans used must have a very specific flavor profile. It took my pal a long time to figure it all out, but he finally did. The right amount of black pepper is added into the coffee grind, ground fresh from Costa Rican beans, and is then brewed up before the honey and milk foam are added.

The pepper contributes a nice, controlled spiciness into the fruity and acidic latte and tempers the acidity of the coffee rather suitably. The honey sweetens the latte better than any caramel syrup or raw sugar ever could, and serves to lift the body a little lighter than normal.

Needless to say, I was enjoying every single sip and second of this wild coffee ride.

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I swear, every single cuppa joe in Australia is absolutely brilliant.

But I like the Oily George’s dirty chai more. Seductively sweet, silky smooth, downright delicious, and guaranteed to wake you right up, it’s a chai worth getting dirty for.

Australia brews up some truly stunning coffees. Even chain bakeries pour up cappuccinos that would put some Singaporean hipster cafés to shame.

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While Newcastle ain’t as hot on the whole café scene as Melbourne or Sydney, they’ve got a respectable number of cafes round town brewing up some charming cuppas that you can’t resist.

This flat white from Maxi’s Caffe was roasty, slightly nutty and sensually smooth. It was pleasantly light in acidity, and the crema that shrouded the liquid gold within was thick and super satisfying.

Yes, yes, I quite adore this cuppa joe.

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Iced Sea Salt Caramel Mocha from Coffee Break! At just $3.80, it's a damn sight better than anything St*****ks brews up, despite being priced at just slightly over half the price. Unfortunately, the taste of sea salt caramel was almost totally muted, and I only managed to catch a few lingering wisps between sips.

However, that's unexpectedly good news, as it means that the excellent mocha is allowed to shine through! The coffee is mildly acidic but is highly chocolate-y, and maintains a perfect balance of bitter and sweet. The pleasant, heady aroma lifts off from within the cup to tantalize your olfactory sensors the minute you lift the lid off. It's fantastically full bodied and creamy with a thick, pleasant layer of crema sitting on top innocently.

To get a topnotch, nice cold cuppa like this for $3.80 at a hawker centre would've been utterly unthinkable just a decade ago, but thanks to the young brother-sister duo behind Coffee Break, the plebeians are able to enjoy decent coffee at decent prices.

#BurppleYoungHawkers

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Foxhole Café is also home to the Pourover Bar, which brews most of their coffee from the Ninetyplus beans. The coffee itself sits in the middle of the pack in terms of acidity, but the chocolate notes are bold and stronger than most, which really hit the spot for me. Also, their cappuccino isn't overly milky, and is velvety smooth as it slides down your throat with minimal fuss.

With good coffee paired with more than decent bakes such as their apple crumble with lychee lime sorbet, the Foxhole café certainly is a café worth keeping your eye on.

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Using an excellent, low acidity South American coffee bean, Grind Coffee has managed to avoid overpowering the ginger flavors in the coffee while still keeping the coveted caffeine kick of coffee intact. If normal coffee isn't gonna get you through the day, then the Afterburn is definitely gonna fire you up and boost you through till happy hour.

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