When I think of coffee culture I think of Melbourne, Italy, and New York; Asia is far from my mind. This thought is changing after spending a week drinking coffee in Singapore, where the countries coffee scene is experiencing a surge, and they results are pretty damn good.
Until a few years ago, Singapore’s coffee drinkers had relatively limited options apart from coffee chains or the local Kopi. Today, speciality coffee is one of the ‘in‘ trends, a movement led by Perth-born Harry Grover who was, in part, inspired by the Australian indie coffee scene.
Grover’s flagship cafe in Singapore’s Tiong Bahru, Forty Hands, has rapidly grown since it’s opening in October 2010 and is now considered a must visit for coffee enthusiasts. With a focus on quality and sustainable beans, the team source their beans from Five Senses Coffee, an Australian speciality roaster who provide beans to some of Australia’s top-rated cafes.
When asked Grover about the secret to the success, he spoke of quality, but also how it was Australia which has influenced many Singaporeans. After studying in Australia, students return home and seek out the same quality product they grew used to. Singapore is also home to a large expat scene.
Since the opening of Forty Hands, there has been a wave of growth in the speciality coffee scene in Singapore. Even the Aussie favourite, the flat white, has found a home here.
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I started my Singapore coffee experience at Common Man Coffee Roasters located near Robertson Quay.
The cafe, Harry Grover’s third cafe in Singapore, is named as such to pay tribute to the growers and drinkers of coffee – the common man. It is also about making coffee more accessible to the common man, with coffee education courses for baristas and coffee appreciation classes for the public.
Weekends are peak periods so I visited early on a weekday morning when the cafe was dotted with people lingering after the morning rush. Ordering my standard latte, I found it had a familiar taste of the Five Senses Beans leaving their slightly bitter taste on my palate.
The cafes carefully crafted menu is regularly updated and is made using quality goods, but it’s the all-day breakfast menu that had me excited.
I tried the Turkish Common Man Breakfast which I first saw another diner tucking into. Nestled delicately as the centre of the dish is the Phyllo-wrapped soft-boiled organic egg surrounded by crispy feta, fresh cucumber and tomato slices, olives, hummus and pita bread.
The prices are a little on the high side for Singapore, with their famed Organic Eggs Benedict costing ($24). It was the Turkish Common Man Breakfast ($25) that caught my eye. Coffees run at between SGD$4.50 – $6, pending on blends.
Common Man Coffee Roasters
22 Martin Road #01-00, Singapore 239058
A little off the usual track, Coast and Company is where coffee and bicycles meet. Combining Coast Cycles store upstairs and a repair centre in the rear of the cafe, this cafe, nestled in Kembangan’s residential area, is a respite from Singapore’s bustle.
Fitted out simply with an industrial chic vibe, and keeping in fit with their laid back vibe, the cafe offers a simple menu of classics – eggs with toast & suasages, toast, croissants, salads, and sweet treats. My favourite was the Almond Peanut Butter Toast which was lightly toasted brioche topped with peanut butter, almond flakes and honey (SGD$7) – YUM!
While the brioche was great, the magic was in their latte. Using coffee is provided by Papa Palheta, a speciality coffee company based in Singapore and Malaysia, the latte was full-bodied but smooth, and hitting all the right notes. In fact, I’m going to call it and say it’s among my top 5 favourite coffees I’ve had, ever!
While a rather curious partnership between cafe and homegrown bicycle store, it works. It’s focus seems to be providing a practical service to the surrounding neighbourhood while appealing to everyone, especially the hungry Singaporeans!
Coast and Company
54 Siglap Dr, Singapore 456176
Five cafes to check out for the best coffee in Singapore
- Common Man Coffee Roasters – One of the founders of Singapore’s coffee revolution, Common Man Coffee Roasters offers a cool industrial vibe and fantastic coffee. It’s more than just coffee; be sure to stop by for brunch as they have creative dishes that are beautifully presented.
- Coast & Company – Best coffee in Singapore! – Combining a cool warehouse style cafe and bicycle store & repair centre, Coast & Company is well worth the trip out of the city to try their coffee and their delicious brioche topped with almond butter and honey. Yum!
- Spruce at Phoenix Park – Something of an expat hangout, and incredibly popular with families, Spruce at Phoenix Park offers big tasty American-style breakfasts in a cool jungle oasis.
- Good Morning Nanyang Cafe – A chain of coffee houses across Singapore, Good Morning Nanyang Cafe offers traditional-styled kopi and local treats, like kaya on toast!
- Forty Hands – They say the process of growing and creating the perfect cup of coffee sees the beans go through forty pairs of hands, and I’m sure any bean would be happy to find itself in this charming artisan cafe, with delicious bakery on-site.
Check out this list of Singaporean Coffee spots from other bloggers!
- ‘The Best Coffee in Singapore‘ on Singapore Foodie
- ‘The best 10 places for coffee in Singapore‘ on City Nomads
- ‘Best Coffee Cafes in Singapore: The Ultimate Guide‘ on Seth Lui