In a city where sleek coffee machines, efficient coffee stands and cosy cafes can be found at every turn, finding that perfect cup of coffee on your way to work in the morning should not be too hard to find. But it really depends on what you're looking for – and if you are willing to queue a little.
So, at the risk of caffeine overdose, we go on the hunt for the most kick-ass cup of Joe you can find on the island. Whether it's a quick takeaway cup or a sit-down-and-smell-the-roast experience – these are our top picks of the best coffee joints in Singapore.
Tucked away just behind Sembawang Hills Food Centre this gem of a cafe roasts its beans on-site. Coffee is sourced from all over the world and if you happen to be there and ask nicely, the baristas might offer free tastings so you can pick a favourite from its range.
Blink and you might miss this sleek and minimalist cult coffee stand in OUE Downtown. Hailing from Japan, the coffee place first started as a pop-up store in a small house in a residential area in Omotesando Hills before it picked up in popularity. Regular customers and tourists would drop by for the perfect cup of coffee made by owner Eiichi Kunitomo. He has since expanded the concept to Hong Kong and Singapore but the coffee served in all the cities are different. Prior to opening the stand, Kunitomo found that Singaporeans enjoyed their coffee with a darker roast – and that's what we get here.
Liberty Coffee is a bean-roaster, wholesaler and retailer first, but you can also sit yourself down at its bar for hearty breakfast paired with a cuppa. The beans come from diverse regions such as Guatemala and Kenya but are finished in-house to create the perfect espresso blend. Need a La Marzocco machine for your home brews? It has those too.
The folks behind the defunct Smitten Coffee and Tea Bar, and Henry Congressional partner to provide the Toh Tuck area a triple threat that is a coffee shop, restaurant and bar. Getting here is tricky if you don’t live in the neighbourhood – but it’s worth a try.
The coffee beans here are roasted on-site, and the brew experiments plenty. Necessary Provisions was probably the first in the city to pioneer iced coffee cubes for its chilled drinks (from $5.50), and we've heard of the team barrel-ageing brews to taste wood's effect on coffee. And the café's exquisitely poured, crema-topped espresso-based drinks (from $5) are no swill either.
Dennis Tang and Lee Jia Min's tiny coffee outpost single-handedly turned Everton Park into hip neighbourhood. At this baristas' hangout, coffees are simple black or white affairs, in 3-, 5- and 7-ounce measures. And its staple Four Chairs Seasonal Blend is a common sight across cafés around town.
Nylon's roasts also made it on The New Black's curation of top-notch coffees from around the world, and the pair takes yearly trips to bean-growing regions like El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia and Costa Rica to get up-close with the product – that's dedication right there.
Tan Tiong Hoe taught the founder of local roaster Papa Palheta, Leon Foo, how to roast his coffee. Now Jacob Tan rides on his father’s expertise. There is no menu, so ask for any brew from the rotational range of single-origin coffee beans roasted, ground and brewed in-house, and expect clean-note long black brews in a refined reddish-brown colour coming out from the vintage Elektra espresso machine or the V60.
Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roasters has opened a tiny little venture so that caffeinated beans can reach the people in the CBD area. At Alchemist, get your coffee black or white and in two sizes, namely six- or 12-ounces, in a to-go cup to kickstart your day. Choose between two espresso brews – Dark Matter is bolder and has a nutty aftertaste while the Luminous blend is lighter with a fruitier flavour ($3-$6). Add an extra shot of expresso or chocolate for a buck. It also offers two filter blends to try ($5).
Assembly Coffee gets a sibling café in the Coronation neigbourhood. Atlas Coffeehouse is owners Daphne Goh and Lionel Ang realisation of a goal to serve more hot food than Assembly's tiny kitchen can handle. There are dishes like creamy mushrooms on sourdough ($12) with the option to add a sunny side ($2) or scrambled eggs ($3), and glazed salmon and a fried egg with crisped edges on soba noodles ($17) are their early stars. Assembly's ever-popular waffles ($12-$14) are also on the menu here, and Atlas has also introduced pancakes topped with caramelised bananas or honeycomb ice cream ($18) to its desserts menu – more sweets are on the way, including a pavlova topped with lemon curd and berry compote.
This growing brand of grab-and-go coffees, with an outlet in Rangoon Road, is more than just a way to pick up a quick boost. Hit up the brew bar for a tasty blended or single-origin sip to conquer the post-lunch sleepies.
Upper Thomson is no stranger to the hipster café – and Pacamara fits right in the ’hood. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow sunlight to drape over the minimal (if a little sterile) interiors of white walls paired with white tabletops, but it’s still a cosy-enough spot for catch-up sessions with friends over brunch. A selection of cakes such as the yuzu tart ($6) will tempt you at the till, but order it beforehand to enjoy with a cold-brewed coffee ($6) or a bold, nutty Roadster blend ($4.50-$6).
This neat coffee spot in the Farrer Park neighbourhood serves espresso drinks to complement café fare like chicken cheese burritos, croque monsieurs and hot favourite popcorn-topped panna cottas. But the main draw for the java-jonesin' are for its cold-brewed bottled coffee and chilled Valrhona dark cocoa brews, which the devoted take home to ration sips.
Settle for local kopi and ciabatta kaya toasts here instead of your regular cup of espresso and waffles. Brewing its coffee with a coffee sock, this coffeeshop also serves Singapore-style breakfast sets such as half-boiled eggs and nasi lemak.
Serving the sleepyheads on East Coast, this charming space on the junction of Telok Kurau Road builds an inviting atmosphere with vintage curios sourced from the nearby Changi Junk Store, plenty of desserts and good coffee. Beans from local stalwarts like Oriole Coffee Roasters and Nylon are represented in the hoppers here and brewed with a shiny FB 80 into espressos and ounce-portioned coffees.
Follow the hipster past the huge covered metal gates and you’ll find Chye Seng Huat’s semi-secret (well, not so much anymore) compound in the Jalan Besar industrial zone.
Headquarters of Third Wave coffee pioneers Papa Palheta, the two-storey coffee complex hides a coffee school and retail space on the second floor, while a full inventory of coffee gear dominates its ground floor café. Wait in line by the vinyl player piping Phoenix or The xx into the perpetually crowded space, and order an espresso made with its Nuts and Bolts or Terra Firma blends, or a procured single origin to drink in the café.
Before the nighttime shenanigans of The Spiffy Dapper kicks in, 73 Amoy Street is a cosy, romantically lit coffee spot.
The experimental drinks here are the result of creative thought by Dapper co-owner Abhishek Cherian George and head chef Christine Seah – but if it's a straight espresso you're hankering after, their functional espresso-based drinks are brewed with a punchy house blend.
Sarnies’ cuppas that have made it to Lonely Planet’s list of best coffees – choose from an exhaustive list of brews including flat whites, macchiatos and mochas.
This collaborative effort by Department of Caffeine and coffee-roasting outfit 2Degrees North Coffee Co occupies a sun-drenched shophouse unit with swirly Edison bulbs studded on the walls, pulling in a crowd of office types and bleary-eyed bartenders checking in for a pre-shift java jolt.
The rounded, dark chocolatey notes in Caldera house blend is built on Brazilian and Columbian beans that 2Degrees North roasts just for the café, and the sleek steel Victoria Arduino machine is quite the looker.
Three-time Singapore National Barista champion and ASEAN Barista champion Ryan Tan has a new coffee spot. But there are more than coffee drinks ($3.50-$10) and Aeropress, Syphon and Wave Dripper ($6.90) brews made with a roasted in-house blend and the occasional guest blend – a comprehensive all-day breakfast, lunch and dinner plan is also in place.
There are your requisite bare designer light bulbs, cement-washed walls and friendly service, but the mood at RONIN (whose name is Japanese for 'master-less samurai') is considerably darker; matte black finishes lend it a snazzy, mysterious air. Then there are its smooth-as-always lattes, minty Wicked Mochas and matcha lattes.
Harry Grover, the Spa Esprit Group and Melbourne-based Five Senses Coffee collaborate on this local favourite, which brews its popular 22 Martin and CMCR Espresso blends, as well as grow local appreciation for the different beans they manage to procure for the café.
Coffee-cupping sessions give café-hoppers a shot at cupping coffee just like the pros do, and the space frequently hosts the local barista community for workshops and yearly Aeropress Championships. You just have to love a coffee bar that gives back.