In a city where sleek coffee machines can be found at every turn, you'll want to drink only from the best. These are our picks of the best coffee joints in Singapore.
Italy's oldest coffee roaster has landed in Singapore. Forget Third Wave – Caffe Vergnano has been a part of coffee culture since 1882, when Dominico Vergnano first started the company in the small town of Cheri in the foothills of Turin. Today, the company is still family owned and run by direct descendants of Dominico, ensuring the quality of the beans. Have a taste of this historic cup of coffee at Caffe Vergnano's 100th café in the world and its first in Singapore. Located in South Beach, the caffeine joint is primed to serve people looking to grab a cuppa in the morning or have their meetings over an espresso or one of its signature hot chocolate drinks ($3.50-$6)
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).
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).
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.
'ARC' stands for 'academy, roastery and café', three elements that are brought together under one roof for a complete bean experience. This Kampong Glam standout is owned by an all-star team of local Latte Art, Brewers Cup and Barista champions, including three-time Singapore Barista champion, John Ryan Ting. The blends and single-origins served out of machines and filters are all roasted within its shophouse premises, so you can bet the coffee’s fresh.
Classes are available for coffee lovers of all levels, from basic appreciation workshops and latte art, to brewing courses for the wannabe barista ($50-$240). Coffees range from $3.50 to $7, brunch classics like salads and a pulled pork twist on eggs Benny are priced at an affordable range of $6.80 to $19.80, and meat-based mains go for $16.80 to $23.80.
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.
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.
This über-sleek, homegrown concept is all about exposing local drinkers to new expressions of the roasted bean. While the idea of having guest roasts on rotation isn’t exactly fresh in Singapore, The New Black rejects the idea of pushing its own house label.
Bronwen Serna, The New Black's director of coffee, together with 28HKS' Spencer Forhart – he’s the advisor and curator of the project – are constantly on the lookout to cull beans from illustrious roasters from all over the world. Big names include Norway’s Tim Wendelboe, Denmark's The Coffee Collective, Small Batch from Melbourne, and Olympia Coffee Roasting Co from the US. The Republic Plaza branch of the chain also conducts free tastings of its many beans on offer on Tuesdays, 3 to 5pm.
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.
The good folks behind hipster joints The Plain and The Bravery seem determined to slake our thirst for their Genovese cuppas – they’ve only just gone ahead to open up their third café along the chintzy HongKong Street. 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 every Wednesday 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.
At this tiny monochrome-and-marble coffee nook on Duxton Road, creative presentation is king. Featuring the Carmello blend by Aussie coffee roasters Allpress, the cold brews ($5) here are served in five medical syringes and the takeaway spot pours piccolo servings in limited edition coffee waffle cones for you to have your cuppa and eat it too. For the utilitarian drinker, standard espressos ($3) and double shots of black ($4.50) and white ($5) coffees are also on hand to deliver a caffeine fix.
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.
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.
Sorry Jimmy Monkey, the coffee geeks in us like JMtoo better. After a roaring brunch trade at the original, Michael Ryan's brand returns to its coffee-serious roots with a brew bar kitted with two top-of-the-line Slayer machines from Seattle. Sit around the brew bar, dominated by the main machine, as your barista brews Jimmy Monkey's flagship, a full-bodied Ironbark 3.3 blend, for an espresso ($4), latte, cappuccino ($5), or mocha ($6).