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The New Black (CLOSED)

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  • Raffles Place

Time Out says

The New Black is a takeaway-only coffee service that celebrates the bean like few other java joints do, says Natasha Hong

Coffee appreciation in the city reaches a zenith as The New Black charts a plan for office-crowd domination with its java-to-go concept. Currently located on the corner of Upper Circular and South Bridge Roads – with a master plan to deploy five office lobby bars by March next year – this recently launched Singaporean company is all about exposing the local drinker to new expressions of the roasted bean.

While the idea of having guest roasts on rotation in a café’s hopper isn’t exactly fresh in Singapore – you’d need only to look at Drury Lane’s wall of empty coffee bags from the likes of Denmark’s Coffee Collective and Melbourne’s Proud Mary for evidence – The New Black rejects the idea of pushing its own house label on its masses.

‘Our concept is strictly a celebration of the roasting that’s being done today,’ says director of coffee, Will Firth. Firth teams up with 28HKS head honcho, Spencer Forhart – he’s the advisor and curator of the project – to design a seasonal menu that pulls together a broad range of single-origin and blended roasts. It includes big names like Norway’s Tim Wendelboe, Sydney’s Single Origin Roasters, London’s Workshop and Olympia Coffee Roasting Co from the US. Firth also researched the appropriate brewing methods for each roast, so you’ll be getting a cuppa as its makers meant it.

The coffee ($6.50-$20) isn’t all chocolatey and sultry like we prefer to slurp here in the office; some brews, such as Wendelboe’s Kapsokisio from western Kenya, even reveal the fruity and tea-ish possibilities of a light roast. Closer to home, The New Black also selected Everton Park mecca, Nylon Coffee Roasters, to showcase its own roast, which Firth effuses is at ‘an international level’.

That said, given the seriousness for the brown elixir in Singapore, The New Black isn’t concerned with carving out a kitsch klatch filled with Thieves Market tat against intentionally distressed walls. The New Black’s CEO and co-founder Phoa Kia Boon – also a graphic designer – crafted a polychromatic brand identity that won’t look out of place in a hip fashion boutique. And you’ve got to love the bright takeaway cups, which sit neatly in cup holders that resemble clutch bags, as well as Christophe Grillo’s flaky BAO Artisan croissants boxed and fitted into their own hatch on the carrier.

The two-module coffee counter and barista toolbench at The New Black are other works of high tech art. Built in collaboration with American machine manufacturer Modbar, the programmable machine jets out coffee from beer draft-like taps and artisan tea percolates in tall glass columns that rise above the counter.

You get face time with Black’s baristas, while iPads with clever infographics break down the dominant flavours of your brew. If you like your cuppa rich and strong, you might not enjoy some beans, but it’s all about being exposed to the world of coffee outside of what Singapore has to offer, and it’s hardly a snobby experience.

Written by Natasha Hong


Lobby, Republic Plaza
9 Raffles Place
Opening hours:
Mon-Fri 8am-6.30pm; Sat 8am-4.30pm.
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