Ballon D’essai’s café latte is difficult to down, but this has nothing to do with the taste. In fact according to Susumu, the friendly barista who was manning the counter on our visit, their latte is a 'top secret' blend of five beans. And it’s as mellow as the jazz wafting out of the speakers overhead. The flavour is smooth with a little bitterness, but certainly isn’t weak. It’s a skilled balance of milk and coffee that has just the right amount of kick. What makes it so hard to consume is the idea of disfiguring the adorable rabbit that smiles at you from its surface.
Art abounds at Ballon D’essai, in the foamy creations floating on lattes, the quirky name ('trial balloon' in English) and even on the walls. The ambrosial aroma of rich coffee may lure patrons in, but it's the warm ambience and art gallery that makes them linger. Amber floodlights make the small shop feel more cosy than cramped, and the walls are decorated with striking paintings by established and up-and-coming artists. If all the art makes you feel inspired, you might find yourself signing up for one of their latte art workshops. The beginners' course is available any time.
Aside from lattes, Ballon D’essai has a selection of other coffees, including flat white, long black and macchiato. You can also customise with espresso shots, flavour shots and even decadent ice-cream toppings.