DRINK: When you think of specialty coffee, Papa Palheta immediately comes to mind. This coffee roaster started out as a wholesale coffee distributor and was one of the first people to promote the artisanship of producing high-quality coffee that was to be appreciated in small doses. They have since ventured into the café business with brunch staples and baked goods, taking over the Art Deco shophouse premise, but it is still the coffee that people come in droves for. They offer up a series of brews, including the very popular Nitro Black Matter; a smooth cold brew concoction that gets passed through nitrogen to result in a creamy, frothy top.
LEARN: The second floor, nicknamed the C-Platform, is where Papa Palheta holds weekly sessions for folks who are keen to learn more about the coffee craft. There are classes that cover everything you need to start making espresso-based beverages at home. They have latte art workshops that focus on the foundations of milk techniques, as well as an interactive coffee appreciation and cupping session that gives you an overview of the specialty coffee industry while letting you taste different coffees. Find out more here.
150 Tyrwhitt Road, tel: 6299 4321
DRINK: CMCR began working with Australian coffee wholesaler Five Senses Coffee to bring in quality beans into the café scene in Singapore by reaching out to coffee producers from all over the world. Their bistro-style café, a gorgeous space defined by floor-to-ceiling windows, marbled tops, light fixtures made from naked bulbs and an exposed ceiling, offers the usual selections of coffees – black, white, cold brew, iced – that you can have alongside their extensive breakfast or lunch menu, which serve anything from pancakes to burgers. If you want something a bit different, ask the staff for the “uncommon” filtered coffees. What is available depends on the roastery and their supply to the café. Expect brews from beans from Coko, Rwanda which results in a citrusy cuppa or a classic Kenyan coffee that has a rich, jammy body.
LEARN: Part of CMCR’s ideology is to make the knowledge surrounding good quality coffee more accessible to the general public, which is why they’ve set up the CMCR Academy. It’s a café laboratory and a dedicated training facility for baristas-to-be, but there are also courses available for folks looking to take recreational coffee classes. Cupping sessions are scheduled every Wednesdays afternoon, with the beans changing every week, so you can learn how different coffees taste like. Other workshops include learning about fundamental barista skills, latte art techniques as well as fundamentals of manual brewing. Upon completion of the class, participants will take home a certificate of participation and a bag of CMCR coffee. Find out more here.
22 Martin Road, #01-00, tel: 6836 4695
DRINK: Here’s a little historical fact for you: the founder of Tiong Hoe Gim Kee Trading (one of the pioneers in the coffee scene in Singapore and was set up in 1960) Tan Tiong Hoe, was the one who taught the founder of Papa Palheta, Leon Foo how to roast his beans. The café itself, named Tiong Hoe Specialty Coffee, was only opened in 2014 by the family-run business as another way to introduce good quality coffee into the neighbourhood. It sits under a HDB estate in Queenstown, and is a cheerful space decked out in coffee paraphernalia like sacks of coffee beans and historical anecdotes about the business. The espresso bar serves up drinks from mocha latte to macchiato, but also try their honey-infused Pollen White Cold Brew Coffee, which has a sweet, floral flavour and a creamy body. For something that packs more punch, try their aromatic Amber Cold Drip.
LEARN: The coffee classes at Tiong Hoe aims to teach you to become a coffee expert. The coffee basics course will cover the basics of coffee making from theory to practical basic brewing skills. You can also pick up skills on milk texturing and drink preparations, which teaches you how to create coffee art on espresso-based drinks. There is also a technical coffee appreciation workshop that teaches you how to identify the different nodes in your coffee, as well as more advanced classes like coffee calibration, where you will get free play to practice making adjustments on your coffee equipment to pull your own espresso blend. Find out more here.
170 Stirling Rd, #01-1133, tel: 6473 1133
DRINK: A.R.C. is an academy, roastery and a café all in one. They are known for supplying their beans to a number of renowned cafes in Singapore, including Salted Caramel, Maison Ikkoku and Sprout. But they also have their own café concept located at a shophouse with an Instagram-worthy mural wall just outside. The interiors are mostly clean and fuss-free, with industrial leanings. Their brunch menu is popular, with choices like eggs benedict, a breakfast platter of smoked salmon, baked potatoes and baked beans, as well as savoury muffins. Highlights in their coffee menu include the 1+1: a coffee “platter” comprising a single-shot espresso and a 150-ml milk-based coffee, and the cold brew, which is served in an attractive light-bulb bottle. The brew is on a rotational basis depending on what they have available for the day.
LEARN: The “academy” part of A.R.C. is situated on the second floor of the shophouse, hosting workshops like their Basic Barista Training, which teaches you the fundamentals – espresso tasting, espresso extraction, milk steaming and texturing techniques, and coffee bean storage – of being a barista. There are also classes like the Brew Methodology, which covers topics concerning brewed coffee like the brewing methods and differences as well as the various coffee taste profiles and characteristics. There are also coffee appreciation and latte art classes available. Find out more here.
29 Sultan Gate, tel: 6291 6863
DRINK: Like the cafes on the list, Highlander Coffee began as a coffee wholesaler, supplying to offices and other cafes before venturing out on their own with Espresso Bar. While the interiors of the small café is nothing to shout about, their coffees are widely known to be very aromatic and smooth. Their extensive beverage menu serves mainly espresso based brews like Americano, Flat White, Mocha and Latte, with the latter coming in all sorts of funky flavours like Kahlua, macadamia, roasted almond, hazelnut and spiced chai. Then there are also thirst-quenchers like their iced blended coffees. You can choose from a selection of single origin beans for your own brew. Pair your drink with their light savoury and sweet bites, ranging from sandwiches and salads to cakes and lasagne.
LEARN: At the Highlander Coffee Academy, there are three different sorts of courses you can take. This includes a gourmet coffee appreciation seminar that teaches you how to prepare your own specialty coffee at home. For serious coffee drinkers, pick up skills on how to be your own home barista with a commercial espresso machine in their intensive professional barista workshop. If you just want to taste good coffee then you can join their cupping sessions, where you’ll get to see the best way to taste coffee and learn about the coffee origins from the different continents. Find out more here.
49 Kampong Bahru Road, tel: 6226 1686