The steam, the somewhat disconcerting violent explosive noises, that smell. Like passive smokers, we inhale deeply and let the little caffeinated molecules trip up to our brains and play with our pleasure. The coffee house is a place to sit and be for a bit, meet friends to relive the weekend’s antics, be inspired, watch various worlds go by. It’s a place of gesticulated debates, the first relaxing moment of the weekend. A place to muse on print or do the hangover breakfast.
The coffee is only a part of it; the culture’s what you’re after. So where can you find your niche, the place to fit your kinks and preferences? We headed out across the city to see what’s on offer. If you’ve never seen daylight when leaving the office, you’d know that coffee is indispensable in boosting the languished state of mind. Don’t be a contributor at ineedcoffee.com and mourn about the oh-so-important loss of your coffee, instead, check into the following coffee outlets for some help:
Blu Jazz Cafe Singapore
Blu Jaz Cafe
11 Bali Lane, +65 62923800
Even without the coffee this is a sensory experience. Bali lane itself is striking – sitting low across the green below the fantasy of Parkview Square. This particular joint is next to what looks like an artists studio spilling out into the street. The cafe itself is open and inviting. A mixture of furniture provides a variety of options for your weary butt. There’s even a sculpted velour chaise lounge whose fingers stretch up drawing attention to the ceiling and it’s menagerie of decorative lampshade cum mobiles.
This place is boho with a little psycadelia: reds, pinks, feathers, shiny – mixed in with some classic design and ethnic pieces. There’s a variety of drinks and eats to add to the seduction of the senses. Menu highlights include Affogato, involving espresso shot and ice cream, as well as premium Belgium export Duval at only 10 dollars. You can get your basics here too: lattes, iced teas and fruit juices. Food wise we’ve got cakes to go with coffee, as well as more substantial offerings.
Whatever CafeWhatever Cafe
18-20 Keong Saik Street, www.whatever.com.sg
This place is all about calmness, peace and a bit of tranquillity. Sooth your busy mind in this spacious bookshop cafe. The tone is set with clean white shelves, stone and wood as well as a tinkling water feature and warm lighting. The cafe’s skylight enables you to do outside inside, or you can do the real thing on the street or in the courtyard. Thought and attention have gone into this place, even the cutlery is simple-stylish. The music lulls you into your relaxed place, whilst you enjoy a beautiful unfurling flower tea.
The menu decorates a wall next to the coffee bar. There’s a wide selection of healthy juices with some interesting combinations. You can get a good decaf coffee at a good price or opt for one of the exotic artisan teas for only a few more dollars. Organic, vegetable laden food is on offer and there’s even some no-gluten, no-diary, no-sugar, but-still-tastes-mighty-fine cake.
Gone Fishing Cafe
15 Chu Lin Road, www.gonefishing .com.sg/cafe.htm
This place is about ideas. It’s full of them too with the most interesting and informative graffiti wall you’ll ever see. The owner did what so many wish for – ditched the corporate normality and went off to do what he actually wanted to do. Gone Fishing is his want, along with the life-coaching work that forms the other bit of the business. This place is a beacon of light, in a small row of shops tucked up near Bukit Batok Nature Reserve. It’s a bright interior with a front terrace; it’s all quite simple. The main focus is on the thought, ideas, expressions and feelings that are shared via the wall and the conversation.
Drinks and food are served, because even philosophers need nourishment; the house speciality is tasty Prata wrap – a kind of westernised murtabak. The prices are reasonable and it’s a relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere. There’s a chance to get actively involved too. There are monthly ‘Tuesdays with Fisher’, an enlivening discussion and drinks with the owner, as well as the monthly ‘Philosophy Cafe’ with a real local mind explorer.
Spinelli Cafe Singapore
Spinelli Cafe Singapore
45 Pekin Street, #01-02 Far East Square and other locations, www.spinellicoffee.com
Nestled off the main throughway this branch occupies a covered air con’d courtyard so you can sit under umbrellered tables, as if in Paris, and remain cool. The flow of lunch and coffee breakers make it a great people watching location.
As you’d expect, coffee and all it’s variants are the main stay of the menu. There are iced versions and some interesting teas on offer too, as well as sandwiches and an array of patisseries that sit patiently knowing your attempt to resist will be futile. There’s the marginally more healthy biscuit on offer too – good for dunking or munching.
The key to any chain is that they offer consistency. They’re the reliable option; for those times when you just want that hit, when you just don’t want to take the risk of trying a new pretender. This firm has a formidable reputation for their skills with the beans and the steam and the staff are adept at getting you and your satisfaction united pronto.
The Gashaus was a music cafe that has sadly closed, but now exists online as a music website: www.gashaus.com
Comfort and ease are served up with classic Italian coffee here just off the busy Bugis streets. This place is huge and has so many sofas there’ll be no more chair envy in your life. It’s a personal place that speaks to you – not literally mind you, that’d be a bit frightening. There’s witty tone to the menu and the signs; the foosball table and the fairy lights, the mighty-sized cups and saucers in the shop and the make up your own sandwich option. This place could keep you occupied and amused all weekend.
There’s a kind of Parisian art house thing going on upstairs with coloured lighting, retro furniture jems and semi-industrial decor. There’s pool too. You can do some surfing on the net or just sit and watch the commanding view of the world that passes by the glass front. To keep your energy levels up, Elvis has been bought together in a very logical union with the humble Latte – a coffee involving peanut butter (genius). In true homage to The King, all day breakfast is available too. I wasn’t joking about spending the whole weekend! It’s a popular place with musicians as well, and rumour has it they’ll be opening jamming studios upstairs in April.
Library@Orchard 391 Orchard Road, #05-26 Ngee Ann City, and other locations, www.cafe-galilee.com
The joy of this place is all in your mind. Sit directly above several million dollars worth of leather, cashmere and diamonds, and enjoy some moments of intellectual stimulation before you return to finding those shoes. It’s a simple, clean space, slick and modern with glass and metal made friendly with water features and some cleverly placed plants.
But it’s the books that make it. Most of your fellow coffee housers are in between lines – caught in a love triangle, a mystery unfolding. There’s a wonderful calm and still air, with enough music to enable a few chatting types to talk without embarrassment.
The coffee options are easy to navigate, with teas and juices available too. A whole bunch of cakes and puffs make good cheap brain food for the students as well as the reading for fun lot. A good latte and fruitful muffin were served up for not quite 6 dollars. And you can go and grab a magazine to thumb through for no cost at all.
And after all that you may need to take up green tea for a few weeks and get over the shakes!
The Coffee Connoisseur
Vice: Hazelnut Qahwah. According to the waiter, Qahwah is an African name for coffee but from what I gather, it’s actually an Arabic coffee that is supposed to be strong aromatic, flavoured coffee. The Hazelnut coffee was steaming with clouds of aromatic hazelnut. There is a strong hazelnut smell, but upon drinking it, it tastes like light coffee. Just strong enough to give you the caffeine fix, but light enough to slip away from your mouth so that you’re not burdened with the after coffee breathe.
Vice: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. From the birthplace of coffee, the Yirgacheffe coffee beans are one of the higher grades of gourmet coffee in Ethiopia. The aroma is unique, but can only be smelt when inspected closer. The liquid swerves around in my mouth lightly and it feels almost soft. A tad of flavour lingers for a bit before dissipating. In the menu, it was described to have a hint of black current. Though the coffee was a sensual experience on its own, the hint of black current was not present no matter how hard I searched for that Ribena feeling.
The Mind Cafe
The Mind Cafe
Vice: Espresso. There is little to pick and choose on the menu if you are looking for coffee. However, if you need that coffee fix while gaming till dawn, the Espresso does the trick. Thick and strong. The Espresso here is as straightforward as you’ve expected it to be. Now… where’s that coffee mint.