How to find good coffee in Singapore
Even though we travel to Singapore regularly, we haven’t been out and about much for coffee of late. It was a real bonus to find the coffee culture alive and kicking. So where do you find good coffee in Singapore?
Generally, the trick is to get out of the tourist precinct (Orchard Road predominantly) although, in a pinch, you have an option there too.
The bottom line with coffee is – if you don’t drink it, chances are you won’t be able to make a decent one. We’ve found this all over the world, including Seattle (see that blog here), known as the home of coffee in the US.
And it’s very true in Singapore. If you’re staying in a major hotel, asking for a coffee will most likely get you one that comes out of an automated machine, rather than prepared by a barista. Sometimes these are OK, other times they’re like dishwater.
Searching out good coffee is a terrific way to get to know a city beyond its tourist precincts. That was particularly true in Shanghai (and you can see that post here). On our most recent Singapore sojourn, we headed to the fringes of Chinatown and out to Bugis for some excellent coffee, as well as an option in the heart of Orchard.
So, here’s our Singapore coffee guide. We’ll add more cafes over time!
This is a hugely fun spot, with a great vibe, personable service, quirky decor, a menu that reads exceptionally well and, of course, excellent coffee.
We’d been told that, if the barista likes you, you get a gingerbread man with your coffee. We must have qualified – see the picture at the top of this post.
This is possibly the best coffee we’ve had to date in Singapore. It’s smooth, full of flavour and very enjoyable. The staff travel regularly to Australia to get exposed to coffee culture and it shows. There are lots of promotions, as well as cocktail happy hours.
9 Jalan Kubor (near Bugis MRT)
Just a few doors down from Symmetry, this is a relaxed cafe-cum-art gallery. Locally roasted coffee is served and it’s full of oomph. A piccolo latte had a spectacular deep brown colour and the flavour was very robust, if a fraction bitter.
If you want options, there’s a range of craft beer, as well as a selection of snacks. It’s a nice venue, with free wi-fi and outdoor seating.
17 Jalan Pinang (near Bugis MRT)
On the fringes of Chinatown, this is a ‘blink and you’d miss it’ place. Here’s the front door – there’s no signage to speak of, so have the address uppermost in your head, or you’ll walk straight past. It’s an easy walk from City Hall, Raffles Place or Clarke Quay MRT stations.
Inside it’s dark and moody with Genovese coffee prepared with love by local baristas. There’s also a small food menu and a good option for sandwiches if you need to have a break from local fare. Despite the Japanese warrior name, this is essentially an Australian cafe, with the owners importing a decidedly Sydney-style menu.
The piccolo latte was a bit nutty, and very smooth. The espresso had a bit of an edge to it but very drinkable.
17 Hongkong Street
The Coffee Academics
There are two outlets in Singapore from this Hong Kong-based chain. One is in the Scotts Square shopping mall near the corner of Scotts and Orchard Roads, aka tourist central, while the other is in the Raffles Place shopping mall, next to the City Hall MRT station.
It’s a decent option if you’re in the middle of the action. They take a reasonable amount of care over the preparation of the coffee, but the baristas at Scotts Square seem to have more of a feel for coffee than in Raffles Place (which, as this blog was written, is a relatively new addition).
The piccolo latte is smooth enough, but the brew doesn’t have anywhere near the oomph of the other outlets featured here.