Friday, February 11, 2011

Singapore - a tale of 2 coffees

One of the nice things to do while on vacation is just do nothing but relax.  Leisurely mornings over a cuppa or a post-lunch wind down at a nice coffee bar.  No commuter rush, no conference calls, and even a significant decrease of the Blackberry ping that we've all sadly gotten used to.

Over 2 different times on 2 days, I wanted to just enjoy possibly the better, if not best coffees on the island.  I do not claim to have tried them all but these 2 have credibility since they also roast their own beans.  This is a big thing with me, since it really is about the freshness of the beans in your cup.  But that's where the similarities end.

Oriole is a cool cafe with a well stocked bar where you can have something stronger than coffee.  There's also a decent looking menu (although I didn't eat there).  There is even live music in the evenings, I am told.  Although I didn't have a meal proper, I did have the sticky pudding with ice cream, that I have to say was very decent.

Sticky Pudding with Ice Cream
The Pudding was warmed and drizzled with a light syrup and laced with very well soaked and plump raisins, and brought to cool with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  A tad sweet, but a perfect accompaniment to the main event.

Filter of Ethiopian Sidamo
The Ethiopian Sidamo was a tad spicier than my usual first choice of a Brazilian blend.  Although a little unsure when I ordered it, since I haven't had an Ethiopian blend that I really enjoy, this was very well done.  Aromatic from a good roast, the aftertaste was also surprisingly smooth despite the spicy note.  Easier down the palate than I thought it would be, this is just one of those cuppas I would remember.

On the other end of the rainbow, Cuppachoice is in the heart of Chinatown.  Their opening hours are reflective of their customer base, catering largely to the worker bees in the area, although I thought an opening time of 9.30am was a tad late.  

Chee Cheong Fun and Yam Cake
No worries, I walk across to the Chinatown Food Centre to see what everyone was having for breakfast.  Old habits die hard and I naturally gravitated towards my childhood stall to get Chee Cheong Fun (steamed rice rolls) and Yam Cake.  Drenched in a sweet sauce, soy and sesame oil, and given a little kick from a dash of chilli sauce on the side, there is something about the combination of the different flavours absorbed by the rice rolls and yam cake that brought back a lot of sweet memories.

Piccolo Latte by Cuppachoice
As I finish breakfast, I'm just in time to head back to Cuppachoice.  Daniel, the ever-patient and ever-passionate barista takes me through the offerings.  I actually wanted a filter coffee but got persuaded to try an Indian Monsoon blend.  I take a sip and say "not bad".  He goes: "Nope, too much foam" and decides the Guatamala blend is better for a piccolo latte, and substitutes my glass even before I'm half way through.  Such a perfectionist.  Hmm..  he was right.  The Guatamala blend was brighter.  I will be back to try the filter coffees since that is my preference, and hopefully Daniel will share a little more the next time I'm there.  Cliche as it may seem, he was genuine when he said: "I really love my job.".

With coffee places like this, there is hope for the coffee scene in Singapore.  I am excited and will try a couple of the other places like Papa Pahleta and Forty Hands the next time I'm in town.

Oriole Cafe & Bar 
96 Somerset Road 
#01-01 Pan Pacific Serviced Suites
Singapore 238163
Tel: +65-6238 8348

Cuppa Choice Cafe, Academy, Retail, Roastery
3 Temple Street
Singapore 058556
Tel: +65-62278892

Jia Ji Mei Shi 佳记美食  
Blk 335 Smith Street  
Chinatown Food Centre Complex

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