Coffee, Tea or Me?

Coffee, Tea or Me?

The list that contains the undeniable love of coffee, tea and other beverages.
Xing Wei Chua
Xing Wei Chua

Wasn’t really intending to drop a post about this but thought it was just a “might as well” situation considering how we have taken wayyyy too many photos whilst being in the queue; just might as well put them to good use. TWG Tea is a brand that most locals should be fairly familiar with; established in 2007, the brand is probably best recognised as an upscale tea salon these days with outlets being found in malls such as ION Orchard, Ngee Ann City’s Takashimaya, and Marina Bay Sands — just to name a few. There has been two outlets of TWG Tea in Takashimaya at Ngee Ann City for quite a while; one being situated in the upper floors that is a dine-in concept with hot food, while there is another within the basement food hall that was dedicated to the retail of their tea products and other merchandise. TWG Tea’s basement outlet has since moved into another unit within the same level; now occupying the lot directly beside Donq Bakery, TWG Tea is also neighbours with Bacha Coffee — also operates by the same group as well.

Most folks should be pretty aware of what TWG Tea serves up these days, but the revamped space in Takashimaya’s basement does done with a slight difference — this outlet is the very first TWG Tea outlet that actually serves takeaway tea. The list of tea available for takeaway here is definitely less extensive than what one would find in their dine-in locations; that being said, there is still a wide selection to go for — think a good range of their teas from all over the world, as well as other teas from their Grand Classic Teas, Classic Teas for the Morning / Daytime / Evening, Solo Teas, Exclusive Tea Blends and Theine-free Tea Blends selection; all of which priced at a flat rate of $8 per cup irregardless of the tea opted. Patrons also do have a choice of doing a bundle with the macarons (six pieces) or the chocolates (six pieces) at $20 and $22 respectively. Takeaway cups are also beautifully packaged in a yellow cardboard holder; the takeaway cups being in a shiny gold colour whilst also accompanied with a packed glass straw (the same ones used for dine-in for their iced beverages), as well as a stick of sugar that can be stirred into the tea if one requires so.

Not sure if it might be the case but it does seem a lot like Bacha Coffee’s success in operating the takeaway outlet at Marina Bay Sands might be the catalyst for the group to replicate the same for TWG Tea and Bacha Coffee at the basement of Takashimaya. Nonetheless, it does seem that there is no diminishing interest from the general public on their tea even though it is exclusively available for takeaway here — there is still pretty much a beeline formed for their takeaway teas; those who intend to drop by should factor some waiting time to queue and for their orders to be prepared. With the opening of the new outlet at the basement of Takashimaya which sees TWG Tea starting to accommodate to the takeaway crowd, it would be interesting to see if this would also be the start of more of such TWG Tea outlets to come in the near future.

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Aroma Coffee should not be a brand that is totally unfamiliar for those following closely to the F&B scene in Singapore for a while. A concept by the same folks behind Aroma Truffle which is best known for their truffle potato chips that are retailed in local supermarkets, Aroma Coffee had first started out in 2021 being as a takeaway coffee kiosk at Northpoint City in Yishun. Aroma Coffee had since expanded its operations — opening their second outlet within the Central Business District, they are now also located on the ground level of Frasers Tower situated just a short walk away from Tanjong Pagar MRT Station; also just right opposite Amoy Street Food Centre. Unlike their very first outlet at Northpoint City however, Aroma Coffee’s second outlet now features a small seating area that works for both patrons waiting for their orders, as well as a dine-in area for those who may wish to have their beverages within the premises. Just like their previous outlet, Aroma Coffee only serves up beverages; there are no hot food or light bites being served here. The list of beverages available at Aroma Coffee are classified into two categories; Coffee and Non-Coffee beverages. Items included in the “Coffee” section of the menu would be the Spreezes; their signature offering that is sort of a Yuan Yang-esque beverage where tea meets coffee. Examples of some of the items listed on the “Non-Coffee” section included the Uji Matcha Latte, Valrhona Dark Chocolate and Australian Chai Latte. All beverages listed on the menu are available as either hot or cold beverages.

Going for the usual cuppa just to find out how well they do their coffee, we went with the White (Hot). We visited Aroma Coffee’s location at Frasers Tower during their very first week of operations — there was only one type of beans that they were serving up with their coffee on the day of our visit. Using beans of a single-origin from Brazil which they have roasted by themselves, the White (Hot) that featured the Oso Pardo beans carried a medium body — it’s somewhat bold flavour works well as a mid-day perk-me-up, whilst carrying an earthy note that was easy to drink; pretty well-balanced especially as a White with the inclusion of milk.

Had never tried Aroma Coffee at Northpoint City previously. That being said, the opening of Aroma Coffee at Frasers Tower does add to the ever-growing list of takeaway coffee establishments in the Central Business District. Prices of the specialty coffee served at Aroma Coffee at Frasers Tower is pretty on par with most other cafes — the Black (Hot) being priced at $4, while the White (Hot) is priced at $5; rather fairly-priced against the competition. That being said, what makes Aroma Coffee stand out from other establishments would probably be their Spreezes; a line-up that seems to be unique to their own. Yet another choice for the office folks in the Central Business District to grab a quick cuppa.

Had seen quite a bit of Waga Waga Den at South Beach Tower during the past week when they were still in their soft opening phase. Waga Waga Den takes over the former premises of Dimbluah Coffee at South Beach Tower, and is the latest concept by the same folks behind Black Cow (also at South Beach Tower) and Shatoburian (at Palais Renaissance, serving Yakiniku). Whilst their other concepts are more restaurants that has an emphasis on beef, Waga Waga Den is primarily a specialty coffee joint. Currently still serving a limited menu, the menu is limited to mostly beverage offerings focusing on specialty coffee; non-specialty coffee options include the Matcha Latte and Iced Houjicha Lychee. For those who are feeling a little peckish, Waga Waga Den serves up Warabi Mochi (sadly unavailable during our visit) — they will also be introducing more food items progressively as time goes along.

Listed as an item under the “Nowhere Else” section of the menu, the Le Cloud is their rendition of an iced latte that is unique to Waga Waga Den. Without the lid attached to the takeaway cup, the Le Cloud does bear a visual resemblance to Omotesando Koffee’s Iced Cappucino that features a bubble cap with cocoa powder sprinkled over the top (side note: Omotesando Koffee had also temporarily ceased operations at OUE Downtown some time back). Overall; a pretty good cuppa here — there seems to be this thickened layer of coffee that sits atop the iced latte — almost akin to that of a macchiato foam that somewhat makes the Le Cloud different from Omotesando Koffee’s Iced Cappuccino. That being said, the foam does not carry any notes of sweetness as one would have expected from the same from bubble tea specialty stores. Instead, the foam layer seems to be further enhance the punchy notes of the Iced Latte beneath — one that carried a mostly earthy flavour profile with a medium body that works as a morning perk-me-up.

Was pretty much a shame that we did not get to try any of their food offerings given how the Warabi Mochi was unavailable during our visit, but we do look forward to seeing what else they have to offer more food items when they introduce them progressively in the future. With prices that are rather reasonable for takeaway coffee (though slightly more pricey for the Le Cloud and the non-coffee options), Waga Waga Den is likely the go-to spot for specialty coffee for office workers around the Esplanade / Promenade neighbourhood.

Was informed by a friend about Venture Drive Coffee’s newest outlet at Alexandra Village, and decided to check it out. Occupying a space that is half of the usual size of a HDB shop unit, Venture Drive Coffee’s latest outlet is definitely smaller than their space at their former location at Vision Exchange. Their current space at Blk 123 Bukit Merah Lane 1 also puts them diagonally opposite Rookie’s Coffee Shop at Blk 124 Bukit Merah Lane 1; the latter of which also serves specialty coffee with a limited selection of bakes. Whilst Venture Drive Coffee is now decked in a largely black colour scheme with a industrial-themed decor, the space does feel a little haphazard with most of the dine-in seats located outside the shop — the interior is largely dedicated to the retail section where one will be able to grab their roasted coffee beans to-go, as well as the espresso counter and a coffee roaster.

Serving simply just beverages at their new space at Bukit Merah, the menu comprises of espresso-based coffee and hand brews featuring beans from various origins. For those who are not into coffee, one can also opt between the beverages listed in the Single Origin Chocolate sections of the menu, as well as the Ceremonial Matcha Latte and Tea by the Pot as listed in the Specialty Tea section of the menu as well. Going for the Flat White — 8 Oz, it is noted that the cuppa pulled was done with a single shot of espresso; we heard that they did so as there were other patrons which had provided them with feedback that the roast is actually fairly strong if done as a double shot. Featuring a blend of beans from Costa Rica, Colombia and Ethiopia, the Opus 27 Moonlight Sonata Seasonal Blend is said to carry notes of chocolate, hazelnut and moonlight flower as stated in the menu — this explains how the cuppa turned out to be one with a light body, whilst having a earthy flavour profile. The overall cuppa lies towards the milkier end, but this was well-pulled considering how smooth and creamy it was.

Having been established far later than most other cafes that are part of the third-wave coffee movement, Venture Drive Coffee may not be a name that is as recognisable as some of the industry veterans but this
really puts Venture Drive Coffee as one of the underdogs in the cafe scene here. That being said, we were really into how they seem to carry a slightly different vibe to the cafe scene with its somewhat rowdy outlook yet with a clean and minimalistic approach while at it - all that whilst being knowledgeable in the craft; something which they have carried since their days at Vision Exchange. Whilst Venture Drive Coffee may no longer be situated at Vision Exchange (the building being located at Venture Drive, hence the namesake), their name would probably still live on as an establishment that takes prides in serving up their very own locally-roasted specialty coffee.

Visited the new KYŌ Kohee situated at 144 Robinson Road within the Central Business District of Singapore within somewhat of a walking distance from Tanjong Pagar MRT Station. The Japanese-inspired takeaway coffee bar is situated just a couple of doors away from the recently re-located The Betterfield that is also at Robinson Road. Being a coffee bar with a Japanese influence, the interior can be said to be kept as simple as possible, with a dash of wooden accents around to maintain an aesthetic that makes the interior feel warm and close to nature. The menu features mainly beverages here due to the concept that KYŌ Kohee is intended to be — patrons can opt between specialty coffee, non-coffee beverages such as Chocolate Milk or a Cold Brew Royal Milk Tea, as well as a selection of Japanese brewed tea (think Sencha) and Matcha offerings as well. For those who are looking for a small bite or something sweet, they do also offer Affogato and Croffles as well.

The Iced KYŌ Coffee is undoubtedly their signature offering here; also the only item here they bears the namesake of the shop itself. Using beans that are roasted by Allpress Espresso, the Iced KYŌ Coffee can be said as an item that seemingly resembles that of a coffee “milkshake” that is made undoubtedly by folks who seem to know quite a fair bit about coffee — nothing like the sickening sweet concoctions that commercial outfits love to serve up, but one that really puts the effort in showcasing the flavour profiles of the coffee used here. Saw them preparing our order and was pretty intrigued by how they had used a frother for the shot of espresso before pouring the espresso into the cup of chilled milk — the process seemingly helps to aerate the espresso to give someone of a texture that is still liquid, yet also resembles somewhat of a micro-foam; provides a thick texture that once stirred into the chilled milk, gives the beverage a distinct nutty and earthy flavour profile with the milk providing a further depth of the said flavours of the coffee. A very interesting condition, and also one that we actually really quite enjoyed.

Whilst being a coffee bar, we were impressed with how the folks behind the counter are actually as knowledgeable in teas as well and does do their Senchas pretty well too — was recommended to have the iced version of their Sencha Yabukita and we were also pretty taken by how the tea seemed to exude a light, but evident hint of the tea that was easy on the taste buds; a very light and refreshing drink that seem to open up the appetite as well without being particularly sharp (or as I would call, a rude awakening). With the lifting of more of the restrictions that were previously in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, the opening of KYŌ Kohee is pretty timely for the office folks returning back to their workplace — a new spot to check out to grab that daily cuppa!

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Glad to have finally headed down to Rookie’s Coffee Shop after a couple of times when they intended trip just kept getting axed due to other plans that just happened out of the blue whenever I wanted to make a visit. Situated at Blk 124 Bukit Merah Lane 1, Rookie’s Coffee Shop is actually situated along the same row of shops as Lina’s Confectionery (their Kueh Salat is to die for) and KEK Seafood (aka Keng Eng Kee Seafood — my absolute favourite for Coffee Pork Ribs); the hole-in-the-wall coffee shop sorta reminds me of a vibe similar to that of Prodigal Roasters meets Double Up Coffee if you may, especially with its clean aesthetics with that slightly funky, playful and laid back vibes. Rookie’s Coffee Shop is that sort of space meant for the serious coffee lover — whilst offering espresso-based coffee, there is a heavy emphasis on coffee served using the Aeropress; so much that there are actually more choices of beans for such coffee as opposed to their espressos-based offerings. Those looking for something to munch on can opt for either the Lemon Bar or the Chocolate Chip Cookie — the only two food items that they serve.

Opting for the Lemon Bar, the Lemon Bar comes in well-sized square that comes with lemon curd, and a base that is pretty much akin to that of the crumbly New York-style cheesecake base at the bottom. Reckon this would have worked especially well with the Black and the Aeropress coffees — the lemon curd’s punchy zing definitely did provide quite a kick, while the crumbles gave that nice textural contrast against the smooth cure; all that with a slight buttery touch. They were brewing their espresso-based coffee using beans roasted by Little Big Coffee Roasters; a local roastery that also runs a cafe at Biopolis. Using single origin beans from Panama, the White here was especially well-brewed; smooth and creamy, whilst carrying a light body and an earthy flavour profile that works as a gentle, leisurely cuppa for the mid-day wind-down.

Rookie’s Coffee Shop is pretty much a hidden gem; one of those that serves a pretty mean cuppa in a neighbourhood where there are a few cafes in existence across several estates, though only few with such a strong emphasis on the execution of their coffee. No doubt this spot wouldn’t be a haunt for those looking for hot food and comforting brunches that attracts the typical cafe lovers, but this is definitely somewhere one can go to for a serious cuppa in a light-hearted, friendly and neighbourhoodly setting with a short chit-chat with the barista as you wait for your order to be completed. A spot that I actually would keep in mind to visit when I am in the area again; wishing the folks behind Rookie’s Coffee Shop all the best in what is to come!

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It seems that Everton Park is seeing much of a revival of the vibrant cafe scene in the neighbourhood after the first initial wave of cafes had come and go there for the past couple of years — Handcraft Coffee is the latest addition here; opened by the same folks behind Grace Espresso at [email protected] along River Valley Road, they are located just right beside Pickle Bakery, which makes them a convenient coffee pick-up spot just after getting some of the stellar house-made artisanal breads next door. Being more of a hole-in-the-wall meant more for takeaways, Handcraft Coffee serves up only specialty coffee brewed from the espresso machine and hand-brewed filters; patrons can choose to have their coffee around the standing bar beside the espresso machine, or by the cushioned bench just right beside the entrance.

Opting for the White — 5 Oz, our coffee was brewed using the Kedir Bali beans roasted by Sweet Blossom Coffee Roasters; a coffee roastery that is established just right across the border in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Felt that the White — 5 Oz here is particularly well-pulled; it’s smooth, creamy and came with a clean finish — carried a rather unique flavour profile where it comes with a mellow, fruity body, but ends odd with an earthy undertone. Pretty impressed with how this went.

Everton Park may be synonymous with great coffee and artisan bakes, with the likes of Pickle Bakery, Nylon Coffee Roasters, The Better Half and Patissier Woo being located at several corners within the HDB estate. Being located at a shop space facing Neil Road, Handcraft Coffee works more of a convenient coffee pick-up for those who do not have to time to wind around the estate in search for their cuppa — a good alternative to Nylon Coffee Roasters especially if the crowds to get a little crazy there.

Heard all about the new Pinhole Coffee Bar which had recently opened its doors pretty recently along Purvis Street — the coffee bar is situated right next to Jai Thai. Being a spot that focuses on their specialty coffee, expect a whole menu revolving around filter coffee where they feature single-origin beans roasted by various coffee roasters locally or beyond. Those who are more into espresso-based coffee will also be able to find the standard range of coffee beverages such as that of the Black, White and Espresso being available on the menu here; there is also a tasting flight which they have dubbed the “Hello, Good Morning” here, while non-coffee options include chocolate, artisanal tea and a tea ferment as well. For bakes to go along the cuppa, patrons can opt between the cookies and lemon loaf; both of which being the only bakes available on the day of our visit to Pinhole Coffee Bar.

For our choice of the filter coffee, we went with the Rwanda Umbumwe roasted by local coffee roaster, Cata Coffee (cafe-hoppers from water back in the day may be familiar with them being the coffee programme running alongside The Bakery by Woodlands Sourdough when they were still at Serene Centre). The tasting notes for the beans that we have picked includes hints of “pink guava, raspberry and white florals” — noticed that rather floral note in its body, while there was a rather alluring smokiness with a clean finish, which I found to be rather intriguing.

There seems to be an uprising of specialty coffee bars opening of the late, especially with the likes of abseil and Haven Coffee which have opened rather recently. With lesser specialty coffee options within City Hall these days, Pinhole Coffee Bar is a great addition to this part of the island — a rather centrally located cafe that emphasises on coffee; somewhat a great alternative to the crowded Narrative Coffee Stand on the other end at Bras Basah. A spot that coffee lovers should definitely check out.

Christmas is just round the corner, and Old Hen Coffee has just released yet another batch of beverages for the festive season. Joining the Peppermint Cocoa which had made its appearance during the same period in prior years is the Gingerbread Coffee — a newly introduced limited-time only special for this season.

Described to be brewed with “quintessential holiday spices like ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon”, the Gingerbread Coffee does carry a spiced note that is pretty similar to that of the Spiced Pumpkin Latte that they have released as a special for the Halloween season, though the Gingerbread Coffee is significantly less sweet — pretty much to an unsweetened version of their iconic creamy cold brew with evident hints of cinnamon and ginger. Personally still prefer the Peppermint Cocoa over this one given how festive it tastes, though the Peppermint Cocoa does lack the caffeine component that the Gingerbread Coffee has.

With Old Hen Coffee releasing a new bottled brew for every season of the late, I am looking forward to see if they will be coming up with any new creation for the Chinese New Year season that is coming next after Christmas, considering they do release the Orange Mocha annually in line with the festivities. Let’s just cross our fingers for now and hope for some new and innovative flavours for their bottled brews to come …

Tanjong Pagar has been quite the enclave for new cafe openings of the late, with cafes such as COTTA, Delicatessen, Alice Boulangerie etc. that had recently opened their doors here — abseil is one of the latest ones that had moved into the neighbourhood within Eon Shenton; the same building also houses Double Shot Coffee just a few units away from abseil. Focusing mostly on coffee offerings, the vibes at abseil reminds us of Platform. at Telok Ayer Street with its minimalist and clean decor meant to replicate that of a living room with curtains, floor lamps and some flora in corners of the space. Patrons can get to choose between espresso-based coffee, as well as a range of filter coffee brewed using beans from various origins — non-coffee drinkers can also choose between the few tea options that they have to offer, and patrons can also opt for a Dacquoise to complete the experience.

Had the abseil — the signature beverage here that actually comprises of espresso, osmose water and cream; the beverage comes served in a format similar to that of a macchiato with the cream atop. Served also with a straw, we were recommended to first take a sip of the cream, then use the straw to have the coffee beneath before mixing it up for the complete experience. Whilst the cream is smooth and carried a sweetness typical of that to macchiato-esque beverages served in bubble tea shops, the coffee comes with a medium body and a fruity flavour profile — personally would have preferred to have the beverage as-is, taking a sip of the cream and the coffee as and when we fancy rather than mixing it up as incorporating the cream into the coffee didn’t really make much of a difference except to dilute the cream, which quite defeated the purpose for us.

We also paired the abseil with the Earl Grey Dacquoise — the nut meringue sandwich came light and crumbly with a thick layer of Earl Grey cream that is spiked with orange peels for a zesty touch. The folks behind the counter shared that it was an apt pairing with the coffee to create this Yuan Yang-esque feel where coffee meets tea; something which we cannot agree more with.

Perhaps abseil might be stronger with their filter Coffee selection; that is something which we can only comment on when we try it the next time we come around here. But that being said; the relaxing environment and the lo-fi beats — it is undoubtedly that zen spot that soothes the soul, and that sort of spot I would look forward to just sink into to enjoy some vibes to take a slower pace whilst in the bustling Central Business District of Singapore.

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We also went for the Coffee Jelly Latte during this particular visit because we had always been wanting to try their coffee menu and this had always stood out for us whenever we skimmed through the menu here. While the body for the Latte here is more of the nutty sort, we quite fancy how the coffee jelly adds a nice chew and a refreshing note to the latte with its cleaner notes of coffee without all that milk — really fits the latte very well and a drink that seems overshadowed by the more attention-grabbing ones such as the Pei Pa Koa Latte with Peach Gum.

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Had visited Seng Coffee Bar quite some time back when they had first opened their doors and tried the Cempedak Creme Brûlée during that visit — was looking for somewhere to sit around since there was some time before dinner and thought why not settle here.

We tried the Secret Darkness Cold Brew — the packaging suggests that it may be a limited-time only special released just for Halloween. Look past that attention-seeking black aesthetic of the liquid contained in the bottle and this was a beverage set to impress — a concoction involving coconut, hazelnut and chocolate, it is almost akin to a chocolate milk with the body carrying evident notes of hazelnut, though it is how refreshing the coconut was at the start that made the beverage particularly intriguing.

Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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