Singapore’s coffee scene is as complex and compelling as its renowned city skyline, making it an unmissable destination for those with a palate for caffeine. In recent years, the Lion City has experienced a renaissance in coffee culture, with a burgeoning specialty coffee scene springing up alongside traditional kopi-tiams.
It’s not just the variety that impresses, too; it’s the evident dedication to quality at every step, from bean to cup, that captivates visitors. Each café tells a story through its brews and offers a sensory journey into the depths of coffee craftsmanship.
Venturing through Singapore’s coffee scene is like leafing through a detailed compendium of global coffee trends. Here, the art of espresso blends harmoniously with the science of siphon brewing, while third-wave coffee aficionados enthusiastically debate over the merits of Aeropress versus pour-over methods. In this feature, we’ll take an in-depth look at some of the best coffee spots on the island for travellers in search of a top-notch cup of joe.
O’Coffee Club Roastery
O’Coffee Club Roastery, a long-time favourite Changi Airport dining option, invites both the tourist and the local to savor the richness of expertly roasted coffee. Formerly known as The Coffee Connoisseur, the roastery prides itself on its meticulous selection of beans, which it roasts in-house.
The coffees on offer present a wide selection of flavours that will surely suit every palate. Browsing the extensive selection also gives customers a chance to experience the bean’s journey from its origin, understand its character, and appreciate the transformation that occurs with every roast.
Patrons of the Roastery are encouraged to deepen their understanding through interactive workshops and coffee appreciation sessions, making it a hub for education amidst the hustle of Changi Airport. It’s not just a place to grab a quick coffee before a flight but a destination in itself, where the craft and culture of coffee are at the forefront.
Chye Seng Huat Hardware (CSHH)
Tucked away in the historic Jalan Besar district, Chye Seng Huat Hardware or CSHH captures the imagination, with its transformation from a traditional hardware store to a coffee haven. The café’s industrial-chic environment reflects both the building’s heritage and modern design principles, offering an unconventional setting in which to discover the wonders of coffee. The authenticity of CSHH’s atmosphere is matched only by its dedication to its craft, evident in every hand-poured drink it serves.
The heart of CSHH lies in its in-house roastery, which applies artisanal techniques to every batch of beans. The result is a rotating selection of single-origin offerings and house blends, each with its own story and flavour profile. Beyond specialty coffee, CSHH also serves as a stage for meaningful cultural experiences. These events and workshops connect coffee lovers from all walks of life, making CSHH a microcosm of Singapore’s dynamic coffee scene.
Nylon Coffee Roasters
Nestled in the Everton Park residential area, Nylon Coffee Roasters is a hidden gem for those questing for an exceptional coffee experience. This boutique outfit has carved out a niche for itself with an unwavering commitment to sourcing and roasting some of the finest beans available. At Nylon, it’s all about the purity of the product—the coffee speaks for itself, without the need for grandeur or embellishment.
The passionate founders of Nylon take patrons on a journey through their carefully curated selection of single-origin beans and distinctive blends. The café’s design is intentionally intimate and minimalist, adorned with little more than a few shelves of beans, which allows the complex profiles of their coffee to take centre stage. It’s in the simplicity of Nylon’s surroundings that the true essence of artisanal craft is brought to life, with each sip a testament to their dedication to excellence.
Common Man Coffee Roasters
Situated along Martin Road, Common Man Coffee Roasters is a stalwart in the local specialty coffee movement in Singapore and exudes an approachable warmth that welcomes every visitor. The space buzzes with an infectious energy, a hub where the community of coffee lovers and novices alike gather. Common Man prizes quality above all, with a menu that showcases the breadth of coffee’s potential—from rich, chocolatey traditional profiles to bright and fruity single-origin offerings.
The café also boasts an in-house roastery and a coffee academy, which demonstrate their holistic approach to coffee education. This educational wing of the establishment reflects a deep-seated belief in the value of coffee knowledge and skills development. The academy offers a range of workshops and courses tailored to cover various aspects of the coffee journey—from bean selection and roasting techniques to barista skills and latte artistry. Each session is crafted to enhance participants’ understanding and appreciation, whether one is a professional aspiring to elevate their craft or a simple coffee enthusiast.
Tiong Hoe Specialty Coffee
Tiong Hoe Specialty Coffee is a name that resonates with history and expertise. Located in Singapore’s vibrant Queenstown area and established in the 1960s, Tiong Hoe has grown from a humble grocery shop to a specialty coffee pioneer in Singapore. Their storefront and roasting space pay homage to the craft by showcasing vintage grinders and state-of-the-art roasting machines side by side. It’s this unique marriage of traditional and modern techniques that create the exceptional cup for which Tiong Hoe is so well-known.
Every cup brewed at Tiong Hoe is likewise a testament to the expertise of its artisans, who work to highlight the unique characteristics of the bean. Their commitment to coffee education is robust, as they offer workshops and tasting sessions that enrich the knowledge of both novices and aficionados. The establishment’s longevity and passion for coffee have made it an institution in Singapore.
At the end of the day, the abovementioned establishments testify to Singapore’s status as a must-visit destination for anyone who claims to love coffee. As travellers explore these coffee havens, they’ll get the chance to taste world-class brews and also immerse themselves in the compelling stories that percolate through Singapore’s vibrant coffee scene.
About the author:
Steve Rohan is a writer from Essex, England. He has traveled to over 60 countries, lived in Armenia, China and Hong Kong, and is now living the digital nomad life on the road.
Steve prefers “slow travel” and has covered much of the world by train, bus and boat. He has been interviewed multiple times by the BBC and recently featured in the documentary Scariest Places in the World. See the About page for more info.
Where I am now: Yerevan, Armenia 🇦🇲