A trip down (coffee) memory lane

I was watching an old YouTube video of a wonderfully catchy performance by local duo 插班生 The Freshman accompanied on gheeta by Tony the Gheetaman, and the setting looked vaguely familiar.

Fourteen seconds into the video, I realised why. It was filmed outside Nylon Coffee Roasters at the Everton Park HDB blocks, with Diya and Carrie happily sitting on Nylon’s signature crate/bench.

If you’ve never seen this video before, I’d urge you to do so now. Just don’t blame me if the song gets stuck in your mind and keeps replaying the rest of the day. Especially the part that goes: “Downstairs that auntie always say I cantik only.”

“Wait a minute, that doesn’t look like Nylon!” you might argue. But you have to remember that this was filmed during the olden times, before their recent renovation and logo change, when life was simpler and more innocent.

It definitely brought back memories of my café hopping phase almost eight years ago, where I dragged The Wife to numerous places throughout Singapore. This was during my flat white phase, just before my current black filter period.

During the August of 2013, we went out every weekend and visited Tiong Bahru Bakery in Tiong Bahru, Chye Seng Huat Hardware in Jalan Besar, Five & Dime along River Valley Road and Penny University in Katong.

The drinks we ordered revolved around flat whites, piccolo lattes and white double ristrettos, interspersed with mochas, iced coffees, pour overs and one Prosecco. It was always nice to see pretty latte art in the cups, and I would always try to see how long I could maintain their shapes as I slowly and carefully sipped each cup.

And before you say anything — yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to mix alcohol with caffeine. Especially so when you’re day-drinking on a beautiful Sunday morning.

The visit to Chye Seng Huat was particularly memorable as we managed to get seats at the counter and managed to see our barista making my single-origin pour over coffee up close and personal.

She was very friendly, knowledgeable and patiently answered all the questions I threw at her. Looking back, I think that was the trigger that ended my flat white era and started my journey into home-made black filter brews.

The café hopping momentum carried over into the following month, where we found ourselves at Jimmy Monkey in one-north, Nylon (pre-reno) at Everton Park, Jewel Coffee along Rangoon Road and Department of Caffeine at Duxton Hill.

I recall Nylon being quite cramped with not much space to drink indoors, so we got our paper cups to-go and sat on the aforementioned crate/bench. As an aside, I have to say that I prefer their old logo with the moustache instead of their current minimalist N-dot-dot version.

Another interesting titbit that I remember came from our visit to Jewel Coffee, where we had a flat white and a Guatemalan cold drip. We were sharing drinks and therefore had sips from both cups. The combination had an interesting flavour that we struggled to identify.

“Hmm, it tastes like Lian Ou Tang (莲藕汤 ) to me…” I mused, and The Wife replied that since I mentioned it, yes, it did taste like Chinese Lotus Root soup. It’s quite amazing how the human tongue perceives flavour, isn’t it?

Work was getting busy and the coffee trips started tapering off over the next few months. We still managed to end up at Strangers’ Reunion at Kampong Bahru, Oriole Coffee along Orchard Road and One Man Coffee closer to home at Upper Thomson.

If you’re wondering why I added a glass of Coke to the photos above, it was just Oriole Coffee trying to be cute with how they served their iced coffee. Though, in their defense, I’d probably do the same thing as well, just to mess with customers’ minds.

Of all the coffee shops that we visited during the August 2013 to February 2014 stretch, I was curious as to how many were still in operation. Some I knew for sure were still open, but some I had to Google to find out.

No.Coffee ShopStill Open?
1Tiong Bahru Bakery
2Chye Seng Huat Hardware
3Five & Dime
4Penny University
5Jimmy Monkey
6Nylon Coffee Roasters
7Jewel Coffee
8Department of Caffeine
9Strangers’ Reunion
10Oriole Coffee
11One Man Coffee

Even though it’s been eight years, it was comforting to know that 9 out of 11 places that we visited during that time are still around and going strong. It’s especially amazing given the challenging year that we’ve all gone through, with F&B outlets hit particularly hard.

Given that most of the coffee that we drink is made at home nowadays, we hardly visit cafés anymore. Maybe it’s time to do another round of exploration, to re-visit old favourites and discover brand new ones.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: