As Sprudge writer Joanna Han declares, “all coffee enthusiasts know that the ideal way to explore a new city is through its coffee shops.” I have to agree: I always try to find at least one good coffee joint in each city I visit, one that’s won the approval of both locals and out-of-towners, so I can drink up the buzz of caffeine and community.
If you like doing the same, here are my local recommendations for the best coffee in Singapore.
Navigate this guide
Before we begin, I must stress that “Insider’s Guide” wasn’t added to the title as clickbait. I’m merely a coffee enthusiast, but my partner is a serious coffee geek. So serious, that he:
- Visits a coffee shop nearly every single day.
- Frequently gets discounts because he knows the crew (he has more barista and cafe owner friends than I have…friends.)
- Ends up talking to the crew about conical vs flat burr grinders, extraction yield, and other geeky stuff while I’m sitting alone here writing this post.
- Makes me his “drug mule” to bring in coffee beans when I travel.
- Has his own coffee brewing setup at home which I’m not allowed to touch (fine by me, as long as I get to drink the coffee!)
As a result, I hang out at both new and established specialty coffee shops and cafes in Singapore and this guide is regularly updated with my favorites. To make things more interesting for travelers, I’ve also included nearby attractions for each place so you can explore the city while knocking back espressos. Perfect if you gotta fight jet lag.
Nylon Coffee Roasters
One of the more reputed pioneers in Singapore’s specialty coffee scene, Nylon Coffee Roasters is hidden away in the gracefully aged Everton Park housing estate close to Chinatown. Their hole-in-the-wall nook opened in 2012 and has since expanded to occupy two units. It’s a relief since the shop is constantly packed with regulars in the neighborhood as well as curious travelers who have heard about Nylon through word of mouth.
You won’t find any food or fancy drinks here, just black or white espressos as well as various pourovers, depending on what the crew decides is best at bringing out the beans they have on hand. Dennis and Jia Min, Nylon’s founders, even take annual origin trips to South America to directly source their beans from coffee farms. This passion translates into…really good coffee.
My recommendation: Any of their pour-over coffees.
Things to do Nearby
- Walk over to Ji Xiang Confectionery at the next block and try the best ever ang ku kueh (“red tortoise cake”) traditional pastry.
- Maxwell Food Centre, home to the famous Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, also boasts several other tasty food stalls.
- Stroll down Keong Saik Road, admiring the Art Deco shophouses, and spend your day exploring Chinatown.
Tiong Hoe Specialty Coffee
With its displays of dusty vintage memorabilia and sacks of coffee beans piled in a corner, this place feels like a throwback to the sixties – which is only natural, since it’s when founder Mr Tan Tiong Hoe started his coffee roasting business. Today it’s a place where you can go full coffee nerd, with brews from an astounding range of globally sourced beans.
Walk Off the Caffeine
- Queenstown, Singapore’s oldest town, is home to cool urban architecture: curved HDB flats, colonial-era bungalows, mosques, churches, and temples. This map covers it all.
- Gillman Barracks is an old army barracks that has been converted into art galleries, with ongoing exhibitions and events.
- From Gillman Barracks, follow the Southern Ridges nature trail all the way to Mount Faber Park (and board a cable car to Sentosa if you like).
Chye Seng Huat Hardware
Housed in an old hardware store compound, CSHH is the flagship store of roaster Papa Palheta and houses a roastery, cafe, coffee bar, and workshop space. It’s a favorite among hip creativesbut beyond that, the coffee (and food) inarguably has substance to match the style.
- Little India will jolt your senses with crammed five-foot ways, pungent aromas (often guiding your nose to delicious stews), old curmudgeons, and the brain-scrambling 24-hour shopping mall that is Mustafa Centre.
- On the other hand, the Muslim quarter Kampong Glam (that’s “glum”) buzzes with its pedestrian alleys, hip new boutiques, Halal bistros and secret cocktail bars.
Dutch Colony Coffee
This lush cafe, with its shophouse setting and keen aesthetic, feels right at home in Singapore’s arts and heritage district. And since it’s one of the exploits of World Siphonist Champion + 3-time Singapore Barista Champion Ryan Tan, it’s got a winning menu to match. Recommended signatures include the Melbourne-born Magic, Corned Beef Scotch Egg, and any of their buttermilk waffles.
When You’re Fueled Up
- Go museum-hopping at the Singapore Art Museum, National Museum, and Peranakan Museum.
- Hit Bugis Street for cheap teenage fashions, souvenirs, and street food.
- Wind down with drinks or dinner at CHIJMES, a convent-turned-dining complex.
This lofty converted warehouse by the Singapore River is one of my favorite spots to work. Toby’s Estate Singapore was the Australian roaster’s first overseas outlet, and its congenial atmosphere – and reliably satisfying coffee – is hard to match. If you’re staying at one of the nearby hotels, this is a great spot for a leisurely brunch before strolling down.
When You’re Fueled Up
- Take a stroll downriver to Clarke Quay, Boat Quay, or even all the way to Marina Bay. Feeling lazy? There’s a river taxi stop just opposite Toby’s.
- At the hip neighborhood of Tiong Bahru, a 20-minute walk away, you’ll find indie record stores and bookstores, design boutiques, and more cafés.
What’s your favorite coffee shop in Singapore? Leave a comment and let me know where else you’d recommend!