You know what’s one of my must-dos when planning a trip to any city? Find coffee joints to visit.
Like Sprudge writer Joanna Han says, “all coffee enthusiasts know that the ideal way to explore a new city is through its coffee shops.” I’m not ashamed to admit it: I like my drug as fine-quality as possible, and usually I manage to find at least one good coffee in each city.
Thing is, I’m more likely to visit a coffee joint if I know what else is around for me to explore. Thus this post was born: I’ve listed five of Singapore’s best roasters here, but also included nearby attractions for each – so you can plan your itinerary around the serious caffeine buzz you’ll need to walk off.
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).
Nylon Coffee Roasters
Parked in the gracefully aged Everton Park housing estate, this 5-year-old pioneer in Singapore’s specialty coffee scene offers no food, no fancy espressos (just black or white), and nearly no seating. But Team Nylon (as they call themselves) satisfies the coffee cravings of a daily stream of regulars and curious tourists. Be prepared for random conversations about politics, the cost of living, and where to find the best laksa.
Explore the Area
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
Have you been to other coffee houses around Singapore that you really enjoyed? Leave a comment to me know where else I should recommend!