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Business Advice

Cuppa culture goes big and far

Indie coffee outlets are quickly becoming the talk of town
The Straits Times - December 23, 2011
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Cuppa culture goes big and far Mr Leon Foo opened cafe Papa Palheta in 2009. -- ST PHOTO: TERRENCE LIM

Singaporeans went crazy over bubble tea and milkshakes this year, but no F&B trend brewed up a storm quite like indie coffee boutiques.

At least 24 indie coffee outlets sprang up this year and their reach now extends from the Central Business District to the suburbs.

It is no longer enough for consumers to know the difference between a latte and a macchiato. Coffee drinkers now ask about the origins of the beans and the different brewing and roasting techniques.

These coffee joints have added a vibrancy to the coffee-drinking culture here. Not only do they provide a welcome alternative to commercial chains and kopitiams, but they also seek to educate consumers about the finer points of drinking and appreciating coffee.

One early player is Papa Palheta, which opened in Bukit Timah in 2009. Its founder, Mr Leon Foo, 29, opened another coffee joint called Loysel's Toy in Kampong Bugis this year.

He is known for his almost missionary zeal in promoting coffee appreciation in Singapore.

The company has launched C-PlatForm coffee workshops at its Bukit Timah premises, where coffee enthusiasts can sign up for classes to enhance their knowledge and coffee-making skills.

Likewise, Oriole cafe's managing director Keith Loh, 37, opened his third outlet, Oriole Coffee Roasters, in Chinatown early this month. It includes a training laboratory where regular coffee-tasting sessions are conducted for the public.

Coffee joint owners are not concerned that the market could become saturated.

Mr Foo says: 'There's more room to grow as more local coffee drinkers are switching to gourmet coffee.'

Coffee fans such as public relations consultant Karen Wee, 38, have embraced this trend. She gets her coffee fix from indie joints such as Smitten, Jewel Coffee and Loysel's Toy at least once a week.

She says: 'I don't go to chains such as Starbucks anymore now that more coffee boutiques have opened. It's all about who brews your coffee and the baristas at the indie joints are well-equipped to do so. If I make a lot of money, I'd go down to these outlets every day.'

 

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