Delicious pick me ups and gentle on your wallet at under $5 – the coffee at these 9 cafes checks all the right boxes.
OLD HEN COFFEE BAR
Established in mid-2014, this coffee bar has an unassuming facade, but its open-concept interior is the perfect retreat for recharging over an espresso ($3). The seasonal blend of globally sourced beans has a well-balanced flavour of fruits and nuts that’s gentle on the palate.
Feeling indulgent? The prized Cold Brew ($6.50) is soothing and easy on the palate even for non-coffee enthusiasts. You won’t even realize you just had three shots of espresso!
88 Rangoon Road, tel: 6341-5458, www.oldhencoffee.com
BRAWN & BRAINS
Choose between the house blend of green coffee beans or single-origin beans, both of which are self-sourced, imported from Central America and personally roasted by owner Xavier Teo. We tried their espresso ($2.50), which has a well balanced acidity and bitterness – it’s the go-to option for true coffee lovers! Word of caution: This cafe is not easy to locate and is very small (at maximum capacity, it seats only about 14).
Feeling indulgent? Opt for the less intense flat white ($3.50), which is more forgiving for non-coffee drinkers without compromising on the oomph factor.
#01-07, 100 Guillemard Road, tel: 6348-8892, www.brawnandbrains.sg
Highlander is one of the pioneer coffee bars in Singapore, having been around for more than 10 years. Yet, it’s managed to keep its prices friendly. Try the perfectly extracted espresso ($3.50) or sip on iced black coffee ($4,) – perfect after the 10-minute walk from Outram Park MRT. Monthly gourmet coffee-appreciation workshops are also available.
Feeling indulgent? The iced mocha ($5.50) is the perfect cup to down when you need a quick refresh.
49 Kampong Bahru Road, tel: 6223-7102, www.highlandercoffee.com
You won’t miss the words “sexy coffee” printed in bright orange on the awning. The Hangar roasts its coffee beans in-house – check the hand-scrawled sheet on the counter for an in-depth description of the various blends and choose your preferred one. If you need a wake-me-up, the smooth latte ($5) or double ristretto ($4) will do the trick.
Feeling indulgent? Take a swig of Freeze My Marbles ($9) – the frozen blend of coffee and vanilla is super-sweet and especially satisfying on hot days!
25 Arab Street, tel: 6291-0127, www.thehangar.com.sg
You can’t go to Ronin and not order coffee – you’ll be surprised to find that the dim lights and dark-wood-outfitted space actually put you in the mood to take it down a notch, kick back and relax over a fragrant cup of joe. The cappuccino ($4.20) is well balanced, while the regular mocha ($4.20) is sweet, smooth and incredibly easy to drink.
Feeling indulgent? Satiate your sweet tooth with a cup of refreshing Mint Mocha ($4.50, right), which packs a minty punch and loads of chocolate.
17 Hongkong Street, http://ronin.sg
YELLOW CUP COFFEE
Prices may be slightly higher here, but for good reason – the double shots of espresso (for all drinks) are dispensed from a $30,000 La Marzocco Strada Espresso Machine that gives the barista absolute control over the pressure needed for a perfect brew. The espresso ($4) is served in a shot glass to show off the thick crèma (the brownish foam that forms the topmost layer) – supposedly a sign of good espresso. The baristas can also do cute foam art on your latte ($5) – just ask nicely.
Feeling indulgent? We loved the Hawaiian Latte ($6.80), which is sweetened with generous doses of coconut, hazelnut and vanilla syrups.
#01-09 Central Square, 20 Havelock Road, www.yellowcupcoffee.com
It prides itself on authenticity: The Lokal roasts its own beans (from Sarnies cafe), and rotates its coffee blends every weekend. We love the espresso ($4) brewed from the Fuzzy Wuzzy, a medium bodied roast with notes of caramel and chocolate. Do also try the easy-to-drink cappuccino ($5), or the piccolo ($4.50), which is one part coffee and two parts milk.
Feeling indulgent? Go for the Chai Latte ($6) – the barista reveals that the drink is so popular, it’s sold out by the afternoon!
136 Neil Road, tel: 6423-9918, www.thelokalsingapore.com
Artistry may have earned its reputation as a great weekend hang-out spot because of its decent and affordable food, but the coffee isn’t to be sniffed at either. For a much-needed extra kick (to pull through that after-lunch food coma), go for the espresso ($3.50), which awakes all our senses with its spicy aroma.
Feeling indulgent? The hot chocolate ($7), seemingly unimpressive at first glance, is actually perfectly balanced and goes down like a dream.
17 Jalan Pinang, tel: 6298-2420, www.artistryspace.com
This outlet at Quayside Isle on Sentosa is popular for its Instagram-worthy brunch sets, but it also serves great coffee. Its house blend is a full-bodied roast with chocolate notes and a hint of bitter aftertaste. We’d gladly make the journey there (and pay the island’s admission fee) just to be able to while away an afternoon by the marina, sipping latte ($4.50) or cappuccino ($4.50).
Feeling indulgent? Get the iced mocha ($7), topped with an optional scoop of French Vanilla Gelato ($1). Heaven!
#01-08 Quayside Isle, 31 Ocean Way, tel: 6734-9007, www.kith.com.sg
By Smita Wee and Sonja Cher, Her World, April 2015