Cafés that serve good coffee in Singapore
The purist edit
It's hard to put this delicately without offending a few groups of people. (Case in point: my colleague who sips on frappes with sweet foam on the regular is giving me the stink eye as I'm typing this out.) But for the better good of the coffee cognoscenti or the folks who care about where their beans come from, this snob list had to be done.
Visiting a café doesn't mean you are warranted a good cup of coffee in Singapore. It means you're floored with egg benedict options, epic toppings on your waffles and that illustrious brunch content for your weekly IG update. So what's the benchmark here? In my humble opinion, a well-balanced body, nailing the foam difference between a cap and a flat white, and last but never least, overall consistency that won't let you down even on your umpteenth visit.
Some cafés you go to for food, some you go for a decent cuppa. If the latter matters more to you, head to these spots below.
Equate's opening might have gentrified a storied complex in Tanjong Pagar, but that's well forgiven in the name of good coffee. In a bare stone-wall space, you can find affable baristas hard at work, churning out copious cups of coffee alongside delectable pastries like caneles and crossiants in collaboration with other local gems like Sugar Thieves.
If you're an Eastie, through and through, you would have already been to Neptune, or rather tried to get in. And while the long waitlist might deter you from checking out the newest cafe from Atlas Coffeehouse group, you can have better luck on weekdays instead. Because apart from their signature blends, they also serve up a good brunch and dinner, complete with desserts.
Maxi Coffee Bar
It's small, but oh it's mighty. That being said, we find a certain charm in Maxi's shack-like stop. Outdoor seats tend to be our favourite especially when that means you're sipping on a cuppa while planted in the quiet neighbourhood of Ann Siang Hill. They also serve a limited supply of Le Matin's highly favoured pastries — while stocks last.
Yet another minimalistic, clandestine coffee place, which boasts brightly lit Scandinavian-style interiors and fruity filtered coffee. In-house bakes are also snapped up pretty quickly, so make sure you get your hands on them before they're gone.
Bras Basah Complex #01-05, 231 Bain Street Singapore 180231 (Bugis MRT)
Opening Hours: 8.30am - 6pm (Mon - Fri), 10am - 6pm (Sat, Sun, PH)
7 Jalan Klapa
Opening Hours: 9am-5:30pm, closed Tues
Gather's the perfect place to head to if you're looking to update your Instagram feed. Their specialty is French-styled crepes, and their coffee proves to be on par with the grub. Bonus points for that Kinfolk colour palette.
Raffles Hotel Arcade #01-12, 328 North Bridge Road
Opening Hours: (Tues - Sat) 8am-10pm, (Sun, Mon) 8am-6pm
A small but inviting spot resides in Dunlop street, usually expertly managed by a one-man/one-woman show. Even then, service is akin to meeting an old friend. Just that in this case, this said old friend serves you a stellar cup every single time.
5 Dunlop Street, #01-00, Tel: 9069 4569
Opening hours: (Mon-Sat) 9am-6pm, (Sun) 9am-2pm
We know what you're thinking. This modern Sichuan restaurant dishes out good coffee? Yes, it was a harrowing find especially when we thought we had the coffee-to-cafe stigma all figured out. Clearly not. In fact the restaurant is owned by Good Wood Coffee, a famed cafe franchise in Chengdu. Which explains why the coffee (just avoid the bastardised ones) turned out to be a real pleasant surprise.
113 Amoy Street, Tel: 6221 7449
Opening hours: (Mon-Thurs) 10.30am-3pm, 5pm-11pm, (Fri-Sat) 10.30am-12am, (Sun) 10.30am-10pm
This cult-favourite brand might have originated from Hong Kong, but really blew up in Kyoto, Japan. Now, it has landed on our shores, with its first outlet housed in a minimalist 20-seater, bagging plans to open in Chip Bee Gardens as well as [email protected] If you're lucky enough to get a seat inside, go for the hot cuppa. If not, they do a mean iced white to brace the scorching heat outside.
56 Arab St, Tel: 6291 3887
If you don't look close enough, you might mistake this quaint spot for a furniture crafts store. Well, the half of it is, but the other is where you can procure a cup of mid-day magic. Post-caffeine hit, you may even peruse the curated selects of handcrafted textiles, ceramics and jewellery. There's a good chance you might leave the store spending more than you intended to.
756 North Bridge Rd, Tel: 6413 3981
Opening hours: (Tues-Fri) 9am-5.30pm, (Sat) 10.30am-6pm, Closed on Sun and Mon
Everything is minimal here. No decadent brunch platters or flashing neon signs, which works out when you're an instant babe magnet for folks who just love their coffee. But aesthetics aside, this light-filled loft churns out fantastic service and quality cups of coffee. Go on, we dare you to dislike it.
161 Lavender St, #01-12
Opening hours: 9am-6pm
OUE Downtown is handsomely clad with a slew of coffee joints, but Lunar won our hearts with a single five-ounce. Considering the influx of white-collared workers come peak hour, we're not the only ones.
6 Shenton Way, #01-49/50 OUE Downtown Gallery 2, Tel: 6224 4500
Opening hours: (Mon-Fri) 8am-7pm, (Sat) 9am-3pm
You might have seen the Homeground brand being extracted into one of your coffees at selected cafes like Percolate, but now they have their own flagship. The moody space resembles a mini art gallery with a long aisle adorned with paintings and photographs on the walls. Make sure to try their house brews when you're there — we heard they recently clinched an award for the Singapore's National Brewers Cup Champion 2019.
475 Joo Chiat Road, Tel: 9027 2665
Opening hours: (Mon-Fri) 8am-5pm, (Sat-Sun) 9am-6pm
This beautiful space hidden in the glorious Chijmes is rooted on light-filled windows, the right amount of foliage and bangin' cups of coffee.
30 Victoria St, Chijmes #01-03
Opening hours: (Mon-Fri) 8am-5pm, (Sat-Sun) 9am-6pm
At Percolate, it always feels like home. The neighbourhood gem (Easties be proud) unveils an inviting café with attentive staff, simple grub and quality cups of coffee procured from local and international roasters.
136 Bedok North Ave 3 #01-152, Tel: 8259 0316
Opening hours: (Mon-Fri) 10.30am-9.30pm, (Sat-Sun) 9am-9.30pm
Touted as one of the pioneer coffee roasters since the third wave landed in Singapore, always expect a quality cup albeit the lack of seating and hearty brunch options. It's clear as day that you come to Nylon for a solid cup and nothing else. Did we also mention that they stock up on sustainable straws?
4 Everton Park, #01-40, Tel: 6220 2330
Opening hours: (Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri) 8.30am-5.30pm, (Sat-Sun) 9am-6pm
The Singapore outpost of Kurasu (which helms from Kyoto) is as cool and understated as you would imagine it to be. Its new home at Waterloo Street sees an inviting space, replete with cosy couches and granite floors. On the coffee menu, you can also get a solid cuppa stemmed from Kyoto beans — whether that might be a flat white or pour-over.
261 Waterloo St
Opening hours: 8.30am-6.30pm
Whether you're a coffee purist or not, Papa Palheta's café should be a renowned name amongst many. You either fancy its old industrial aesthetic, collective crowd or even its occasional music collabs. But if our city had an academy to where your induction to coffee should begin, this place sounds about right.
150 Tyrwhitt Rd, Tel: 6396 0609
Opening hours: (Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sun) 9am-10pm, (Fri-Sat) 9am-12am