If you’re wandering around Singapore on the weekend, one favourite way to escape the heat is to pop into one of the many myriad cafes that have been springing up all over Singapore. Cafes were once the mainstay of the hipster crowd looking to see and be seen, but these days you can find just about anyone in a cafe looking for a nice place to chill out.
The folks at Skyscanner Singapore kindly offered me and my readers some tickets to check out the inaugural CafeFest Singapore, which brought together 12 popular Singaporean cafes together in a 2-day festival with music and games to boot! I held a little giveaway for my readers asking about their favourite cafes in Singapore, here are some of their recommendations which I thought I’d compile and share with everyone else.
A quick note that I haven’t been to most of these places myself, so I’m gonna have to do a little exploring sometime soon! Also, I am not a coffee drinker at all so I can’t give you any personal feedback on some of these coffee, but I can give you an opinion based on what my friends are raving about!
Downtown hip areas where people like to congregate and hang out on a weekend, these places are where you see and be seen, and an easy place for you to take a quick break at before going shopping or checking out the downtown area.
17 Hong Kong Street (Clarke Quay area)
This coffee joint was one of the more popular recommendations from my readers. “Consistently good coffee and smiley service crew“, says nigochu. Another reader Khai Yuan meanwhile liked the ambiance and how you had the option of sitting at communal tables or smaller high-seat tables. Be warned that the data connection is apparently weak here, but as Khai Yuan puts it quite optimistically, “no distraction and a good place to have some alone time!“. It also doesn’t seem to have a website or social media pages, so no pix unfortunately, but check out the Yelp reviews here.
8 Rodyk Street, #01-03/04 (Robertson Quay area)
Another of reader Khai Yuan’s favourite places because of its great coffee, it’s easy to see that he’s not the only one who thinks so because when I was at CafeFest, Toby’s Estate had one of the longest queues throughout the day! My friend P gave their coffee the thumbs up, but sadly passed up on the pulled pork sandwich which according to various comments I’ve seen, is quite delectable.
17 Jalan Pinang (Bugis area)
Reader Brian proclaims that the “red velvets coupled with their friendly atmosphere always make my day complete!”. I like the ambiance of the place and it’s pretty nice to chill in the outdoor area when the weather is good. What’s also great is their support of local musicians who often hold gigs here, and also nearby are Ernest Zacharevic’s street art which you can check out while digesting your meal.
NYLON COFFEE ROASTERS
4 Everton Park Road #01-04 (Outram area)
Closed on Tuesdays
“Great coffee” says my other giveaway winner Andre gives it his stamp of approval for great coffee, which is a common refrain I’ve heard from most people who visit. It’s not quite a proper cafe – more for the coffee lover who takes their brews seriously and want to stand around with other coffee lovers, don’t expect to lounge your day away in this cafe!
I AM CAFE
674 North Bridge Road (Kampong Glam / Bugis area)
Closed on 1st/3rd Mondays of the month
“Nice ambiance, good coffee, generous portion of food, and my favourite red velvet cake” says ja3cywong. It’s pretty new but well located in one of my favourite parts of Singapore, Kampong Glam, close to hipster shopping street Haji Lane. They were also at CafeFest but I didn’t manage to check them out much.
These cafes are located in heartland residential areas, and most easily visited by people who live around them so not as convenient for visitors to Singapore. Still, distance has never stopped a true blue cafe-loving Singaporean from getting there, and if you have a little more time to spare and some inkling to explore how Singaporeans live, here are some places to check out.
128 Toa Payoh Lorong 1 #01-835
Closed on Mondays
A popular ice cream cafe located in one of Singapore’s older public housing estates, the lucky people near the Toa Payoh area like Chris How get to enjoy their great homemade ice cream and famous waffles right in their neighbourhood. I’ve heard so many good things about them, this is definitely top of my list to check out!
223 Upper Thomson Road
Closed on Mondays
Reader Amanda Lua loves to hang out with her friends at this cafe located along Thomson Road. It’s not the easiest to get to as there’s no nearby MRT, but there’s lots of good food along this stretch of road, so make it a proper food expedition and then pop in here right at the end to chill out after you’re stuffed!
HATTER STREET BAKEHOUSE AND CAFE
Blk 212 Hougang Street 21 #01-333
Closed on Mondays
“Quirky cafe and mouth watering desserts” says my reader Eunice, and you know things are a little different at this cafe just from the rather colourful get-ups the folk manning their CafeFest booth were wearing! This Alice in Wonderland inspired cafe did have some pretty interesting looking cakes and desserts on display, so definitely for those who like to have some fun with their food.
CHOCK FULL OF BEANS
Blk 4 Changi Village Road #01-2090
Reader and giveaway winner Debbie loves the “whimsical 3D latte art” and there are lots of amazing examples on their facebook page. It might be worth your while to venture to this far, far eastern end of Singapore just to check it out!
15-2 Jalan Riang (Serangoon area)
Closed on Mondays
This place is hidden quite far inside a private housing estate so it’s not the easiest place to get to without a car – speaking of which, look for the classic VW Beetle that’s perpetually parked outside this shop! The oddly named Wimbly Lu specializes in chocolates and has some really delectable sweets for sale, including this rootbeer cake dessert above. They recently opened another small branch in Serangoon Gardens, which is marginally easier to get to!
So this last Saturday, I popped down to the Waterfront Promenade at the Marina Bay Sands area to check out this inaugural 2-day festival with the Skyscanner folk. Overall I think CafeFest was a great concept, bringing 12 popular but scattered cafes to 1 central area so people can try their food. However, the ticket bit (pre-fest tix cost from $20-30 depending) seemed a little bit redundant as the event was open to public (not exclusive as they initially claimed) and the discounts for ticket holders weren’t very significant ($0.50 – $1 on average). Also, they didn’t seem to know or have any news about ticket perks like the Uber rides, so their organization could use quite a bit of work. This post should give you an idea what’s happening on the CafeFest social media pages now (i.e. not good at all!)
Updated 14 Sep 2014: In case you’re one the poor folk trying to seek compensation for the tix, just know that it’s turning into a bit of a fiasco! Stay tuned to the CafeFest FB page for the updates on that
My friend P also pointed out that it was pretty hard to eat that much anyway because honestly, how much coffee/cakes can you consume at a go? Some ideas we thought might be awesome would be to sell sample sized portions for $1 each so you could really try everything if you wanted to, give some spending credits for ticket holders and much better discounts of at least 50% to make the pre-sales worthwhile. Our killer idea? Have an awesome $12-for-12-coffee-shots sampler set exclusively for pass holders (anyone want to hire us for your next event? :P)
Still, if you didn’t bother with tickets and aren’t involved in the current brouhaha, you would probably have had a pretty fun experience just hanging out on the boardwalk with a plethora of food and drink choices and enjoying some of the activities like music performances from the Spotify pavilion or the random ping-pong tables by Fred Perry.
The CafeFest tix for this giveaway and my own visit were courtesy of Skyscanner Singapore, much thanks to the lovely Pamela for arranging everything and being such a cool chick to hang out with at CafeFest. Follow Skyscanner on Twitter or Facebook for the best flight deals and travel inspiration!