If you’re wandering around Singapore on the weekend, one favourite way Singaporeans like to escape the heat is to pop into one of the many hipster cafes that have been sprung up all over Singapore. We love our kopitiams but sometimes you just want a cute and preferably air-conditioned cafe to sit down and chill out in. I don’t get out that much and I’m not much of a coffee drinker myself, so I asked my readers to tell me about their favourite cafes in Singapore and compiled this list for you.
Thanks to all my readers who contributed and also to Skyscanner Singapore who gave away CafeFest tickets to 2 lucky winners.
Cafes in Central Singapore
These hip spots are closer to the tourist attractions and downtown area, a perfect place to chill after a long day of sightseeing.
Ronin’s menu is small but precise – come here for good Genovese coffee or their signature mochas, and a sandwich or eggs on toast to go along with. This coffee joint was one of the more popular recommendations among my readers, who praised its ‘consistently good coffee and smiley service crew’, and many liked the chill out ambience as well.
Ronin: 17 Hong Kong Street [Clarke Quay area]
The coffee from Toby’s Estate is regarded by many of my readers as one of the best, and the beans come from a finca or coffee plantation in Chiriqui, Panama, not far from Boquete where I tasted Geisha Coffee, some of the most expensive coffee in the world. While there is only one cafe in Singapore, Toby’s Estate Coffee is served by many establishments all around Singapore, and even as far as Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Sri Lanka. My readers also recommend the pulled pork burger if you need to grab a bite.
Toby’s Estate: 8 Rodyk Street, #01-03/04 [Robertson Quay area]
Artistry calls itself a hybrid gallery and cafe, and indeed its walls are adorned with many artworks that you can actually purchase if you take a fancy to them. This cafe also actively supports local musicians who can often be found performing here in the evenings – sit outdoors if the weather is cool enough in the evenings. It’s located right next to some of the Ernest Zacharevic’s street art works along Victoria Street, which makes for a nice way to digest your meal after you are done. My readers recommend the red velvet cakes for dessert, though I personally loved the chocolate peanut butter cake.
Artistry: 17 Jalan Pinang [Bugis/Kampong Glam area]
Nylon Coffee Roasters
“Great coffee” is a common refrain I’ve heard from most people who have visited Nylon Coffee Roasters. It’s not quite a proper cafe – think of it more as a no-frills place for the coffee lover to get their fix, not particularly a place to while away a long day in. Hidden in the housing estate of Everton Park on the outskirts of Chinatown, you can find some cool heritage murals nearby and some lovely traditional shophouses, it’s a much quieter but no less interesting area than downtown Chinatown.
Nylon Coffee Roasters: 4 Everton Park Road #01-04 [Outram area]
I AM Cafe
If I AM makes you think of Amsterdam’s tourism campaign, you’re on the right track – that’s exactly what you’ll find in this cafe with some Dutch-inspired dishes like Bitterballen and french fries with mayonnaise. Located at the end of hipster Haji Lane (not the side where everyone is taking pix with this Jabaone mural), this halal cafe always long queues of people waiting to pop into I AM Cafe in Kampong Glam.
I AM Cafe: 674 North Bridge Road [Kampong Glam / Bugis area]
Cafes in the Heartland
These cafes are located in heartland residential areas and not your typical tourist zones. Still, distance never stopped a true blue cafe-loving Singaporean from visiting – in fact some cafes are popular because of their unusual locations.
A popular ice cream cafe located in one of Singapore’s older public housing estates, Creamier offers up some delectable homemade ice cream and are famous for their waffles. I like to pop by when I’m in the area and pick up pints of the Orange Milk Chocolate when it is available. Weekdays are best to visit because this place gets super packed on the weekends.
Nearby: Macritchie Reservoir Park is great for an outdoorsy time, and one of Singapore’s iconic heritage playgrounds shaped like a dragon can also be found here.
Creamier :128 Toa Payoh Lorong 1 #01-835 [Toa Payoh area]
This cafe located along Upper Thomson Road is not the easiest to get to by public transport as there’s no nearby MRT yet ( They’re building it as we speak), but the journey here is made worthwhile by the coffee which has pretty rave ratings all around. They have quite a wide selection of food, but if you just want to pop in for dessert, there are plenty of other food options along this Upper Thomson stretch.
Habitat Coffee: 223 Upper Thomson Road [Thomson area]
HATTER STREET BAKEHOUSE AND CAFE
You can tell straight off from the name that this Alice in Wonderland inspired cafe has some quirky desserts in its menu. Their desserts are quite instagram-worthy like the Unicorn Whoaffle. They have a second branch now at Jalan Sultan if you rather not make the trip all the way to Hougang just for their desserts.
Hatter Street Bakehouse and Cafe: Blk 212 Hougang Street 21 #01-333 [Hougang area]
CHOCK FULL OF BEANS
This cafe is located in the far flung eastern corner of Changi Village, very close to the airport. They are well known for their 3D latte art, but you have to be prepared to do a little bit of waiting if the cafe is crowded. Perfect place to hang out if you are staying at the Village Hotel Changi.
Chock Full Of Beans: Blk 4 Changi Village Road #01-2090 [Changi Village Area]
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 – the rootbeer cake is divine. There is another branch in Serangoon Gardens near Chomp Chomp Food Centre as well.
Wimbly Lu: 15-2 Jalan Riang [Serangoon/Braddell area]
Visiting Cafefest 2014
So 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 and meet my prize winners. Overall I thought 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 P 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!