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To some people, coffee is like a hug in a mug. It fuels them throughout the day. And, for me, it’s a little more than just a caffeine boost. My love for coffee started years back, when I took a sip out of a cuppa from Nylon Coffee Roasters - one of the best cafés in Singapore. Their 5oz white brew is the epitome of good coffee - robust, creamy and perfectly balanced. Before that, I never knew coffee could taste so good without sugar. As it is often said – good coffee doesn’t need cream or sugar and that is indeed the truth.
I was on a hunt recently for east side cafés in Singapore and that brought me to Jewel Changi Airport. While a shopping mall is not exactly the kind of place where you’ll go just to seek out great coffee, I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few hidden gems within Jewel! I’ve hand-picked some of my favourites to share with you, and perhaps the next time you find yourself wandering in Jewel, you could try these hipster cafés for yourselves!
1. Starbucks Reserve
Okay, hold on – don't you click ‘X’ just yet and hear me out. Unlike other Starbucks outlets, the Jewel outlet is one out of the five Starbucks Reserve™ stores in Singapore where you can take up a masterclass with their coffee masters at the Reserve Experience Bar. From brewing techniques to learning how to savour your choice of brew, this is a great opportunity for you to get acquainted with the world of coffee.
The Jewel outlet also has an exclusive Starbucks Reserve™ menu, one that you can’t find at a regular Starbucks cafe. Featuring an impressive four-tap nitro bar, pick your poison from six nitrogen-infused beverages such as the Nitro Flat White and Nitro Caramel Macchiato. If you’re wondering what’s the hype around nitrogen-infused beverages, it’s a technique where the beverages are infused with nitrogen as it pours from the tap, creating microbubbles that give them a cascading, frothy texture. The end result is a velvety-smooth drink with a creamy head of foam. Next time you’re looking for the nearest Starbucks, go a little further and try the creations from the Starbucks Reserves™ store in Jewel.
Must-try: If you’re a creature of habit like me, go for the Nitro Flat White – a twist to the classic white brew. Otherwise, the Smoked Butterscotch Latte is another popular choice, brewed from the signature Starbucks Reserves™ espresso and topped with smoked butterscotch sauce.
Ratings: 3.8/5 for coffee, 4/5 for ambience (the Jewel outlet is a duplex store, spacious with a modern design – perfect for a book or two).
Location: Jewel Changi Airport, #02-204
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday – 10:00am to 9:00pm, Friday to Sunday – 10:00am to 10:00pm
2. Mellower Coffee
I stumbled upon Mellower Coffee during one of my family outings to the Changi Experience Studio. It was four in the afternoon and my energy was almost depleted from a day of chasing after a toddler. So when I saw the café, I knew I'd lucked out. While waiting for my hot Café Latte (S$6.50), I had a chat with the barista and found out that the brand originated from China. The menu also offers some interesting coffee concoctions such as the Iced Ondeh X Latte (S$9.80), an espresso-based beverage infused with pandan essence, coconut cream and topped with coconut flakes. Because these drinks are so aesthetically-pleasing, be sure to snap a photo or two with your digital cameras for the feed! For those of you who prefer something a tad stronger, the barista recommended the Iced Bailey Misu (S$9.80) – yes, a coffee cocktail with Bailey's liqueur! Talk about creativity!
For the serious coffee drinkers, I strongly recommend trying out their range of filter brews (S$9) available hot or iced. They have a plethora of single origin beans on their menu. So, talk to the barista to find out what suits your palate. There are various methods of brewing such as the V60 or Chemex. Personally, I prefer the V60 as it produces a more complex cup, while the Chemex produces a cleaner cup that strips away some of the underlying notes of the beans. If you have any of the pour-over equipment at home, you can also buy a bag of their beans and enjoy the brewing process at home!
Must-try: Feeling adventurous? Try the Ondeh X Latte. Or if you just need a cuppa to calm your soul, go for any of their single origin filter brews.
Ratings: 4.2/5 for coffee, 3.5/5 for ambience
Location: Jewel Changi Airport, #04-231/232
Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday – 12:00pm to 8:00pm, Friday, Saturday, Eve of PH & PH – 12:00pm to 9:00pm
3. JW360° Café
This is probably one of my favourite cafés in Jewel. I’ve always loved Japanese kissaten (coffee shop) ever since my visit to Café de L’ambre in Tokyo. Japanese coffee is somehow more robust, perhaps because the beans are usually roasted a bit darker. Something unique on JW360° 's menu is their Japanese Latte series – the Buckwheat Latte (S$7.80) made from buckwheat tea leaf from Nagano, and Amazake Latte (S$8.80) made from fermented rice.
My husband loves their Matcha Latte (S$8.80), which comes in both hot and iced versions. The matcha powder used is sourced directly from Kyoto, Japan which ensures its quality. Especially now that travelling to Japan seems like a faraway dream, a sip of the Matcha Latte does bring me back to the quaint city of Kyoto, albeit for a fleeting moment.
After you’re done at the café, pop over next door to JW360° Nonomo retail corner to shop for snacks, noodles, sake – all imported from Japan to bring home with you. Wondering what is good to eat at Jewel? I highly recommend a visit to JW360° Suju Masayuki. They serve a good selection of Teishoku 定食 (Japanese set meal) that will bring you right back to Japan.
Must-try: Go for their classic hot Café Latte (S$6.80) and pair it with the Matcha Opera Cake (S$8) or Matcha Milk Gelato (S$4 per scoop). This bittersweet combo will definitely leave you wanting more.
Ratings: 4.5/5 for coffee, 4/5 for ambience
Location: Jewel Changi Airport, #01-223/224/225
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday – 11:30am to 9:00pm, Friday to Sunday, Eve of PH & PH – 11:30am to 10:00pm
The folks behind Coffee@Works are the same people behind Korean-based brands Paris Baguette and Maison de PB. With only one outlet in Singapore, Coffee@Works offers both espresso-based coffee as well as filter brews. Their beans are sourced from countries like Brazil, Columbia and Ethiopia, and are roasted in their headquarters' roastery in Korea.
During one of my visits to the café in Jewel, I tried their brewed coffee using the V60 pour-over (S$8.50) which uses single origin beans from Sidamo, Ethiopia, grown at one of the highest altitudes in Ethiopia. I’ve always been a fan of Ethiopian beans because of its floral and fruity notes, and it often produces an intensely aromatic cup that is elegant yet complex - delicious.
Their best-selling coffee is the Vanilla Bean Cream Latte (S$7.90) which is Café Latte topped with thick and rich vanilla cream made from real vanilla beans. Definitely a hit for those with a sweet tooth! With all that coffee-drinking, make sure you stay hydrated with your water bottles while on the quest for the best cuppa.
Must-try: 100% the single origin coffee using the V60 pour-over method. Have a chat with the barista to find out more about the taste profile of the beans as they may change seasonally. The barista’s choice is their Caramel Vanilla Latte (S$7.90) which is essentially their Vanilla Bean Cream Latte, but with a hint of sweet caramel.
Ratings: 4.5/5 for coffee, 3.5/5 for ambience
Location: Jewel Changi Airport, #02-237
Opening hours: Monday to Friday – 11:00am to 8:00pm, Saturday and Sunday, Eve of PH & PH – 11:00am to 9:00pm
5. % Arabica Coffee
% Arabica Coffee probably needs no introduction. Originating from Kyoto, Japan, this coffee chain has now expanded to various parts of the world. I first had a taste of % Arabica Coffee during one of my trips to Arashiyama in Kyoto. I didn’t have to look too hard for the store as the long line of people queuing led me to it. And I could understand the hype – the coffee was exquisite and the view which overlooked the historic Togetsukyo Bridge was simply stunning. Easily one of the most instagrammable cafés ever!
So, when I heard that they are opening in Singapore, I jumped for joy. Being an Eastie, the café in Jewel made it extremely convenient for me to grab a cuppa whenever I want to relive my memories of Japan. Other than coffee, they also sell a range of single origin beans and blends which are roasted in their private roastery in Singapore. My favourite is their single origin Columbia Villa Rosita (S$27 for 200g) medium body and soft acidity with a hint of raspberry jam. Prices for their beans are on the high side, but I'll say that life is too short for bad coffee.
Must-try: Café Latte using the Arabica blend – full bodied with a chocolatey flavour. If you prefer a sweet touch, you can try their Spanish Latte which has a tinge of condensed milk.
Ratings: 4.5/5 for coffee, 3.5/5 for ambience
Location: Jewel Changi Airport, #01-K208
Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday – 11:00am to 8:00pm, Friday and Saturday – 11:00am to 9:00pm
6. O’Coffee Club
O’Coffee Club has been around for a very long time (since 1991 to be exact!), so you probably would have heard of them. The name itself brings back a lot of memories for me as their flagship store at Holland Village was one of my favourite hang outs after school. Their iced blended beverages were my favourites then, but as the coffee joint grew more sophisticated (and so did I). Their gourmet coffee became my regular go-to whenever I visit the café now!
For brewed coffee, this café in the east offers various types of brew methods – V60, French Press, Chemex and the Syphon. The Syphon is probably one of the most exciting ways to brew coffee and it makes you feel as if you’re in a chemistry class. It’s not easy to explain how it’s done. If you’re curious, I suggest you head over to O’Coffee Club. I believe it’s the only café in Jewel where you can experience the Syphon brew.
The difference in brewing methods yield very different cups of coffee but of course, the choice of beans matters too. Have a chat with the baristas to find out what suits your taste buds before deciding!
Must-try: The Syphon brew using the Ethiopia Yirgacheffe beans (S$9.90). Aromatic with just the right amount of acidity. Yums!
Ratings: 4/5 for coffee, 3.5/5 for ambience
Location: Jewel Changi Airport, #03-216/218
Opening hours: Open daily from 10:00am to 9:00pm
7. Café Amazon
Café Amazon is where you need to be if you’re looking for something beyond the usual coffee menu. The café has their own roasting plant back in Thailand where the brand originated. Apart from the usual espresso-based beverages, this café in the east is known for its signature Thai Pandan series – the Iced Bai-toey Coffee Latte (S$6.50) and Coconut Bai-toey Frappe (S$7). Bai-toey being pandan in Thai.
Another best-seller on their menu is the Coffee Marble (S$7) – iced milk coffee topped with coffee jelly made from their very own Amazon Blend. When I tried this for the first time, it felt very much like drinking bubble tea! If you enjoy bubble tea (like I do), you’ll love the Coffee Marble.
You’ll also find other interesting options on the menu such as the Honey Lime Black Coffee (super refreshing! - S$6), and the Iced Yin Yang (S$6.50) which is exclusive to Singapore and their take on our Yuan Yang (coffee with tea)! This joint is one of the east side cafés worth spending your Saturday mornings at.
Must-try: Iced Yin Yang – a combination of Matcha Latte with the Amazon Blend espresso shot. One of the best renditions of the Yuan Yangs I’ve tried so far!
Ratings: 4/5 for coffee, 3.5/5 for ambience
Location: Jewel Changi Airport, #04-225
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday – 12:00pm to 7:00pm, Friday to Sunday – 10:00am to 9:00pm
Bonus: Learn how to brew at home!
When I visit a café these days, I only order espresso-based coffee because this is something I can’t make on my own at home (although I do wish to own a La Marzocco coffee machine). My interest in brewing started years ago, way before filter brews were a thing in Singapore. It’s such a therapeutic experience and a routine start to my mornings. The best thing is, it costs only about S$1.25 per cup (excluding the initial set up costs) - cheaper than Kopi in some kopitiams (local coffee shops). To set some context, the filter brews at most cafés are priced between S$7 to S$10. So, if you always have a keen interest in coffee, perhaps you could explore brewing at home!
Initial set up
To brew coffee at home, you’ll need to have some equipment. As a beginner, you’ll want something easy to navigate and not too expensive. You can consider the Timemore C2 Pour-over set. What is not included in this set is a weighing scale which you’ll need to get separately. But otherwise, you’re good to go with this set. Other brands in the market for consideration would be Hario and Porlax.
The best beans for filter brews are single origin beans. Beans roasted for filter brews are usually medium roast and not too dark so that the taste profile can permeate through the brewing process. Different regions produce different taste profiles so it’s a matter of trial and error to see what suits your liking. The World Atlas of Coffee is a great book for you to find out more about bean to cup, and everything you’ll need to know about brewing and the origins of your beans. Some of my favourite places to grab beans from are Nylon Coffee Roasters, Common Man Coffee Roasters, % Arabica, Round Boy Roasters, Papa Palheta and Mellower Coffee.
How to brew?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a fixed formula because it all depends on how you like your brew. But for a start, here’s what you need to know:
15g of beans for one serving, or more if you wish
Amount of water needed would be about 16x the grammage of beans. E.g. For a 15g serving, the amount of water needed will be 240ml. This amount can be reduced or increased, depending on whether you like the resulting coffee.
Grind size – medium sized grinds using a hand grinder. If you are using the Timemore hand grinder, you can adjust the grind size by turning the adjustable knob. Again, the grind size can increase or decrease depending on how you like the coffee. When you purchase your hand grinder, check with them and they will be able to advise you on how to operate it and suitable grind size for your brew.
As for the brewing process, check out this step-by-step guide. If you’re starting out, you can follow the guide closely. But when you’re more or less used to the brewing process, you can then start experimenting with different beans, grind size etc. I had a lot of fun when I was learning how to brew, so I do hope you will too!
Coffee tasting is subjective to the tastebuds – very much like wine. But regardless of your preference, you can definitely find something you like in these hidden gems in Jewel. Venturing out of the east? Check out these Instagram-worthy cafés in Singapore for your next café-hopping adventure!
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