Category Archives: Cafe

Mornings at Apartment Coffee

apartment1Have you not known about my obsession with all things white? My day-to-day wearables, the places I like to immerse myself in, my photo-editing style of always increasing exposure. For me, it is synonymous to cleanliness, to light, to minimalism. As opposed to the antonymous dirtiness, darkness and clutter. Three words that put my mind to unrest, that sometimes put me in fear.

apartment2In consistency with my white obsession, I therefore like daytime – mornings, especially. Mornings where the sun is unobstructed in a cloudless sea, where the most part of my room is naturally lit up through translucent curtains, where light and shadows are juxtaposed appropriately for a photo. Such mornings are days where I gain more drive and inspiration to live more fulfilling-ly (moment of shock as I realise that this word does not exist).

apartment4On such mornings, there are a few options:

  1. It is a typical work/school day, so I get on with the grind, albeit with more positivity
  2. It is my free day, so I admire the weather while reading/surfing/eating/doing absolutely nothing from the comfort of my nook
  3. It is my free day, so I put on a white outfit (preferably) and get to a café at its opening hour. That café should preferably have a nice white aesthetic.

Option 3 is my favourite. Interestingly, or dismally, it is also the least go-to option out of the 3 due to practical reasons. Which is why I cherish such option 3-mornings even more.

apartment3Recently, one of such mornings was spent at Apartment Coffee. It was my third time at the white-washed, minimally-themed coffee house since its opening in late 2018. On usual afternoons, the space is packed comfortably with customers and conversations spill across everywhere. All the more I have to be pressed to reach as early as possible, best if at 9am when the closed sign is flipped.

apartment9Like the previous two visits, I had perched myself on the wooden high stool for the coffee bar counter and called for my usual order of White. I am always fond of the smoothly textured milk + espresso here, though those who prefer very strong and robust flavours may not. One day I will get the filter. Oh, no takeaways here unless you bring your own tumbler.

apartment8Whilst waiting for my coffee, I would swoop up my phone and camera for a good round of photo-taking. This time a few people got caught in my photos, for I arrived an hour past 9.

apartment7Interior-wise, I dare say this space is my best-loved. The white walls, ceaseless coffee bar, brown wooden stools and tables and large windows put together remind me of Scandinavian design. Due to its location and windows, sunlight enters and leaves, creating brief moments of contrasting light and shadows that I so love to admire.

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The only bummer I experience here is sound – too much of it being resounded as more people stream in. And if only I could pair my cup of joe with a buttery, flaky pastry from Chye Seng Huat Coffee. Cherry on the cake. La cerise sur le gâteau.

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161 Lavender St, #01-12, Singapore 338750

9am – 6pm daily

Double Up Coffee

doubleup10Despite gloominess from that global health situation which I will not go on to elaborate on, the first quarter of 2020 has seen a pretty fair boom in new cafes in Singapore. This is after a lull in the previous 2 years that had more than slightly depleted my usual excitement in café-hopping.

doubleup9Opened last November without much fanfare is Double Up Coffee, located along Jalan Klapa in an enclave that houses several other well-known cafes. Just recently, it started to gain attention from social media postings.

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Reaching early on a weekday morning, I had the luxury of the entire space to myself. The non-air-conditioned porch of the café is decorated with a few potted plants, colorful chairs that emitted vibes of old school Singapore, and skateboards plastered with stickers and upcycled into tables which might be my favorite bit of the interior.

doubleup8 Stepping through the glass doors, I was first greeted by the concrete coffee counter, followed by another sitting area furnished with small stools and tables. The minimalist concrete-themed setting was predominant.

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doubleup1Small and simple, the menu is has 3 sections – Business (i.e. coffee), Pleasure (i.e. non-coffee) and Chow (i.e. pastries). Having always been more of an espresso person (vs. filter), I opted for the Spro with Soy Milk ($5.50), while my friend got herself the Iced Spro with Milk ($6). Spro here refers to espresso. Though my soy espresso was a tad limp, I loved the iced espresso with milk for its smoothness and non-acidic aftertaste. I later found out that beans here are sourced from Bearded Bella.

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doubleup4The sole pastry available that day was the Blueberry Crust ($5.50), which I thoroughly enjoyed for its lightness and flakiness.

doubleup12Rather than a comfortable spot to do “work from home” whilst sipping caffeine, I see this spot as one where I can hold light conversations and, from time to time, empty my mind and daydream.

7 Jalan Klapa, Singapore 199319

Wed – Mon 10am to 6pm

Understated Coffee, Seoul 언더스테이티드 커피, 서울

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Right from its queer location on a quiet street amongst old shop houses and buildings, Understated Coffee is not what you would quite expect from a regular café. Through its floor-to-ceiling glass windows, one can easily see from the outside the interiors of this quaint café. Of course, the white-washed and minimally furnished space played a huge role, but what really stood out to me were the exposed concrete portions, irregular lines and uneven surfaces.

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Turns out that the owner (and main barista) majored in architecture in France and having a major interest in coffee, decided to start a café back in his home country.

While deciding on the beans and coffee to get, the owner kindly explained to me all 3 types of beans that were on the menu. Despite his cool exterior, he was friendly and I could feel his passion in making good coffee. All 3 types of beans I saw that day were sourced overseas, and the main beans that are still constantly in use are those from Belleville Coffee in Paris.

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I got the White (5,000KRW) which I liked a lot. It had a fuller body than other coffees I’ve tried in Seoul while not being too acidic.

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When I went, the only available pastries were their plain butter Scones (3,500KRW), but recently they have launched them in more extravagant flavours, such as earl grey cream, tomato confit fromage and chocolate matcha. The plain scone I had was towards the savory side with a moderate density.

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Though there were 2 other inner rooms for patrons, I decided to take a seat on the round, uneven structure right in the middle, just to admire the slightly penetrating sunlight, the baristas at work, the irregularities of the cafe interiors and the stillness of the street.

1F, 69-1 Mallijaeyet-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea

12 to 7pm, Mon – Sat

And to Each Season, Gwangju 광주 카페 앤투잋시즌

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On that fine Monday afternoon, the city of Gwangju was oddly quiet. It was my first time stepping foot there, and I realized a little too late that I made a miscalculated move of visiting on a day when many cafes and stores in general were closed. Good thing, that one café I really wanted to visit was opened and my friend whom I went to see in Gwangju kindly brought me there.

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Situated in the café district of Yangnim-dong, And To Each Season opened in summer last year, a permanent spin-off from a design company cum café created by the owner to concentrate on serving coffee.

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Heading right in to the cozy nook of the café, the atmosphere was that of a tiny, snug cottage. I could tell that extra attention was put into the layout and details of the interior. Later, I found out that the furniture is mostly recycled, refurbished and mended by the owner from thrown out furniture… impressive.

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What also caught my eye was the ordering sheet for drinks. On a small piece not much larger than a name card, various options to customize your coffee are presented: First, pick your choice of beans from Brazil (Cerrado NY2), Guatemala (Antigua SHB) or Ethiopia (Yirgacheffe G1). Second, pick your caffeine intensity to be strong or basic. Third, cold or iced. And lastly, your type of coffee – Americano (5000KRW), Latte (5000KRW), or Deep Vanilla (5000KRW). The latte I got was very satisfiable, with the right amount of acidity and flavor I would like in my coffee.

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For non-coffee drinkers, Matcha (6000KRW) and seasonal fruit teas are also offered on the order sheet.

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Since the space was small and trapped sounds easily, I was more than delighted to have the entire café to ourselves, watching the stillness of the neighborhood from translucent white curtains that led in diffused sunlight. Perhaps visiting on a Monday was not such a bad idea after all.

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198-1 Yangnim-dong, Nam-gu, Gwangju, South Korea

12-6pm on weekdays, 12-9pm on weekends

[Johor Bahru] People and Places Cafe

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This semester break, I started venturing into Johor Bahru to café hop and I did wonder why I haven’t done this earlier, especially since a dish there can cost only up to a third of that in Singapore. Apart from the more common cafes, I went to this gem of a place most recently and in my head I’ve been deliberating whether to share it asap, or make a few more return trips first. But here I am starting to write just less than a week after my brunch and thus so it is that I am pretty bad at keeping such news to myself.

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Located in the industrial area near Taman Mount Austin is People and Places, a 2 months old café serving up Melbournian brunch and coffee. Having already seen pictures on Instagram, I knew what to expect. Everything from the 2-storey high ceiling to the concrete layout to the drapey plants and succulent furnishings completed the look of the industrial warehouse café theme. It reminded me so much of my laid back, café hopping days in Melbourne.

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To my coffee-drinking friends and readers, don’t skip the coffee here. I ordered the Mocha (RM10.5) for myself and was surprised by how smooth it was. The acidity level was also just right for me. I have not gone to many cafes in JB yet but so far, this was the best cup. The Matcha Latte (RM13) was legit as well with its distinct tones of matcha yet not leaving a powdery aftertaste.  

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Our main courses then came very promptly, and very prettily. I mean – look at those pink poached eggs of the Aussie’s Avo on Toast (RM25), which also came with mashed avocado, pomegranate, feta, dukkah and dried chili flakes served on dark rye bread. This was a simple and comforting dish and I loved the colours at play.  

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Call me basic as you wish, but I can never resist getting hotcakes if I spot them on the menu. The Melbourne’s Signature Hotcake (RM23) came in a portion smaller than what I expected, albeit with a price 1/3 of what I usually pay in Singapore/Melbourne. Though decent, the hotcake could be fluffier (note to self: shoot more quickly next time I’m here) and infused with more blueberries on the inside. I also thought that the pea sprout’s bitterness didn’t match the taste profile of the hotcake.

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And it turns out that our favorite was their Asian take on the quesadilla – the Quesadilla Breakie (RM25). What won us over was the smooth, creamy tomyam scrambled eggs paired with sriracha aioli sandwiched between tortilla sheets, exuding an authentic but not overpowering taste of tomyam. This felt like a refreshing breath of air amongst the old western brunch classics.  

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The prompt and friendly service here, short waiting time for food and drinks, and quality ingredients used here proves that this place is more than just an Instagram worthy café. It’s somewhere I would like to frequent, as it is for my usual haunts. Yes, I will be back for sure.  

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P.S. As of current, the exact address of the café is not on Grab/Uber so you might have to re-pin the location to elsewhere nearby, like the adjacent road.

People and Places Café

6, Jalan Kencana Emas 2/3, Perindustrian Tebrau III, Johor Bahru

Tel: +60 7 351 5303

Tue to Sun 10am – 6pm (Closed on Mon)

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