“Adventure in life is good; consistency in coffee even better.”
― Justina Chen, North of Beautiful
Backed by figures as the most popular stimulant in the world, approximately 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed daily. This obsession has showed no signs of decreasing in the last several years with the practices of brewing, mixing or enjoying the drip process spreading slowly but surely across all corners of the world.
The steep rise of coffee consumption in Asia has led to an influx of hipster cafes decked with Synesso machines popping up in virtually every corner of every city in the region. Couple this with local renditions from Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia as well as Japan and Korea’s own brewing methods, and what we have is a whole lot of coffee consumed – in a whole lot of ways – throughout the region.
The rest of this article will take Singapore as an example to highlight the coffee explosion in the region. To put things into perspective, caffeineinformer.com pegs Singaporeans as the 36th highest consumers of coffee totalling 2.3kg of beans per capita in 2013 alone (this figure has presumably risen in the last three3 years).
What might not be of common knowledge to many is that most of the new cafes we see actually celebrate what is known across the industry and among enthusiasts as third wave coffee. The term basically refers to brew that is seen as artisanal rather than a commodity – paying particular attention to origin, manufacturing and the likes. In short, what has always been seen as a necessary stimulant hit to fuel one’s day or endure the commute to work has now trickled down (pun intended) into the foray of art.
Coffee – or rather – the café experience in Singapore has become more of an institution than a quick pick-me-up.
The likes of big players Papa Palheta have taken the city by storm, dishing out what the public wants. They roast their own beans on their premises and even have a successful school that teaches baristas to take their extraction, frothing and grinding techniques to the next level.
Beards, checked shirts, city road cycles, and tattoos all set in a converted warehouse aside, the hipster café trend on our island has very little to do with contrived (or otherwise) cultural sub-sets and more to do with instagramable (it will become a word!) breakfasts on a Saturday morning.
From Pacamara, Chye Seng Huat and the boutique NYLON to Oriole, Singapore’s coffee scene has Gen –Ys whipping out their phone cameras at an unprecedented rate, clicking on upload and publish faster that one can say, ‘single origin skinny soy latte with one sugar – to go’.
When Singapore does something, it seems to ‘go big or go home’ – and no one is leaving this caffeine charged party in a hurry.