Singapore is often considered to be the perfect blend between the east and the west. The city’s kopitiam culture may be one of the best representation of this.
Even the word kopitiam itself demonstrates the cultural amalgamation Singapore has witnessed over the years: kopi means coffee in Malay, and tiam means shop in Hokkien and Fujianese.
Though the art of ordering kopi (coffee) in Singapore dates back centuries, the city’s thriving coffee scene today serves as a reminder of what makes Singapore’s history so rich and diverse.
My first time in Singapore, I had just 24 hours to see the city, was jet lagged from flying via Helsinki, and in desperate need of caffeine.
I’d done my usual ‘cafes in city’ search, but had a hard time finding many near the key bits I planned to cram into a day.
And so, I resorted to Starbucks.
My second time in Sing, I came prepared.
Best places for brew in Singapore?
Five Places for Ace Coffee in Singapore
- % Arabica: Nearly screamed when I realised a location of my one of my favourite coffee shops in the world had opened in Singapore. I had % Arabica for the first time in Japan years ago, and couldn’t get over how great it was. A flat white or latte here is a must
- Symmetry: Another ace cafe/restaurant in Kampong Glam, I’ve only had the flat white here, but the food menu looked great as well
- Free the Robot: Once, in Chinatown in the middle of an especially hot, humid afternoon, I found myself at Free the Robot in need of a cool drink and caffeine pick-me-up. This air-conditioned cafe is a great spot for both- their cold brew is strong, and there’s usually a cute dog hanging around (bonus!)
- Common Man: Brunch here rules, as does the nitro cold brew. And, imagine my delight when it was served to me in a pint glass (!!!). This cafe is so cool (both in trendy decor, and strong air conditioning), you’ll find it hard to leave. But, if you do, you can walk to the next stop on this list- along the way, you’ll cross the colorful art bridge
- Friends Cafe: Okay, maybe not the best coffee per se in Singapore, but the most fun. Confession, I didn’t watch Friends until four years ago. And now, I’ve seen the series several times. Newly minted fan that I am, when I found out there was a Friends cafe in Singapore with all-day episodes, set furniture and huge mugs of coffee, I was all over it. Best part? Hardly anyone else there on a mid-week afternoon
Because my time in Sing always seems to be limited, I haven’t made it to these spots personally, but they’ve come highly recommended from friends who live in the city or have also visited- Nylon Coffee Roasters, Afterglow, PPP, and Dutch Coffee Company.
And, for something cool and refreshing at any traditional cafe or restaurant in the city, ask for a kopi peng (a coffee with condensed milk and ice).
Not a fan of coffee, but looking for a cool treat?
Enter: Cheese tea.
Cheese tea may not have originated in Singapore, but it sure is popular in the city.
Cheese tea?!, you ask. Yes, cheese tea.
More accurately, cheese foam.
In actuality, it’s foam made of cream cheese and milk, topped with salt.
The first time I tried it, I had it with green tea and wasn’t a huge fan. The next two times, I had it with a fruit tea and a milky tea, and wow– what a difference the cheese saltiness makes in balancing sweet or creamy flavours. Now, it’s one of my favourite Asian treats to order.
Three Places to Try Cheese Tea in Singapore:
- ParTea: My least favourite on this list, the benefit to coming here is that you can find ParTea’s in major malls (they’re an Asian chain), and they have a variety of teas on offer, so you can mix and match flavours to your preference
- Hey Tea: A chain that specialises in fruit teas, their cheese foam topping is excellent. Big fan of the strawberry and melon cheese teas, and love the location in Clarke Quay for its colorful surroundings
- Coffee Break Cafe: The promise of taro kaya toast is what originally brought me to Coffee Break, but when I saw hojicha milk tea with cheese foam on the menu, I knew I had to have it. You’ll find this place on the upper floor of a hawker centre, (be sure to bring cash)
Have you ever been to Singapore? Would you add any cafes to this list?
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