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Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Hey remember when people use to go to coffee shops to hang out and chat? I know you do, the TV show Friends was based entirely on this premise. Apparently I missed the memo when this all changed. I was in the US with my father in law about a year ago and looking for somewhere to kill an hour or two before his flight. We stopped into an old favorite coffee shop of mine and promptly found glaring eyes from the freelancers who had made the establishment their office for the day when we opened our mouths to converse.

Oops.

Perhaps this is why coffee shops have become so ubiquitous. With more people working remotely, the need for alternative work places is high.

In Singapore, the everywhere-ness of coffee is no different with these “third spaces” used for everything from alternative offices to short meeting spaces. And like most things in Singapore, you also get the east vs west mix. Options for your coffee range from 8 SGD venti Starbuck drinks to the more traditional $1.50 kopi from your favorite stall.

I’m not sure how many kopi stalls and shops there are in Singapore but in case you were wondering how many Starbucks there are in Singapore, the answer is 100. Give or take any that have open/shut in the past month or two.

How do I know this? Well I stopped in one the other day and saw this sign advertising daily celebrations at their 100th location at Fullerton Water Boat House.

100th Starbucks Celebration Invite

100th Starbucks Celebration Invite

Although I know how ubiquitous Starbucks is, I still found it a shock to have so many on an island that runs about 25km (15 mi) running north-south and 48.2km (30 mi) running east-west, or 716 sq km (that’s 276 sq mi).

And while this isn’t more Starbucks than the company’s hometown of Seattle (142) or the most Starbuck ridden city Seoul (284), Singapore is still a country with a Starbucks every 7.1 km (2.7 sq mi). Seems a bit excessive, but then again, if the market can bare it, who am I to speculate?

Add in dots for Uncle Kopi, independent coffee shops and the rest, and you’ve got one highly caffeinated city-state.

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The first time I saw this, I giggled.

Coffee cup carrying case

Seriously? You have added a plastic piece to turn my beverage into a carrying case? They do this almost everywhere in Singapore. You order a juice, a coffee, from just about everywhere unless it’s an American chain and you get this flimsy appendage as a bonus.

Because it’s too difficult to carry a cup?

“Hey don’t knock it until you’ve tried it,” my inner voice tells me.

I tried to order my coffee without it once, but I’m not sure what it’s called and the lady behind the counter didn’t understand me and just thought I was weird.

I’ve progressed. I now ignore it instead of immediately ripping it off, but it still just seems like extra trash destined for a landfill to me.

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My interior designer friend, Kylie, tipped me off to this place. She had left London and was curious to how the design turned out. The answer is lovely, sleek and spacious featuring communal long tables, marble and fountains.

I’ve been before, but somehow seem to forget about it amongst all the other bakeries and eateries in Soho. I needed to grab a coffee and jot down some notes last Wednesday when all of a sudden it sprang to mind.

I entered and was confronted by what felt like miles and miles of amazing pastries and cakes, then pizzas, pastas and salads. I was in serious dilemma over what to order. I’m not kidding- it took me a good 10 minutes to decide where to spend my calories.

I think I chose well.

Princi, 135 Wardour Street, London, W1F 0UT
Telephone +44 (0)20 7478 8888,
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 08.00-00.00 Sun 08.30-22.00

Breakfast available — 08.00 to 11.00
Weekends — 08.00 to 12.00
Apperitivo — 17:00 to 19:00

Princi on Urbanspoon

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I was aching for something cultural and Blair was restless in her painting studio, so we decided to meet up at the Tate Modern to see their permanent collection.

I love modern art museums, but any museum can be a serious marathon. Floor 3 with the surrealists is manageable, but by the time I’m at the Rothkos, I am shifting my weight from leg to leg and adjusting my typically massive bag from one shoulder to the next. This is when we decided we were in serious need of some caffeine and a snack if we were to continue. We headed to the 7th floor restaurant where the views were amazing and the atmosphere stylish.

Restaurant View

Blair, excited for her cake.

Unfortunately, that’s about the only good thing I could say about the restaurant that day. We had really been looking forward to the cake and coffee. The server brought the wrong coffee, and when we did get the right one, it used real milk instead of the soy we had ordered. It was delicious, but I was concerned for anyone lactose intolerant. Then the cake came out. The carrot cake was spicy with a nice cream cheese icing, but the coffee cake was not at all like I had imagined. The sugar was overly intense. I had to scrape all the icing off in order to enjoy any bit of it. Even then I had a hard time tasting the coffee flavours through the sugar. The worst disappoint was that the chocolate covered espresso bean on top wasn’t an espresso bean at all. It was overly sugared espresso bean shaped chocolate. I guess they assume their clientele REALLY like sugar.

The selection

Oh well, I guess everyone has an off day?

Don’t order the coffee cake.

The good thing was that we had the sudden boost of energy we needed to continue on with the museum. We managed to squeeze in the Diane Arbus room right before closing. That is something I can recommend.

The Tate Modern Restaurant is open Sunday – Thursday, 10.00–17.30 and Friday – Saturday, 10.00–21.30

ARTIST ROOMS: Diane Arbus runs until March 31, 2012

Tate Modern Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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People love Sacred. Time Out recommends it, my coworker recommends it, random stranger on the street recommends it, so I decide to try it.

Sacred plays on it’s name as a place of worship. The barista is set up on a pulpit and the congregation spills out onto the street at it’s Soho location near Carnaby Street. This makes it a very nice place to hang out on a sunny day soaking up the rays or people watching, on your lunch break, or in-between shopping.

A customer approaches the pulpit.

Sacred offers plenty of sandwiches and pastries. It’s run by New Zealanders who sell things like  jelly lolly cake. My experiences at Sacred and the Roastery are causing me to wonder what exactly is the deal with antipodeans and London coffee shops. Two coffee shops in a row- is this a chance thing or are NZ natives really into their coffee hangouts? I think I’m going to have to make a trip to New Zealand to get to the bottom of this. Either that or call up a friend and ask. The former option seems more dramatic and fun.

Scrambled eggs with wholewheat toast.

I had scrambled eggs with feta and spring onion on wholewheat toast and an Americano. This set me back between £8 and £9. Quite a bit for what is basically an egg sandwich and regular coffee. It took about 20 minutes to get my eggs and coffee, even though there weren’t many in the congregation that morning. In their defense, it was early morning so there were probably a lot of unseen to go orders and I think one of the baristas was training. Also, the coffee was very good.

Empty early morning.

Coffee!

Sacred on Urbanspoon

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789 Wandsworth Rd
Lambeth SW8 3JQ

020 7498 5630

Has anybody noticed the glut of car repair shops over in Wandsworth? It seems there’s an entire row of them. I took the car to Wandsworth to have the oil changed. The man told me it would take an hour and a half. The hour and a half ended up being three and a half hours. I stopped into The Roastery in North Clapham to kill some time and manage the extreme appetite I had not initially planned for.

The sign outside promised brunch and coffee good enough for a Clapham coffee snob. The small cafe is fun and welcoming with free wifi and really great music. The barista was friendly as she let me down gently. Brunch is only served Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Panic, then acceptance. “Well, what is that girl in the corner eating?”

The barista pointed to the most lovely looking bagel sandwiches. She described what was in them but all I heard through my hunger was “deliciousness, deliciousness, deliciousness.” Context clues told me that one was vegetarian and one was smoked salmon.

“Great, I’ll take that one. And one of these baked goods? Afghan cookie made with cocoa and cornflakes? Yes, please. Oh and a Latte.” I was fully aware that my eyes were much bigger than my stomach but I was beyond any notions of self control.

I found a seat and relaxed into it. No telling how long the car was going to take at this point, but this was a place I could happily chill at for a while.

Afghan Biscuit

Interesting enough, Afghan biscuits are not from Afghanistan at all. They are a traditional New Zealand treat. The menu and condiments at the Roastery subtly incorporate  the owners’ Antipodean heritage.

 

Latte served with brownie treat

Bagel sandwich

The barista brought out sample Spirulina smoothies to try. The other patron looked at the glass of bright green with curiosity but I dove right in to the algae laced drink. The sweetness of banana overpowered any flavor that might be mistaken as slightly too healthy. I slurped up my tasty and refreshing smoothie while eyeing the price board. For more than £4 a smoothie I hope it is a large serving size.

Afghan biscuit + bagel sandwich + latte = £8. A little pricey for Clapham, but for a cozy place with wifi and friendly staff, I would definitely come back.

The Roastery on Urbanspoon

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