Thursday, December 07, 2017

Specialty coffee journey :)

Chye Seng Huat Hardware (CSHH)

Well, it is never too old to learn something new in life! In fact lifelong learning is applicable to everyone and what you learn can be anything that interest you. As for me, I found the specialty coffee interest in less than 2 months ago when my cousin brought her parents and myself to experience another level of coffee brewed products at Chye Seng Huat Hardware (CSHH).

The Roastery at CSHH (Pic source: CSHH website)

C-Platform Island Bar at CSHH (Pic source: CSHH website)

The Annex retail shop - CSHH Singapore

There, I experienced visiting the cafe that houses the Roastery, Coffee Bar, and C-platform, giving a unique experience to see how coffee was being roasted and prepared, plus the Annex coffee retail therapy shop where you could find different types of coffee products, accessories, and equipment.

"My mother told me to choose my coffee wisely" - CSHH

As per advised above, we tried 3 different types of specialty coffee there.

Latte - CSHH

1. Latte - the common drink that people usually order (or otherwise Cappuccino) - at SGD $5.50 per cup. The taste, foam texture and decoration was very good although it did not offer much significant thing compare with other types of coffee we ordered.

Cold Brew Black - CSHH

2. The Cold Brew (bottled) - Black at SGD $7 per bottle. Looked more like bottled cough syrup, I found this rather unique as they prepared and sold it readily over the counter and brewed it daily. And the taste was so much fruity and nice. It was not like the bitter coffee that you would usually have in your mind when it regarded to coffee.

Nitro coffee on tap from CSHH - Anyone??? ;)

3. Cold Brew Nitro Black Matter (coffee on tap) at SGD $7 per glass.

Cold Brew Nitro on Tap from CSHH

And this was how it looked like. Does it "WOW" you by its look??? And with the way how it was being produced (by using Nitrogen), it looked very much like beer on tap, wasn't it??

I was feeling overwhelmingly impressive when tried the last two items that we ordered that day. Like I mentioned earlier, the bottled cold brew tasted so fruity. I could not believe that it was coffee. It was resembling very much like fruity tea.

I found the price they charged was fine as it offered good coffee plus the unique taste and experience. Only that the location was a little bit hard to reach (we came by taxi that day), but the visit was definitely worth it.

Ombe Kofie in Pluit - Jakarta, Indonesia (Pic source: Manual Jakarta)

Then, about two weeks ago when I went back to my hometown in Jakarta, I finally visited Ombe Kofie - a small cafe located not too far away from where I stayed, very cosy, tidy, clean, and I felt very homey.

Jason Leo - the man behind the Ombe Kofie (Pic source: Ombe Kofie Instagram)

I'd seen the photos taken by my high school friends who visited this place very often, and heard a lot about it. It was just that in the beginning I was not really understand why people loved going there.

Regular White with complimentary Kue Rintak (Bangka's specialty) and nuts from Ombe Kofie

My knowledge about specialty coffee on my first visit there was totally zero. So I found that a cup of Regular White coffee cost at SGD $4.5 was pretty expensive for a living standard of average Indonesian. But to be honest, I fell in love with the cosy feeling the place had.

Homey feeling blended nicely with my sleeping clothes :P - Ombe Kofie Pluit, Jakarta

At that point of time I was enjoying the decor very much. And it made me thinking, why wouldn't I create one place like this? You did not have to spend much to have such decor - just wooden furniture, peranakan style tiles, indoor plants, comfy pillows and some sofa. But you need good and workable coffee machine and its accessories (which does not come cheap), plus someone who knew how to make a good coffee. Hahaha... So after visiting the two places above, I was thinking of learning how to prepare the specialty coffee when I came back to Singapore.

Main waiting area at Bettr Barista Coffee Academy

I searched online the WSQ (Workforce Skill Qualification) course related to coffee and I found one called WSQ Specialty Coffee Course from Bettr Barista. I chose the WSQ course because I'd received a letter earlier on from the Workfare Singapore that I was eligible for 95% subsidy for any WTS-eligible training courses, which valid only until 31 Dec 2017. And as Singaporean above 25 years old, I was given SGD $500 training grant yearly from the Skill Future Credit. The grant had be given since January 2016 to encourage individual ownership of skill development and lifelong learning. For this course, after the 95% subsidy and $500 grant, basically I paid nothing. And I was available for the training period given for that course. So, why not???

Nice coffee and banana cake for the morning break - Bettr Barista Coffee Academy

So I finally attended the 2-day classes plus one hour practical exam held on the third day. Oh my!!! I felt very grateful attending this course because I have learned so much about the specialty coffee. Although I learned hospitality industry for my diploma, the lesson regarding the specialty coffee was not exist during that period of time. What we learned was more on the commercial coffee (those regular coffee served in restaurant after having meals, where we only had to press the preset buttons on the coffee machine - no calibration required, no coffee bean grinding - only coffee powder was used, and so on).

Part of the notes content - Bettr Barista Coffee Academy

In Bettr Barista Coffee Academy I learned many basic things about coffee. On day 1 we learned more about theory starting from the history of coffee, coffee cherry, harvesting, processing, roast profile, brewing, coffee characteristics, elements of brewing, how to brew coffee with different coffee methods, how to store coffee, and so on.

Steeping / Full Immersion brewing method using Clever - Bettr Barista Coffee Academy

How training was conducted inside the class - Bettr Barista Coffee Academy

Other coffee brewing devices - Bettr Barista Coffee Academy

We also had practical hands-on experience using different brewing equipment such as:  Clever and French Press. The teacher showed us how to brew using the Aeropress as well. Coffee-to-water ratio, grind size, brewing method, brewing equipment, water, and filter medium were the brewing elements required to produce a good, consistent cup of coffee.

Espresso station set up - Equipment and tools the Barista used everyday - Bettr Barista Coffee Academy

On day 2 I learned more on practical such as: setting up the station, preparing Espresso (knowing its parameters, understanding extraction, etc.), preparing Cappuccino and Latte including how to steam the milk and build the right type and level of foam for both beverages. There, I overcame my fear of using the steam wand and holding the milk jug when heating the milk.

With my training mate - Bettr Barista Coffee Academy

I also gained knowledge about the different name of equipment and tools in the Espresso station setup, parts in the coffee machine and doser grinder. We were taught how to calibrate, adjusting the  grind size of coffee bean so it could fall at the right Espresso parameter required (within 20-30 secs to yield 25-35 ml per shot). It was quite challenging though and wasted lots of coffee while calibrating. That's why each cup of specialty coffee was charged exorbitantly!!!

Standard Espresso drinks - Bettr Barista Coffee Academy

From the class I also had a better understanding the difference between Americano and Long Black; Espresso and Ristretto; and the difference among Cappuccino, Cafe Latte, Piccolo Latte, and Flat White, and so on. So from then onward I would be able to know what I order when I visit a specialty coffee cafe. And I would try many other espresso beverages other than Cappuccino :)

Beautiful Latte art - Bettr Barista Coffee Academy

Well, within 2 days don't expect me to produce such a beautiful latte art as per above picture. Hahaha... I even encountered problem during exam today when pouring the steamed milk into my Espresso cup :D Latte art was not included inside the course content. If you are interested to learn that, you may apply the 2-hour Barista lab course to hone that skill. There are many more other courses available and you can check their website if you are interested to know more about it.

For me this was a good skill and knowledge to learn and applicable to daily basis use. The next time I visit specialty coffee cafe, I would have higher expectation from the coffee that I paid and other extraordinary experience from the coffee.

The world largest Starbucks opened on 6 December in Shanghai, China (Pic source: Qz.com)

Yesterday China just opened the world largest Starbucks in Shanghai.

"Located in Shanghai, the new outlet measures 30,000 square feet (2,787 square meters) and is called the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai. It’s the company’s second such Roastery, with the first launching in Seattle in 2014. The Roastery stores mark the company’s attempt to move upscale and add variety to its existing chain.

The Shanghai store, which is twice the size of the Seattle Roastery, will offer coffee beans from over 30 countries that can be roasted on premise and then enjoyed by customers. Some of the beans are from China, like the Yunnan Reserve blend, which will be available only at the store. It will also include three bars where baristas prepare coffee in a variety of different ways (pour over, Chemex, Siphon, Clover), and pastries from Princi, a bakery with outlets in Milan and London." - Source: Qz.com

China, which used to have more traditional old generation tea drinkers, has attracted the younger (more wealthy) generation to change the habit into drinking the upscale specialty coffee like what Starbucks offered. Time has changed. Clocks keep ticking. We have to move on with the new trend and adapt to it. 

Live the life of your dream :) (Pic source: Google.com)

This new interest (visiting specialty coffee cafe) would be the add on to-do-list the next time I visit other countries - to see how far they have developed their interest in offering the specialty coffee cafe experience and to feel their unique difference. And who knows one day I can make my dream into the reality?? :)
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