Contest winners get caffeine boost at Singapore Coffee Festival's cafe-hopping trail

Participants sample coffee at Caffe Vergnano on June 17, 2017.
Participants sample coffee at Caffe Vergnano on June 17, 2017. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - The perky aroma of coffee was in the air as 10 coffee enthusiasts sipped and savoured the java at a cafe-hopping trail organised by the Singapore Coffee Festival on June 17.

Participants learnt about the delicate art of brewing coffee from baristas and coffee roasters at five cafes which will be participating in the festival.

The cafes are Chye Seng Huat Hardware in Tyrwhitt Road, Jewel Coffee in GSH Plaza in Cecil Street, Caffe Vergnano 1882 in South Beach Avenue, Hyde & Co in North Bridge Road and Common Man Coffee Roasters in Martin Road.

In its second edition, the Singapore Coffee Festival, which is organised by The Straits Times and presented by DBS Bank, will be held from August 3 to 6 at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre. Coffee lovers can expect a robust line-up of more than 60 exhibitors, including coffee purveyors, equipment distributors and cafes at the event.

Participants on the cafe-hopping trail were selected through a contest that was held last month. They bought early-bird tickets to the festival, which were available from May 5 to June 11, and posted their favourite cuppa memories and top-down photos of cups of coffee on their Instagram accounts with the hashtags #sgcoffeefest and #scf17cafehop.

Besides getting their caffeine kick, participants interacted with baristas, who shared about the coffee-producing regions and varieties of coffee around the world. They also mingled with Kiss92FM DJ Desiree Lai, who joined the trail.

At homegrown coffee purveyor Chye Seng Huat Hardware, which houses its own roastery, participants had a behind-the-scenes look at how Thippanahalli beans from India were roasted. The company's head of wholesale Adryll Lin, 34, shared details about the evolution of the beans and its aroma.

Participant Jeffrey Qu, 49, a director of an e-commerce company, said: "It is fascinating to observe the scientific process of roasting the beans, such as how the temperature of the drum roaster affects the taste of a brew."

At Jewel Coffee, participants tried their hand at cupping, a coffee-tasting technique, to evaluate the aroma and flavours of beans from Brazil, Ethiopia and Indonesia. Head roaster Cheng Shin Hao, 40, also delved into the tasting notes of the various coffee brews.

Another participant, Mr Kelvin Khoo, 45, an insurance agent, said: "It is eye-opening to see that coffee, like wine, can be dissected into many aspects, from its scent to the finishing taste."

At Italian coffee chain Caffe Vergnano 1882 in South Beach Avenue, Italy's rich coffee history took centre stage. Participants sipped on three quintessential beverages that are found in coffeehouses throughout the country: espresso, cioccolata (hot chocolate) and bicerin (espresso, hot chocolate topped with whipped cream).

Financial consultant Ms Renga Naidu, 59, learnt how to concoct a coffee cocktail made with espresso, vodka, coconut milk, Earl Grey tea and milk from barista Mark Long, 26.

"It is fun to be a bartender for a day," she said. "I hope to experiment with more interesting ingredients on top of the usual gin and raspberry syrup that I've added to my coffee."

After a quick pit-stop at Hyde & Co, the trail ended with a visit to Common Man Coffee Roasters in Martin Road, where participants delved into the intricacies of brewing a flat white, which is made of espresso and milk. Head trainer Lucky Salvador, 29, demonstrated latte art, creating tulip and swan designs.

Information technology consultant Angela Lee, who is in her 40s, who tried her hand at latte art, said: "This cafe-hopping trail showcased a good progression of how a cuppa is made, from roasting the beans to serving a brew. I have a better appreciation of coffee culture."

BOOK IT / SINGAPORE COFFEE FESTIVAL

WHERE: Marina Bay Cruise Centre, 61 Marina Coastal Drive

WHEN: Aug 3 (for trade and media only, register at www.sgcoffeefestival.com); Aug 4 to 6, 10am to 3.30pm, 4.30 to 10pm daily

ADMISSION: $22, $18 (DBS and POSB cardholders, ST subscribers, or group of four or more)

INFO: Go to www.sgcoffeefestival.com or e-mail sgcoffeefest@sph.com.sg