Speciality coffee requires the best beans in the business, and cafes here have to go the extra mile to bring them in.
Mr Adrian Khong, founder and chief executive of Jewel Coffee, which just opened its 10th outlet at One Raffles Place last week, recently travelled to Colombia, Guatemala and El Salvador to source for new beans and understand how different coffee farms work.
Mr Khong, 48, imports high-quality beans from these countries and has them roasted in his 2,000 sq ft plant in Tuas.
Since opening his first shop at One Shenton Way in 2011, Jewel Coffee has garnered fans with its distinctive single-origin coffees and unique blends.
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He recalled: "When we first started, the biggest concern for us was to get acceptance from consumers for single-origin beans."
He opened at a time when consumers were more used to commercial coffee blends.
"We had to teach them if they wanted a latte, they could choose the beans - whether it's from a certain farm in El Salvador and such."
He said Jewel Coffee was the first in the market to offer single-origin beans for espressos, and today, its beans come from specific farms in top coffee-producing regions.
"Now when we buy from farms, the cost of beans goes down, so spending the same dollar gets us better-quality beans, or a better price on them," he said.
He predicted that demand for freshly roasted beans would continue to grow and said he is planning to double the size of his plant.
Mr Victor Mah, president of the Singapore Coffee Association, had previously told The Straits Times that consumption of higher-quality coffee has grown about 30 per cent year on year, as of December.
That is why Mr Khong said it is important for Jewel Coffee not only to source and roast its own beans, but also to apply a rigorous process for a more superior end product.
He said: "As a roaster, there are few parameters that determine how much heat and how long it is needed to be applied to the beans. The bigger and denser the bean means it requires more time for the heat to hit the core. We also check the moisture content to determine if the bean is old."
Jewel Coffee will be showcasing its freshly roasted beans at this year's Singapore Coffee Festival, which will be held from Aug 3 to 6 at Marina Bay Cruise Centre.
Other participating speciality cafes that focus on top-quality coffee include Oriole Coffee + Bar, which also roasts its beans in-house, and The Coastal Settlement.
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); two sessions daily from Aug 4 to 6, 10am to 3.30pm and 4.30pm to 10pm
ADMISSION: $22, $18 (DBS and POSB cardholders, and ST subscribers)
INFO: Go to www.sgcoffeefestival.com
Mr Khong stressed: "As a retailer, it's important for us to continually source for good coffee producers and farmers, and countries like Colombia have a lot to offer."
DBS Bank is the presenter of the Singapore Coffee Festival, which is organised by The Straits Times.
Aside from the 70 food and beverage vendors at the festival, there will be talks, workshops, live entertainment and more to keep festival-goers entertained.
The first day of the festival, Aug 3, has been set aside for trade and media. On other days - Aug 4 to 6 - there will be two sessions - brunch, from 10am to 3.30pm; and sundown, from 4.30pm to 10pm.
To add to the festive atmosphere, a fireworks display has been planned for the weekend - Aug 4 and 5 - at 8.45pm. The five-minute display, presented by Mapletree Investments, can be viewed from the oceanfront Sunrise Wharf at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre.
This is part of a string of activities lined up for the sundown sessions of the festival, to take full advantage of the venue's scenic setting, with activities taking place along the wharf with the Singapore skyline as a backdrop.
Correction note: An earlier version of the story referred to a spot to watch fireworks as Sunset Wharf. This is incorrect. It should be Sunrise Wharf.