About 20,000 people throng Singapore Coffee Festival over 4-day event

Queues formed early for popular food items at the Singapore Coffee Festival on Sunday (Aug 6).
Queues formed early for popular food items at the Singapore Coffee Festival on Sunday (Aug 6). ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Visitor participate in a coffee degustation session on the last day of the Coffee Festival.
Visitor participate in a coffee degustation session on the last day of the Coffee Festival.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Straits Times artists Lee Chee Chew (in blue) and Miel add on to a drawing by a coffee festival visitor on Aug 6, 2017.
Straits Times artists Lee Chee Chew (in blue) and Miel add on to a drawing by a coffee festival visitor on Aug 6, 2017.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Straits Times artists Lee Chee Chew (second from right) and Miel add on to a drawing by Evelyn Woo on Aug 6, 2017.
Straits Times artists Lee Chee Chew (second from right) and Miel add on to a drawing by Evelyn Woo on Aug 6, 2017.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE -  About 20,000 coffee fiends got their fix over the four-day festival, with exhibitors reporting brisk sales on Sunday (Aug 6).

Online coffee retailer Perk sold about 200 litres of cold brew coffee over the four days of the festival. 

"We had to get an extra delivery made yesterday, and our coffee pods and single serve drip coffee packets have also been selling fast," said owner Paul Berthelsen. 

IT engineer Juhi Dubey, 34, said that her first visit to Coffee Fest will not be her last. "I love coffee so this has been a wonderful experience, I've discovered cafes that I hadn't heard of before. I've had five cups already, I'm high on coffee." 

Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez said: "It's been a great weekend, filled with some good coffee, food, music and conversation for all. Many participants I met said they enjoyed themselves, the vendors did brisk business and the sponsors seemed pleased as  well. We promised that this year's event would be bigger and better, and most people I met agreed it was. So all in, a good outcome for us at The Straits Times, and every reason for us to look forward to next year."

Ms Fiona Chan, head of group strategy and analytics at Singapore Press Holdings, said: "ST organised this festival because we wanted to celebrate seriously good coffee in a fun and enjoyable setting. By any measure, the event has been a huge success, most of all because of the thousands of visitors who keep telling us what a good time they are having and posting their amazing photos on Instagram and Facebook. We also really want to thank all our hard-working and talented exhibitors, many of whom have repeatedly sold out of their offerings and are already asking us about next year's festival."

Restaurant Antoinette experienced brisk business, with people waiting in line earlier in the day for up to an hour for its coffee-roasted pork chop buns, said its sales and marketing manager, who gave her name as Ms Wong. 

Response has been so overwhelming for the item, created specially for the coffee festival, that the restaurant is planning to introduce it as a weekend item at its restaurants soon, she said. 

A repeat participant at Singapore Coffee Festival, Antoinette has seen a doubling in sales this year, with up to 2,000 buns sold over the four days, said Ms Wong, though she declined to reveal figures. 

Hattendo was left with just 100 cream muffins after the brunch session, and has made about $3,000 in sales a day, said Hattendo Singapore chief executive Daisuke Ishioka. 

"We prepared more than 1,000 every day, and every day it has sold out. We're selling more than we expected to," he said. 

The session kicked off with a talk moderated by ST business correspondent Chia Yan Min, where Common Man Coffee Roasters general manager Matthew McLauhlan, Refinery Concepts chief operating officer Brian Stampe and DBS Institutional Banking Group's managing director Mok Kum Thong shared tips for aspiring cafe owners. 

Mr Mohit Sharma, 31, and his wife Yuliya Badalaba, 28, attended the talk and found it useful as they plan to open their own cafe some day. 

"We're coffee lovers but it's important to learn about the business aspect," said Mr Sharma, who works for a tech startup. 

Student Ryan Er said he planned to attend the 6.30pm panel discussion with speakers who made a mid-career change to join the cafe industry, hosted by ST deputy Life editor Wong Ah Yoke. 

"I'm hoping to get some useful information because I want to become a barista, and work as one part-time when I go to study overseas in a few months," he said. 

Other events in the afternoon session include a leather craft workshop and a demonstration on how to make the perfect flat white by Common Man Coffee Roasters. 

Sales associate Jon Tang, who joined the queue of over 50 people that had formed at The Coffee Academics booth by 5pm, said he wanted to try the coffee-filled ice cream cone after seeing posts about it on social media. 

"I hope it's worth the wait... there are lots of things I want to try here," said Mr Tang, 29. 

Earlier in the day, as soon as the doors opened at the venue, queues formed at Antoinette's booth for its popular savoury item, as well as another festival favourite, the Cream Muffin by Hattendo.

Sunday is the last day of the four-day event, organised by The Straits Times and presented by DBS Bank.

The scene on Sunday morning was bustling, with crowds making their way through the more than 90 exhibitors including coffee purveyors, cafes and equipment suppliers.

Homemaker Eunice Yeo was already in the queue with her family for coffee samples at Hook Coffee at 10.10am. “We like our coffee so we’re always curious to try more from different cafes.”

For every ticket purchased, festival goers receive two sampling tickets. By noon on Sunday, popular cafes such as Oriole Coffee + Bar had already given out 1,351 samples.

Oriole master roaster Casey Thomas Blanche, 38, said: “It’s been non-stop. It’s helped us communicate with the public and let them know that we’ve got great coffee.”

Exhibitors selling food were also doing well. By 2pm, Park Bench Deli had sold 1,300 cheese burgers.

Talks and workshops will be conducted throughout the day.

At Level 2 Mezzanine, a group took part in a Vinyasa yoga session at 10.30 am presented by Pure Yoga and SPH Magazines.

 

At 11am at the ST Lounge, DBS' regional head of group research Timothy Wong shared investment advice with ST business editor Lee Su Shyan. He spoke about budgeting for millennial and financing a startup.

One piece of advice he gave that resonated with the crowd was to start investing young so you have more time to build up your retirement fund.

Engineer Chen Feng, 35, said he attended the talk to learn about investments. “It was really useful, especially when he told youth to think long-term with their investments.”

At 12.30pm, readers met two of The Straits Times' best known columnists Sumiko Tan and Ignatius Low as they talked about their new books, Sundays with Sumiko and Life Is A Mixtape, respectively.


ST columnists Sumiko Tan and Ignatius Low with senior writer Wong Kim Hoh. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG 

Both shared about how they find fodder for their columns and dealing with public opinion. Ms Tan said that while looking through her columns over the last 23 years for material for her book, “I was struck by how judgemental I was. I would pass comments that, looking back, seem harsh. I’ve mellowed”.

Freelancer Shermaine, 34, who asked to be identified by just her first name, said she has been reading Ms Tan’s columns for more than 10 years and wanted to meet the columnist.

“I feel like what she writes about is what every other woman in Singapore is going through as well. I sense sincerity in her columns and wanted to understand more about Sumiko so I came for her session,” she said.

 

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