Singapore Coffee Festival: A Survivor's Guide

The second edition of the Singapore Coffee Festival is a multi- faceted lifestyle festival covering food, drinks, art and sustainability issues.

Held from Aug 4 to Aug 6 at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre, it features some 90 programmes over four days, which can get overwhelming for the casual visitor.

The Straits Times divides the events into five categories that will appeal to different visitor profiles.

Whether you are a conservationist who cares about sustainable beans or an aspiring barista, there will be something for you.

If you're artsy

Get creative at the Singapore Coffee Festival with various arts events.

Taking inspiration from the humble coffee cup are various poets and artists who will doodle and write verses on takeaway cups during the festival. Head to the Artistic Recycling Project booth to pick up a decorated cup.

If you are in the mood for something craftier, there are several paid workshops by local groups.

Touchwood, the crafts arm of social enterprise Ground-Up Initiative, will conduct a Wooden Stamp Carving workshop and artisanal shop The General Co will teach participants to make tassel keychains in a Leather Craft Workshop.

Sip on Unicorn Tears, an aquatic blue soft drink with edible sparkles. The Singapore Coffee Festival promises to give you a buzz.

  • BOOK IT / SINGAPORE COFFEE FESTIVAL

  • WHERE: Marina Bay Cruise Centre, 61 Marina Coastal Drive

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

    ADMISSION: $22 or $18 (DBS and POSB cardholders and ST subscribers)

    INFO: www.sgcoffeefestival.com 

Want to dabble in edible art? A candy craft specialist from Japan will instruct you on how to put edible flowers and dried nuts into handcrafted candy.

All these workshops are ticketed, but if you prefer not to spend a dime, the best place to spend your time would be the Barter Market presented by Indigoism, a non-profit social enterprise set up by artist Samantha Lo and the National Youth Council.

More than 20 local makers and artists will showcase their goods at this cashless bazaar.

Visitors can offer anything from a service, a personal item or even a story in exchange for the wares.

Finally, music fans are also in for a treat: Just head outdoors to the Sunset Wharf for local indie music.

The line-up includes artists such as local singer-songwriter Ffion Williams, who will play self-penned R&B electro-pop tunes, and Stopgap, a home-grown five-piece indie rock band.

Also on the programme are confessional singer-songwriter Jawn, neo-soul musician Tim De Cotta and acoustic folk singer-songwriter Lew.

If you're a caffeine fiend

Whether you like to drink it, make it, or watch others brew it, the Singapore Coffee Festival has an option for you.

Say you are in a sampling mood, then do not miss quirky caffeinated drinks such as coffee in a cone by The Coffee Academics, a Hong Kong-based coffee specialist that has opened two outlets in Singapore.

But if you feel like being more hands-on, sign up for the wide variety of workshops that cater to all, from amateurs to professionals.

For example, learn how to make boozy coffee with DIY Coffee And Cocktails, a workshop hosted by the folks from local cafe-bar The Refinery, or pick up decorative skills at Latte Art And Etching, conducted by Bettr Barista, a local coffee academy and roastery.

If you want to sit back and watch local manual brewing experts duke it out on stage, catch the Singapore Aeropress Championships presented by local cafe Common Man Coffee Roasters.

Finally, budding entrepreneurs will also have several opportunities to learn about the coffee industry.

The Straits Times' food correspondent Rebecca Lynne Tan will host a talk titled Blazing A Path: Entrepreneurs In The F&B Industry, while business correspondent Chia Yan Min will moderate a panel called So You Want To Open A Cafe?.

Also check out From Boring To Barista.

It features speakers who have made a mid-career change to join the cafe industry, hosted by deputy Life editor Wong Ah Yoke.

Sign up for the events at www. sgcoffeefestival.com.sg.

If you're a foodie

Worried the caffeine buzz would leave you shaky? There are food options galore to take the edge off the java, with more than 80 food and beverage vendors to choose from, including perennial favourites such as Ya Kun Kaya Toast, as well as hipster cafes such as Strangers Reunion.

 
 
 

You can also rehydrate with a range of non-caffeinated beverages. Amoy Street cafe Dapper Coffee will serve creative drinks such as Unicorn Tears, a soft drink in photogenic aquatic blue with edible sparkles, while Aussie drinkmaker Grounded Pleasures will sell drinking chocolate in exotic flavours such as mint, chilli and cinammon.

Those looking for something more gourmet can sign up for an omakase experience with The Straits Times' Life editor Tan Hsueh Yun, who has curated a selection of bites and brews from the festival, including a rich and savoury foie gras poutine from Garcons, a French food stall in a food court, and taro waffles with Earl Grey ice cream from modern Asian fusion eatery Froth.

Chocoholics will do well to check out Krakakoa's Craft Chocolate Making workshop.

The bean-to-bar chocolate maker from Indonesia will also partner local coffee academy Bettr Barista to offer a session on how to pair sustainably grown coffee with artisanal chocolate.

If you are the kind of foodie who needs to feed your mobile phone camera first, go for the Flatlay Coffeeshop Photography workshop by food photographer and stylist Tan Chun Rong, who runs the XLBCR food blog, or join award-winning Straits Times photojournalists for tips on taking enviable coffee porn photos at the #nofilter Coffee Shots talk at the ST Lounge.

If you're an eco warrior

Learn more about sustainable farming practices, the journey of coffee beans from farm to shelf and support conservation efforts at the Singapore Coffee Festival.

The eco-minded can sit in on talks such as Conservation And Coffee by Java Mountain Coffee, an Indonesian social enterprise that supports women farmers.

Developer Mandai Park Holdings, which operates attractions such as the Singapore Zoo, will launch its new book Wild We Can, as well as showcase Owa Coffee, which is coffee grown in a wildlife-friendly manner in Java, Indonesia.

Straits Times journalist Audrey Tan will moderate a talk titled Coffee With A Conscience, which discusses the role of consumers in the coffee industry.

Speakers include representatives from Nespresso, the international brand of coffee machines, capsules and coffee accessories; small Sumatran speciality coffee mill Tiga Raja Mill; and Mandai Park Holdings.

Find out how to cut waste at home in a workshop titled Coffee Ground Soap Making, where the folks from local coffee academy and roastery Bettr Barista will teach you how to make an all-natural soap using coffee grounds.

Festivalgoers can also contribute to a good cause while shopping at The Good Market, where seven social enterprises from Asia will sell goods such as beauty products, artisanal tea, chocolates and cashews.

There is fun for all in the family outside of coffee appreciation.

Young ones can attend Story Time presented by Straits Times Press, where journalists such as sports and features writer Rohit Brijnath and entertainment editor Andy Chen will evoke childhood memories and entertain with excerpts from children's stories they have written.

There will also be book dramatisations by the National Library Board as well as an author-sharing session by Felix Cheong on his book Singapore Siu Dai, a collection of 50 short stories.

If you have kids

The Edible Art Making workshop by healthy snack delivery start-up Boxgreen teaches both young and old how to turn snacks into aesthetic works.

Kids can also unleash their hidden desire to draw on walls without incurring the wrath of their parents at the Live Graffiti wall panels alongside artists from The Straits Times Art Desk.

Share parenting stories at a panel discussion called Parenting In A Digital Age, presented by Singtel and hosted by news editor Marc Lim, discussing the challenges of parenting today.

Family members can also combine forces at the Nespresso Creatista Studio to create a latte using the Creatista Plus machine.

It is the first Nespresso machine that allows users to make their own latte art with an automatic steam wand.

Once you have created your latte art, upload a photo of it on Instagram with the hashtags CreatistaBarista, NespressoSG and sgcoffeefest. The best entry will win a new Creatista Plus.


All your burning questions answered

Singapore Coffee Festival will be held at Marina Bay Cruise Centre, 61 Marina Coastal Drive.

If you are driving, the nearest carpark is the one next to the cruise centre.

From 7am to 10.30pm, parking costs $2 an hour, or part thereof for first two hours and then $3 an hour subsequently.

There is a maximum daily charge of $15 for every 24-hour block.

Parking is also available at Marina South Pier and Gardens by the Bay.

To go by public transport, see How To Get There

If you want to cycle, there are bicycles located at the large bike rack near to The Promontory, Marina South Pier MRT station exit and Marina Bay Cruise Centre's coach bay.

The bicycles are free to use, although users have to pay a $49 deposit that is fully refundable through the Mobike app.

Just download the app at www.mobike.com/global/scan on your mobile device and sign up for a Mobike account with your mobile number.

Then follow the instructions to unlock the bike.

There will be a Mobike booth at the coffee festival, so approach the booth for more information.

Is admission free?

Regular tickets are $22 a session, or $18 a session for DBS and POSB cardholders and ST subscribers. Go to www.sgcoffeefestival.com/ tickets to register.

Wait, what do you mean by "a session"?

For crowd-control purposes, the festival days are divided into two sessions: brunch, from 10am to 3.30pm; and sundown, from 4.30 to 10pm. Participants will be given a wristband indicating the session they have registered for and they can stay only for the duration of the session. They can leave and come back again within the time session.

If I am already paying for tickets, do I still have to pay for the food, drinks and events at the festival?

Yes, you will still have to pay for the food and drinks you purchase.

Some events are free but some are ticketed and require registration online.

Go to www.sgcoffeefestival.com/programmes for more details.

Each ticket comes with a festival goodie bag, which includes a 56-page festival magazine, two free sampling stickers to exchange for drinks and snacks, vouchers from sponsors and an SCF Coffee Card which gives you discounts at more than 30 participating cafes and F&B outlets until Aug 31.

Is there anything else I should know?

Bring lots of cash, as all exhibitors accept cash. Only selected exhibitors accept Nets payment. There is a DBS/POSB ATM at the venue.

This is a non-smoking event. Visitors have to undergo a bag check upon entry.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2017, with the headline 'Get high on coffee'. Print Edition | Subscribe