Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Chye Seng Huat Hardware

Yet another update on a cafe. This time it's about a famed coffee institution. So popular that it's been blogged about by many others, so I won't go into much details; save for my own personal experience.

Heard and read so much about this place and my colleague had been going on about their coffee so I bugged him to bring me there.

Quick overview:
This coffee institution was set up by the people behind Papa Palheta & Loysel's Toy. Papa Palheta somewhat changed the coffee/cafe scene in Singapore when they first came around. They are serious about their coffee, so everything was set to evolve around just that.

Being set up by the same people, all 3 cafes carry this similar characteristic: quirky location. In fact, the whole place just seem to have a somewhat whimsical setting. Things like entering Papa Palheta from the back lane at Hooper Road, Loysel's Toy being located at the former Sam Tat warehouse building etc…

And then there's this coffee place taking over wholly, the premise it is currently in; name and all. Right smack in a district where you will never expect to encounter a chic coffee joint.

You can read more HERE, HERE HERE.

The outdoor seating area, the 'roastery' & the 'workshop'

The premise is really like an institution, what with the various 'sections' located within:
The Coffee Bar, Coffee Retail, The 'Roastery', The Workshop and The Annex.

'The Annex' is where the you can call and reserve in advance, for a tasting session ($23). They even conduct barista training classes at the level above. My favourite section is the 'coffee retail' - where you can see an array of various coffee 'gadgets' on display and for sale, of course.

The retail section

I've set my eyes on one of the 'Keep Cup'. Totally regret not buying one that day!

And then there's the Coffee Bar…

The coffee bar

Very awe-inducing. The island bar is almost reminiscent of those found at Japanese restaurants, where we can watch the chefs at work. Same goes here. It's really, really interesting to watch the baristas.

Reminds me of hubby's cousin, who worked at the 'dessert bar' of a popular dining establishment. I asked her if it was awkward to have customers watching you preparing their dessert. She just shrugged and said that that the whole experience is actually quite fun. Especially when being able to interact with them.

Ahh… interaction. I guess that's the key here, why the 'bar' was designed in this manner.

The low-height island bar is designed to encourage interaction, I guess. Watching/scrutinising the baristas at work, our curiousity may heighten at one point and we might not be able to resist the urge to just ask them, why certain steps are done in a certain manner etc…

Guess you can easily spot a 'coffee geek' there…

I'm not exactly the sort who enjoy sitting at counters, watching people work that way, much less any interaction of sorts. I'm just a tad shy (hurhur). BUT (yes, that's a pretty strong 'but' there), my experience at Papa Palheta changed that. There's just something about the way they execute certain steps, the motions… that make you feel compelled to at least ask them, "Why…?"

Moving on to the coffee…


All that coffee jargon… I would have been soo befuddled!

Vintage tray

My colleague was the one who ordered the coffee (he's the experienced one) while I was left to observe the place and take in the eclectic energy.

He came back bearing this vintage-looking aluminium tray with embossed circles. Okay… when was the last time I saw this??

Our cuppas

I had the Christmas special, the Orange Cappuccino, sans sugar. Cos' my cuppa buddy for that day, the 'coffee geek' keep chiding me for 'impairing' the actual taste of such good coffee. Yes, him and his 'Long Black'.Tsk…

And he wasn't wrong about their coffee being good. They used good beans, their roasting technique is good and the dedication coming from the barista as they prepare each cuppa… It helps that type of coffee sold here are generally 'no-frills', with minimal add-ons.

I've had their coffee from Papa Palheta and Loysel's Toy and I can say that they somewhat meet my expectations as to what my cuppa should be like. Robust/full-bodied, aromatic and minimal acidity.

The orange accent really reminds me of my favourite Van Houten chocolate from my childhood years (now sold in those cute, little slabs).

There's a vintage turntable in one corner with a collection of records. My colleague told me that the record player is still functional. Right beside it is where we help ourselves to the ice-water. Which we pour into those 'Arcoroc'-like glasses, similar to those seen at Penny University.

What's up with coffee joints and vintage items, huh? And why are we such suckers for these kind of details??

And finally, desserts…


I heard that the confectioneries were made by their in-house baker.

As I stood by the counter, hem & haw-ing on what to choose, I was approached by the baristas who were currently free as the crowd had receed by then. We strike up a conversation (I can't recall about what). Very impressed by their warm personalities.

In case you're wondering, I sampled a piece of that Christmas 'Stollen'. Not bad, actually. Not to my liking, though.

Confectioneries in the box

Bought some cakes back, to be shared with my colleagues for tea break.


Got the brownie ($5), which came highly recommended by the barista. And the Raspberry Financiers ($5.50 for 5 lil' nuggets). Yes, I know that the spelling for this is similar to those 'financial investors'.

Desserts - served

And this was how I had my desserts. All the items were nicely heated up prior to serving. I don't have any vanilla ice-cream so I dug out this B&J's strawberry cheesecake ice-cream to accompany my brownie.

The brownie was above average. Totally enjoy its very crispy 'crust'. The added crunch was a nice touch, actually.

As for the Raspberry Financiers… WOW! So in love, can?

I had too Google up on this interesting dessert. Even looked up on the recipes. Gonna attempt making this cos' I wanna have more!

Seriously, it's just too bad the place is a little out of the way for me. Would so love to head there, sit at the bar and observe the baristas passionately get about making coffee. With a nice cuppa and a plate of those Financiers, please.

Chye Seng Huat Hardware
150 Tyrwhitt Road
Singapore 207563
Tel: 6396 0609
Tue to Thu: 9am – 7pm
Fri to Sun: 9am – 10pm

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