Singapore might be better known for its insatiable foodies and gastronomic offerings than its cups of joe, but local coffee roaster Papa Palheta is attempting to change all that. Located in the Newton area, away from the island’s café hubs, this speciality coffee boutique has gotten coffee-crazy Singaporeans talking with its selection of coffee beans all roasted and sold on-site.
Instead of following the usual café formula, Papa Palheta acts as a tasting bar where customers can order coffee (free of charge) to sample in the outdoor courtyard or the boutique’s quaint sitting room, before deciding which variety of beans to buy. The beans themselves are sourced from all over the world, either from local brokers or personally carried back by staff from trips abroad. The boutique prides itself on supporting sustainable coffees that span the usual suspects as well as more exotic varieties, rarely available in the country. Closed twice a week just for roasting, its current catalogue is made up of two blends and 7-9 coffees sourced from Micro-lots and single-origin estates in places such as Sumatra, Sulawesi, Guatemala and Brazil.
Roasting and retailing coffee in Singapore is no easy business. There just isn’t the same loyalty for drinking coffee, unless it's from the local kopitiams (neighbourhood coffee shops.) According to PPP owner Leon Foo, who left his job as an investment banker to fund the cause, Asians are starting to warm to the balanced flavour of city roast. “The toughest factor faced in Singapore is usually freshness and we're able to roast our beans locally to guarantee that.”
While a fully-fledged café is now on the cards to open later in the year, Foo is passionate about making each cup of coffee served the best that it can be. “We constantly strive to improve our roasting techniques and brewing methods – the spirit of speciality coffee.”