Updated: Apr 10
After covering where to eat in Singapore's Chinatown and the street arts there, we came to Kampong Glam, another ethnic quarter, which includes Arab Street. While combing the lanes in Kampong Glam for street arts, we came across some interesting murals about coffee cultures in Singapore. There are more about these coffee murals than just paintings. So, we decided to give it a write-up on its own.
Interestingly, the coffee murals were painted by Yip Yew Chong, the same artist who did the Tiong Bahru and Everton Park series of murals that we posted previously. Yip YC also has another artwork in Kampong Glam, which we will put up in another article.
Some artworks from Yip Yew Chong
Now, let's learn more about Singapore's local coffee cultures from the coffee murals. And better yet, you can find coffee outlets with different cultures right in Kampong Glam. So, don't just take photos of the murals, know the cultures and try the coffees too to complete the coffee experience when you travel in Singapore.
1. Indian Kopi / Teh Tarik
This is a common scene in Indian-Muslim eateries that serve teh tarik ("pulled" milk tea) or kopi tarik ("pulled" milk coffee) using a method know as "pulling", which is a traditional way of pouring the beverage to and fro between two vessels. After "pulling", the tea or coffee will be well-mixed with condensed milk and has a frothy layer on top.
2. Chinese Traditional Coffee
The local Chinese's way of serving traditional coffee is to prepare ultra-thick black coffee in a tall container with fine ground beans inside a cloth filter. The thick coffee is then poured into a cup before adding with more hot water to reduce the thickness. Different amount of sugar and/or condensed milk may be added depending on customer preference.
Take a closer look at the mural and you will notice that the stall serves more than just coffee. In a traditional breakfast set, coffee is usually accompanied by kaya (coconut jam) or butter toasts and two half-boiled eggs. Marvel at the level of details.
3. Western Coffee Culture
I believe western cafes are pretty common in most countries. But, let's run through the process anyway to strengthen the understanding.
Cafes usually serve espresso or espresso-based coffees. Espresso is coffee brewed by forcing a small amount of boiling water through ground coffee beans under pressure. The resulting coffee is usually in small amount but super thick — called a "single shot". An order of espresso is usually a single shot of black coffee without anything added. Espresso-based coffees use espresso with different portions of hot or steamed milk and other additives to create different type of lattes, such as cappuccino, mocha, flat white, etc.
The mural above depicts the full western coffee culture. Let's break it down and try to understand it part by part. On the left, the man is roasting the coffee beans, usually in a roastery with more sophisticated machines.
In the middle of the mural, a cup of latte was being prepared (since milk is being added by a man) and the lady is "drawing" on the foamy layer. This usually takes place in a cafe.
To the right, the chemical formula of coffee is shown with various dispensers for making a cup of coffee. This indicates a classroom or an academy to learn about coffee and how to make them.
Putting the above three parts together, you will have an academy, a roastery and a cafe. And you will be able to find all three of them here — I mean, behind the wall where the mural is.
All the 3 murals in this post can be found on the same wall along Sultan Gate. And they are called "Coffee Story" which is commissioned by A.R.C. Coffee (or Academy.Roastery.Cafe Coffee), the name of the cafe right behind the murals.
Find its location using the map below.
Step into the cafe for some coffees and meals. The roastery is at the back of the cafe and the academy is on level 2, which is opened only when there are classes.
And I tried their "1 + 1" signature coffee. It is actually two coffees in one serving: a small cup of single-shot espresso and a cup of latte. A.R.C. Coffee uses Ethiopia coffee beans as their house blend. The single-shot espresso aims to emphasize the strong acidity of Ethiopia beans. The latte allows a different experience with milk added.
And there you have it! Coffee arts, coffee cultures and a cafe to have coffee and relax after photographing the murals. I have planned a full "Singapore coffee experience" for you — it's free.