Tag Archives: barista

褚家园咖啡馆 – 鼓浪屿(Gulangyu), Xiamen, China


As I continue to walk after my food tasting at 林氏鱼丸, I was actually searching for this place. If you have taken a wrong turn, you may never find this nice little secret garden. But if you speak Mandarin, just ask the locals. This place is well known in Gulangyu or even Xiamen for their coffees and if I’m not wrong, their barista came in runners-up in some barista competition. I was lucky to have found this place, which looked like someone else’s garden from the main door, and trotted in to find a lovely paradise hiding in the small island of Gulangyu.

Main door. It's actually a conserved historical building. Entry only for customers.
Main door. It’s actually a conserved historical building. Entry only for customers.
Walking towards the main building.
For group meetings
Hidden piped in music in the garden, which adds to the lovely ambience.
Facade of the building
Reminds me of the old Shanghai
Wow 1930s building
Lovely colonial ambience
The table where I sat
Bar Counter
My triple shot latte RMB35 – Blend is pretty robust, lovely crema and served at a good temperature.
Teaspoons from UK… Maybe made in China haha
伯爵红茶 RMB30 – Signature ice red tea. It has a very strong flowery fragrance. I thought it was some flavored tea leaves but I was told it isn’t… It’s just the fragrance from the tea leaves! Nice and refreshing!
Homemade signature Tiramisu RMB58
Their signature cheesecake RMB38. Not cheap for this baked cheesecake but it was very rich and enjoyed every bit of it!

Rating: 5/5.

Taste: Awesome for a nice tea session! My only regret is not trying their popular food like Beef Rice, Baked Escagots, etc. But the desserts will do really fine!

Portion: Average.

Service: Really good. Service staff would be so obliging to explain to you the make of the food on the menu.

Ambience: Nice and serene. Was there during autumn, still warm so didn’t sit outside in the garden. Inside’s aircon is chillax!

Price: See last photo.

RTE: Definitely!

Location & Contacts: See last photo. 🙂

MQ Coffee Slayer Lab – Shanghai, China


After reaching Shanghai in the afternoon today, I rushed to check out this cafe which has a roasting factory, 2 cafe outlets and a training center for aspiring baristas. I found them online and know that they roast their own beans. I took the cab and headed to their training center and realized they don’t serve coffees there after I made a call to them. Then I headed to their outlet at fengxian lu which is the only outlet that opens on weekends.

The walk under the 39 deg celsius sun is no joke even though it’s like only 3 blocks away. When I reached the cafe, I was drenched. The cafe is really a very small shop and when I was there there were already some customers there occupying the inside of the shop. So I had to sit the outer area which was serious super warm!

I first ordered the Mandheling which has mild acidity and quite a medium-high body. But tasting the dripped coffee in such a warm space is really uncomfortable.

Shortly after, some of the customers inside left and I moved my ass inside to catch some aircon… And I had to give some lesson on ‘how to adjust the aircon to cool mode’. I then ordered a latte, which was made from the branded Slayer espresso machine. The latte has some acidity, fruity and pretty full body. I found the milk they used is a little on the sweet side like the HL milk in Singapore and Malaysia. Nevertheless, it was a pretty good combination for their House Blend No.5, which is a mix of 3 different beans that I shall not disclose.

The cute thing about the small shop is that they have a vintage typewriter there for customers to type in their greetings! Very innovative!

Rating: 4.5/5. The temperature control in the cafe is very important.

Taste: Great!

Portion: Average.

Service: Excellent. The barista over the counter offered me a cup of water when I came into the cafe, all drenched. And she keeps refilling when I sat inside. Very good conversationalist too!

Ambience: Inside is alright but outside is not cool. Very small space but in a very prime area.

Price: RMB28 for the Mandheling and RMB25 for the latte.

RTE: I don’t mind if I’m in town next.

Location: 2 outlets

My Crazy Cafe Spree


As per what was mentioned in my other blog tourwithroy.wordpress.com, I went on a cafe spree on Tuesday, to discover the coffee culture in Singapore. All 6 cafes were highly recommended with another 2 regrettably, were closed on Tues. Hence I didn’t have the chance to visit Nylon and Strangers Reunion. Strangers Reunion was moving their premise to a bigger unit 2 doors down hence my timing couldn’t meet as I was flying back to China on Wednesday. Nevertheless, congrats to Strangers Reunion on their move to their new premise and hope I can try your coffees one day!

When I was doing the spree, I realized that I should not comment on each individual cafe experience as that will affect their business as most of them are budding businesses and young entrepreneurs. I definitely support young entrepreneurs coming out to start their own businesses, therefore the least the need now from the media are criticisms that will destroy their confidence. We all want the coffee culture in Singapore to grow right? But that said, sometimes they just need a little reminder when the popularity gets over their heads.

The taste of coffee itself varies from different places at different times. It depends on the types of bean use (even the same type of beans cultivated at different location has different taste! ), the way the beans are roasted, the type of espresso machine used, type of grinders, timing of every brew, method of frothing the milk, type of milk used, method of compacting the powder in the hoppers, etc and the list goes on. In my opinion as well as my barista coach, there is no such thing as the ‘best coffee’ in any geographical location. Coffees should be appreciated the way they are according to their roast and type and it is the responsibility of every barista to bring out the full potential of every brew.

The 6 cafes I’ve visited were (according to my visiting order):

1. Chye Seng Huat Hardware
2. Flock Cafe
3. Forty Hands
4. The Plains
5. Oriole Coffee Roasters
6. Oriole Cafe & Bar (I had my dinner appointment there since they opened till 11pm)

Below are my own opinionated observations in general and to be fair across the board, I ordered lattes at every joint:

1. Baristas – I’m not gonna comment much on this ‘cos every barista will develop their own habits while preparing the coffees. Some are professionally trained, some are trained in house. Those professionally trained will know that they are not suppose keep leftover milk but for commercial sense, I guess it can’t be helped sometimes. Other habits like the way they clean the hoppers, cleaning the steam wand, etc. So, I’m not gonna comment much on this cos the list will go on.

2. Milk Frothing – This is one of the most important issue I wanna bring up. Tolerance to heat on your palms differs from person to person. Sad to say the people who are still using a thermometer while frothing their milk are the bigger chains. That is why some coffees I drank yesterday were just warm… All hot coffees MUST be served HOT! Not warm!

3. Latte Art – I realized that there is a lot of focus on the art on top of the lattes I ordered. Definitely a plus to serve a cuppa in a presentable manner. But check out point 2 above; if you can’t even make a proper latte served at the right temperature, screw the latte art! Customers pay $4-$6 for a cup of latte, I would say maybe 5% goes to the latte art only. The rest of the percentage is for the substance of your coffee and milk and the effort to bring out full flavor of the beans!

4. Customer Service – Standing behind the coffee bar counter doesn’t mean you don’t have to smile and interact with your customers. Especially when you have a coffee bar or an island-type coffee bar where everyone can see you and what you’re doing. I remember sitting at one of the bar counter seat and waiting for someone to take my orders when there were like 4-5 staffs inside the counter. So I asked if I can place my orders (from one staff hovering in front me the whole time minding his own business), only to realize that I had to head to the other side and place my orders with the cashier (you can’t blame me, first time there and no signs saying orders have to be placed at the cashier). And I had to hang around there to wait for my latte to be brewed, and when i got it, not hot some more! After that I lost my seat at the bar counter and had to sit at some corners facing the wall. This is the problem when you get too popular, may not be the owners’ fault as most of the time is the employees not maintaining the SOP.

I guess that’s all I have to say, highlighting the main issues I’ve noticed. Anything else I’ll have to start charging haha… But some friends who asked me which one is good, I would say every joint put in lots of effort to present their coffees to their customers and making their cafes a cosy place for catching up with friends. But if I have to choose, and for someone who appreciates what goes on behind every cuppa; that is respecting the tremendous journey the coffee beans take to reach the espresso machines and making sure each brew brings out the full potential and flavor of these robust-full beans, I might have to give that credit to Oriole Coffee Roasters.

Keep up the great work guys! 😉
Big Roy