[SG] Bettr Week Coffee Crawl 2012 (Part 1)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Heard of pub crawl? Yup, this is the same concept, except they do it with coffee, crawling round the island to cure that coffee addiction. Hopping around cafes is probably one of my favourite pastime, searching for the best with the best ambience, for hidden gems and of course, the best cafe menu for brunch/desserts/pastries.

This is the first time it's been organised, by social enterprise Bettr Barista Coffee Academy. It was part of the activities organised under a theme of Bettr Week, promoting socially responsible businesses for a Bettr world, through Bettr coffee! I thought it was an extremely good opportunity to find out more about the cafe culture in Singapore, after seeing how there are so many sprouting out now and been yearning to visit them for the longest time ever. This gave me the perfect excuse, and learning more about Bettr Barista's social cause touched me a great deal.

I've always believed that social enterprises shouldn't be leveraging too heavily on their social mission, because ultimately, you don't want to simply breed sympathy. Bettr Barista did it well, by focusing on their core business of making Bettr coffee, before telling the stories of their journey to a better world. They support disadvantaged and underprivileged women by providing them with skills to a better life. Besides being a coffee academy training them to be baristas, they also look into the socio-emotional and physical management, a multi-faceted holistic view of impacting lives. This was an added bonus to the good coffee, service and ambience we enjoyed at their rather inaccessible yet cosy premises.

We visited 6 coffee stops in a day and here's a summary of our verdict, in order of preference:
1. Jimmy Monkey
2. Bettr Barista
3. Broers Cafe
4. Smitten Coffee & Tea Bar
5. Forty Hands
6. Liberty

First stop: Bettr Barista
I shall save the best for the last, so in accordance to our order of visiting, our first stop for the day was Bettr Barista. A place where the staff were very warm and friendly, willing to share so much of what they know, and even tips on home techniques for making good coffee. I was impressed by their coffee, and more so by their hospitality.

Starting lazy Sundays with a cup of good cappuccino, it's simply blissful (:

I like the rich and creamy cup of cappuccino, with very smooth froth and a strong full taste of the coffee. It was slightly sweet and I like how the milk didn't cover up the taste of the beans. It was a very mild version, but very much to my liking. 

Sidenote: I really love the badges they made for the crawl. Think bettr, live bettr, was what we got. Some mantras to life we've got there! (: 

Don't belittle these packets of biscuits. 

I was too hungry that I decided to open these up in the end. And gosh, such gems they were! They tasted like crunchy cookies instead of biscuits and went very well with the coffee. It wasn't too sweet and every bite just got me more addicted. 

A small and cosy space they've got, overlooking the buildings. Probably a good hangout place in the evening!

Warmed with their hospitality and openness to share their knowledge! 

This is a place that I'll definitely return. For good ambience, a good cup of coffee and great service! Not for acidic coffee lovers though! But perhaps it was just our cup of latte and cappuccino that wasn't acidic, you might just find some recommended beans by them at their retail space (:

Nom Factor: 8.5/10
8 Burn Road
Trivex #13-04

Next stop: Broers Cafe

It's pretty easy to miss this place as the unit numbers aren't stated very clearly and this is the only thing that's placed out there. 

Not very helpful if you're walking along the main streets of Pertain Road and not going into the forks. It's right next to the salon along the main street, so walk in further and you'll spot this sign that leads you in.

Into another cosy space, great for chillout sessions!


This had a stronger flavour of chocolate in it and was a little sweet for my liking. It would be been better if the coffee taste was stronger. Nonetheless, I thought the coffee used was quite good, it wasn't acidic and left a fragrant after taste.


BKL Salad ($4)

The highly recommended potato salad on most reviews. I thought it was quite a plain dish, simply mixing chunks of cut-up potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and a dash of mayonnaise. It tasted very homemade, something that I can easily prepare on my own, hence I probably wouldn't pay for this. I thought it was quite a good complement to the taste with potato skin left on, it was slightly salted and gave variety to the texture. However, I didn't like the type of potatoes used. It was very loose inside and it felt rather distinct from the skin. Perhaps that was why the skin was left on too, so that it doesn't fall apart and become mashed potato instead.    

I'd probably think twice before making a special trip down. Probably a good chillout spot for the ambience but food wise, I'm not too sure if it's worth the distance. 

Nom Factor: 7.0/10
3 Petain Road
Singapore 208108

Third Stop: Liberty Coffee

It is within walking distance from Farrer Park MRT, but do take note of the ultra dusty air while on the way there. There's just too much construction around, which I thought kinda affected our mood while trying to find our way there. People around were very friendly though, helping us navigate around and for a moment, I felt like I was travelling all over again!

It was quite easy to spot as their decor was very distinct from their neighbours. 

Lemon Poppy Cake

We reached at about 2pm plus and they were just starting to serve their cakes out for display on the counter. There weren't quite alot of choices for us yet, and wanting to take a break from the stronger tastes with all the coffee, we skipped the chocolate fudge cake and chose this instead. It sounded rather refreshing and unique, with poppy seeds topped with lemon curd.  

The poppy seeds gave it a slightly rougher texture, which made it rather interesting. The cake could have been made finer though, so as to highlight the contrast in textures. It was a tad too airy and rough that the poppy seeds didn't exactly stand out. The lemon curd was also slightly tangy, with a pretty sharp sourish cringe to it. It was quite nice for the lower 'level' where there was just a thin layer spread over it, and added a refreshing tinge to it. The layer of curd on top was too thick though. Also, thought they could have made use of the lemon curd to gel those two layers instead of making it seem like two distinct pieces of cakes.  

Rather cramped seating area. This is all they had, with one more table at the side which my camera couldn't capture. 


Macchiato means marked or stained with a small amount of milk, so this was pretty much a shot of espresso with a thin layer of milk foam on top. It accentuated the taste of the beans which didn't really sit well with me. It was way too acidic and tasted sour right at the first sip. I was waiting for the taste to be completed with a more rounded after taste, just like the americano I tried in UK. Sadly, that was it. Nothing very special to boast of, probably a hit for those who like their coffee acidic. 

/edit: According to feedback from the people at Liberty, the sharp taste wasn't an indicator of the acidity and in fact, their espresso blend had little acidity in it. Not too sure if the term was used correctly, but simply put, it was quite sour and you could taste the sharpness that was harsher than the usual americano I've tried before, with no milk at all to round off the taste. You might want to try the milder ones if you don't fancy very sharp coffee.


Pretty latte art is a battle half won. A rather intriguing name they had for this that got my friend curious, it was named after the glass that contained this drink. Technically known as Galão where it's one espresso shot with 3 shots of milk. I liked the consistency of the foam that was very smooth. The beans were however, too acidic for our liking again. I thought it'd be milder than a cappuccino and was quite surprised by the strong coffee in it. Interesting try!

They've got rather irregular opening hours, so do make a call before you head down or check out their Facebook updates. It seemed very much like a sideline hobby for the owners. Great place to visit if you like the sharp taste of coffee. 

/edit: Found out from the Liberty folks that the irregular hours are not due to them working on this as a sideline, but rather, they're focused more on their trade customers. Thanks for the correction! (:

Nom Factor: 7.0/10
131 Rangoon Road
Singapore 218409
Contact: 6392 2903

Before I start to overwhelm, reviews of the next three cafes (Smitten, Forty Hands and Jimmy Monkey) will be up shortly! (:

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  1. Thanks for visiting! A Gibraltar would be more robust than a cappuccino as the milk to coffee ratio is less than a cappuccino or latte. It doesn't sound like you like robust coffee but we do have other drinks on the espresso menu which might be closer to your preference. Do try a piccolo or a capp/latte next time if you visit us again. And our espresso blend actually has very little acidity in it, perhaps you were using the term to describe the bittersweetness of the blend that can be apparent in drinks like the macchiato and gibraltar, which has little milk to round off the harsher edge which some drinkers aren't used to.

  2. And we're definitely not a "sideline"! Liberty Coffee is a coffee roastery with a focus on roasting for our cafe/restaurant partners. The coffee bar is open to retail customers as and when we can spare the time to do so, the bulk of the time is spent in activities supporting our trade customers.

    1. Hi! Thanks for the correction! Always happy to learn more especially as we aren't exactly trained in coffee tasting and was sharing merely based on our preferences. Yup indeed, I do prefer milder coffee and I'll definitely have a shot at what you've recommended the next time round.

      Apologies for mistaking that you guys were working on Liberty as a sideline, as I wasn't able to find out much online while writing the post. It's really heartening to see committed people like you guys helping to boost the blooming cafe scene here! (: