Highlander Coffee, Singapore
Outram Park in Singapore has become a mini coffee hub recently, with at least 4 cafes (Nylon, Highlander, Oriole and Strangers Reunion) serving artisan coffee. Highlander was one of the first (if not the first) third wave cafes to open in Singapore, and is still roasting and serving interesting blends of coffee on Kampong Bahru road.
Highlander is also a coffee academy, which holds regular barista workshops, as well as coffee appreciation sessions. One session was finishing as I stopped by, which gives me an idea for my next day off...
So, how did the theory translate into practice? Are the baristas the 'crema' the crop? (Ok, no more puns). The espresso below has a light brown crema, and the volume was spot on - a good single shot should not fill up an espresso mug. It had a interesting acidic taste - not tart, but the right amount of bitterness. The biscuits which come with all coffees in Highlander are sweet, and balance out the acidity.
The house blend in Highlander is a combination of beans from Brazil, Ethiopia and Sumatra, which is a good combination for lattes, cappuccinos etc. The stronger, lasting aftertaste ensures that there is still a definite taste of coffee, and that the steamed milk does not mask any flavour. (I mention this a lot, but it's a fundamental part of a good coffee). Highlander house blend uses a specific ratio of beans from these different countries to ensure a very specific taste. The amount of foam used was slightly more akin to a latte, but it had no impact on taste or texture. Just an observation, not a criticism.
I also saw digitial scales lined up beside a French press, with tells me that specific amounts of coffee are being used for different brewing methods. (I have seen this in Nylon and CSHH also - will be reviewing both soon). My inner coffee geek was delighted to see this - it means that thought (and probably experimentation) has gone into the brewing process. The whole point of this blog (in which the title is a reference to the optimum extraction time for an espresso shot) is to highlight cafes which serve good coffee by putting thought and effort into each shot. (Nylon, Papa Palheta, CSHH, Oriole, Jimmy Monkey, Maison Ikkoku and some others all do this, I just haven't posted reviews yet. There is only so much caffeine that I can take in one day!)
Some coffee accessories are available, such as grinders, filters, aeropresses and vacumn packs to store ground beans. Pricing is good - consistent with other cafes, beans are slightly cheaper. My wife recently saw an Aeropress on sale in a shop in Orchard Road for $129 (!), roughly twice what it should be. In contrast, there were no rip off prices here. 6 bean selections are available also, including the house blend that I tried. There are lunch items on sale (sandwiches, pastries and cakes), as well as smoothies and Italian soda's available for non coffee drinkers - so no excuses for not stopping by!