Sunday, 18 November 2012

Jewel Coffee, Singapore

There are certain things that I associate with Shenton Way in Singapore. Suits, skyscrapers and spreadsheets, to name just the things that begin with "s". Single origin coffee can now be added to the list, in the form of Jewel Coffee, beneath the polished glass and steel exterior of One Shenton.

Jewel played a role in my coffee education, in the form of a cupping / coffee appreciation session after work on evening in Changi. I spent an evening learning to appreciate the differences between different blends and varities of beans from different regions, and even today I still use some of the lessons learned that evening.

Espresso shots tell me a lot about a cafe. The crema tells me how fresh the beans are, the volume of fluid tells me if the extraction time is correct, and the taste tells me if the roasting profile is suitable for the bean. So how did Jewel measure up?

The volume was perfect, with a medium dark crema. The dominant flavour in the shot is citrus - but it's a shot where the astringency is very evident - as much a sensation as a flavour, an intense hit of citrus that awakens your taste buds, with an aftertaste that fades out slowly. The mouthfeel has some syrupy elements, but not overwhelmingly so either.

The choice of single origin beans is a nice touch - when I visited, beans from Costa Rica and El Salvador were being served. Each has distinct tasting notes (mandarin orange hits and brown sugar for the Costa Rica, lingering sweetness and dark fruits for the El Salvador), however I found that the citrus elements were dominant in each. I'll never complain about single origin coffees on a menu - it's a sign of how far coffee culture has come, and it directly benefits the farmers who grow the beans in question. However, it could be a good idea to have one strong citrus single origin and one robust, earthy and less floral single origin paired with each other. This is not a complaint by any means, just a recognition of different tastes and preferences.

The cappuccino that I ordered came with smooth foam that complemented, rather than drowned out, the underlying coffee flavour. The layer of microbubbles added the required smooth mouthfeel, while allowing the coffee flavour to dominate. The layer of foam and serving size were just as they should be, ensuring that this was separate and distinct from a latte. The latte art, and contrast of light on medium dark foam, was a welcome touch.

There is a very good selection of drinks on the menu, with Chemex, V60, Syphon and Iced coffees available. I always like to see Chemex coffees available - it's notable for producing very clean brews which highlight the underlying characteristics of each blend or variety. It's a good method to begin to appreciate the differences in blends from different regions.

There are some retail items available also - I spotted Chemex and V60 pourover accessories on the shelf. The bean selection is quite good, with beans from Guatamela (Antigua), El Salvador (El Cordon), Nicaragua (Los placeros), Ethiopia (Sidamo) and Sumatra available, for $18 each.

This is a good choice for quality coffee if you work in the Shenton way area, along with Oriole and Club St Social - but it is more expensive, with a single espresso priced at $4.20. The sheer choice of coffee blends and brewing types makes this worth visiting however.

No comments:

Post a Comment