Sunday, 30 June 2013

Homebodies, Boat Quay

Located on the first floor of a shophouses looking out over the Singapore river, Homebodies is a recent addition to the list of third wave cafe's in Singapore. With views out over the old colonial district, and the Marina Bay Sands in the distance, the warm and cosy atmosphere of Homebodies is a quieter, more civilized alternative to the crowds and noise below. 
Rather than the typical menu of lattes and cappuccinos, only one type of milk based drink is served (lattes), and drinks are divided up by volume - for example, a piccolo is a 3oz, while a regular latte is a 6oz.
Double ristrettos are served rather than single espresso shots. A ristretto differs from an espresso in that it is extracted for approximately ten seconds, while a traditional espresso shot will be extracted for at least eighteen seconds, up to thirty seconds. If prepared correctly, a ristretto should have a richer body and flavour, though not necessarily more caffeine. It also suggests that the baristas have a good understanding of the different factors that make up an espresso - the grind size, extraction time and pressure - as not every cafe (its certainly a minority) has ristretto shots on the menu. 

The double ristretto at Homebodies was a nicely balanced shot, not too tart and not too acidic, using coffee beans roasted locally by Smitten coffee roasters. The dark brown crema on the shot was indicative of beans which have been roasted recently. The first impression was of very distinct fruity or berry-like flavours, which were present, but which did not overwhelm the shot. The seems to be a good example of how the roasting process can enhance or accentuate flavours in coffee beans.
The 6oz latte was well executed - there are a number of reasons why. The texture was notable, in that the foam and steamed milk blended together with every sip - this resulted in a very smooth mouthfeel, rather than the watery, loose texture than results in cafes where milk is steamed at an incorrect temperature, or for an incorrect length of time. The natural sweetness in milk (which comes from the lactose that it contains) was evident in this particular latte, which is something that I don't always see in cafe's - it's not easy to get right. Also, the underlying coffee flavour was still evident - it was slightly muted, but by no means eliminated by the addition of milk - the two complemented each other nicely. 
Overall, I saw a number of things that some other cafes don't offer (ristretto shots) or can't match (bringing out the natural sweetness in milk through steaming), and no sign of some common mistakes that some cafe's do make (drowning out the coffee flavour with excessive milk, or incinerated coffee beans). There is a growing number of cafe's in Singapore which produce quality coffee (Highlander, Nylon and Chye Seng Huat Hardware would all be good examples) - Homebodies makes a good argument for being added to the list.

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