Not a coffee drinker myself but for some reason, i learned about coffee. The first workshop was done to introduce about Singapore Traditional Coffee by Mr Lim Eng Lam http://www.nanyangoldcoffee.com/
Drinking coffee just like tasting any other cooking dishes are very subjective to the taster. Singapore Traditional Coffee is what is in the culture of Singapore since the early years and is widely drunk by the older generation as well as the heartlanders. Eg. Toastbox, killiney kopitiam, etc.
Mr Lim introduced a brief history about how he started about 6yrs ago to succeed his uncle. It was indeed an achievement to continue to sustain the traditional Singapore coffee and maintain the original taste.
Mr Lim's "Nanyang Old Coffee" has 4 branches with which he conducted his workshop today at 268 South Bridge Road tucked at a corner of Chinatown. He was a bubbly & humorous man. He said he only serve coffee and none other Not being a coffee drinker, i was embarrassed when asked what i want. I have to think a while before i know what local 'term' to use. To taste coffee, it's actually best to drink it as it is (i.e. without any sugar or milk added). However, i like it with condensed milk for local coffee and ordered a 'kopi'. See below chart on what terms to use when ordering coffee locally
We were served coffee in the usual local cups we saw in many coffee shop chains with nice crispy toasted bread spread with butter and kaya. At a corner of the wooden table was a chart pasted to assist customer on how to order coffee locally. It was really interesting and helpful for foreigners i'm sure.
Tucked right inside the shop is a small museum created to explain the history of Singapore traditional coffee, exhibiting different equipment used and about Singapore coffee. It was interesting as I read about olden days baristas were not allowed to wear bermudas with pockets to prevent them pocketing the money! Their dressing is simple thin white cotton t-shirt and a thin striped bermudas (like those where our grandpa wear to sleep).
The below poster explained what makes up Singapore coffee beans. "The coffee beans here are mainly imported from Indonesia. The beans are first roasted to a medium dark blend and glazed with sugar and sparing amount of butter subsequently to complete the roasting process. The glazing process not only covers the coffee beans with a pleasant sheen, it also enhances the aroma substantially. Back in those years where transportation were primitive and far from efficient, this sugar-coating process helped to seal in the freshness of the coffee beans for a much longer period of time, much like a natural preservative."
Mr Lim explained to us some of the beans. Arabica, Robusta, sugar-glazed and maize beans.
It was rather interestin as I smelled the beans, the arabica doesn't give out a strong aroma compared to robusta beans. The sugar-glazed beans were sticky to the touch but gave a beautiful sheen to it.
He showed us how coffee is made the vietnamese way in a drip. 1tsp is about 3g of coffee. He added about 4 tsp, pour a little boiling water to wet the ground coffee and then add in the rest, cover it and let the coffee drip.
Then he showed us how espresso was made using steam. The whole equipment was put on a heater for the water to boil. Once it's heated up, the steam will be forced through the coffee powder and 'wala', the espresso is brewed.
Finally for our traditional coffee, about 4-5 tsp of grounded coffee was added and boiling water was poured into a metal container and let stand for about 4minutes. Have a timer. A crown will formed above. (it looks just like how coffee was being cupped.) After 4 minutes, pour the coffee through the cloth sock and here is our traditional Kopi O kosong
I have to drink plain water in between to wash down to taste the difference in the coffee.
Here is what i got from the workshop. A nice notebook, a brochure on Nanyang Old Coffee,a cloth 'sock' and a 250g of packet coffee powder. I realised traditional singapore coffee mixed robusta coffee compared to the 'western' styled coffee where they used more blends and arabica beans.
The ingredients on the packet include: Arabica beans, robusta beans roasted with small portion of sugar and margarine.
I wish Mr Lim success in retaining the traditional flavour of Singapore traditional coffee and may he make a mark to introduce Singapore coffee to other countries.