This somewhat “secretive” coffee-only boutique might change your definition to good coffee.
Situated in the back alley of Hooper Road, it takes a bit of effort to find this “mysterious” cafe but I guess it’s a small price to pay to have what Papa Palheta claimed to be the most important drink of the day. I’m sure coffee lovers would agree to the “important” part of that statement. We are not entirely sure about our readers but we definitely can categorize ourselves as coffee-lovers but I must admit we are not coffee experts. As far as I know, coffee-only cafes only came into Singapore’s food scene just a couple of years ago and even so, not many people are aware of it’s existence unless it’s from word-of-mouth or the press.
Apart from the challenge locating Papa Palheta, our first impression to this cafe was somewhat surprising because we were expecting a much bigger space where people sit around having their conversations and coffee at around a table..you know, like your typical cafe but it turns out, it isn’t. Stepping into the cafe, the white walls surrounds you as you walk inwards. You will probably see other customers taking up the 2-3 tables along the main area, minding their own business. At this point of time, you realized that there isn’t any waiting staff coming to you. To be honest, we were somewhat “lost” in that sense but we found a table, observed further and everything sort of becomes clearer.
You have to pretty much self-service around Papa Palheta and that includes waiting and receiving your coffee from the barista. We would like to highlight a few things that we think would be useful for first-timers.
First, you will not see menus or prices of coffees written anywhere here. So if you don’t know what to order, simply approach the barista over and they will be glad to walk you through and even give you a quick intro to what this place is all about. Second, this coffee-only cafe does not serve any food here. Third and most importantly, this cafe works on a tipping system and there isn’t any “fixed price” for the beverages served here so you pretty much pay what you think is appropriate.
We got ourselves a seat by the coffee tasting bar and we immediately love the coziness of this place. Choose between the large comfy sofa in the middle of the room or take a seat by the low-lying bar table (which we did) and you are halfway there to a good cup of coffee.
Not sure of what to order, I was recommended by the barista the daily house blend – Terra Firma Cappuccino. We would say that was a pretty very good recommendation. Aromatic, creamy and wholesome in flavour… it’s almost too beautiful for us to drink. The blend is made up of 3 different types of coffee beans.
We went for another type of coffee which is commonly known as filtered coffee or the drip brew (in Vietnam, coffee is commonly drink this way). It all starts with the beans actually. We decided to go for the recommended Columbia beans. On a related note they also sell coffee beans here for those who wish to buy them home to make their own coffee. Optimum temperature is around 92 – 95 degree celcius. Too high would make the coffee somewhat bitter and will not bring out the full flavour of the coffee (thanks to JK and Marcus for the tip!)
Sitting by the coffee bar watching the barista upclose, preparing the drip coffee, we can’t help but think that coffee making is indeed a form of art just by itself. Each step is meticulously made to ensure that quality of the coffee is what it should be. The selected beans are weighed and grinded, filters and cups well-prepped, it’s almost hard to fight the urge to taste the coffee. And not to mention these guys really do know what they are doing to ensure the best quality coffee is being delivered to the customers. We took the chance admiring each step of the coffee making process while chatting up with the barista about coffee. A fantastic way to spend a morning I would say, no?
Papa Palheta is by far one of the best place where true coffee lovers can come and enjoy coffee of the highest quality. Our only gripe is with the limited seats within the cafe. Despite it’s inconvenient location we still see many coffee lovers coming by to satisfy their craving and love for coffee. Just so be prepared not being able to get a seat. That said, you can simply wait around or ask for a take-away. We reckon some customers actually come to Papa Palheta to learn or exchange pointers with the baristas here on how to make their own perfect blend as well. There’s just so much for us to learn and understand about coffee and we know that we will definitely come back for more to try out the other types of coffee that Papa Palheta has to offer for its ever-growing base of customers. No doubt there’s no food being served here but with the coffee here so good, forget about the most important meal of the day and go for the most important drink instead.
Ratings: 4.5 foodiedoos out of 5
Papa Palhetta Specialty Coffee
140 Bukit Timah Road
Tel: 9799 0420
Weekdays: 9am to 6pm
Weekends: 9am to 7.30pm
Mondays: Closed for roasting