The Plain, Ronin, The Bravery, and Reviewing Coffee

Over dinner the other night, a uni student was educating me on the latest trend amongst “young people” (her words) in Singapore: cafe-hopping. The basic premise of this hobby is that you gather a group of friends, ensure your 4G phone cameras are working, then head to the newest cafes, order Instagram-able food (must look good, must be Instagram-able) and drink (the coffee therefore, must have latte art), and then Instagram said food and drink.

Was happy to hear of two more siblings for The Plain (50 Craig Road, Tanjong Pagar) – Ronin (17 Hongkong Street) and The Bravery (66 Horne Road). Good memories of The Plain and how Vincent Teng, who owned/worked at The Plain, was anxious that I’d neglected my flat white for far too long in favour of a book, and insisted on making me another.

But someone else going to the same cafe might not meet Vincent or Vincent might not notice their cold coffee etc, so how to describe a place in a way that might be useful for another person? Afterall, S$5-ish is quite a bit to spend on a caffeine drink, so other coffee-fans might benefit from reviews of the drink before they too splash out.

Now the photos below are useful for giving a feel of the place and even of how skilled the baristas are at latte art, but how to convey, say, the taste of the coffee?

Here’s my very amateur attempt at defining categories for review. Shall refine it as we get more experience and education!

  • beans
  • crema x microfoam
  • flavour x body
  • aftertaste

Of course, any attempt at certainty fails again on the variables of (i) the barista making your drinks; (ii) the human-ness of said barista, etc.

Ronin, in its industrial chic, raw cement, scrap wood, hanging lamps glory:

Photograph Rouse, 28 Hong Kong Street by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

Photograph Rouse, 28 Hong Kong Street by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

Photograph flat white, Rouse, 28 Hong Kong Street by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

  • beans: Genovese blend
  • crema x microfoam: smooth
  • flavour x body: good body, safe, generic
  • aftertaste: long-ish, creamy, sweet

And next, The Bravery, in its repurposed furniture, distressed walls, hanging naked bulb, concrete counter glory (design by Hjgher):

Photograph The Bravery, Horne Road, Singapore by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

Photograph The Bravery, Horne Road, Singapore by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

Photograph flat white coffee using Genovese beans, The Bravery, Horne Road, Singapore by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

  • beans: Genovese blend
  • crema x microfoam: a little foamy so you had to push the foam and got slight bitterness on your upper lip
  • flavour x body: watery
  • aftertaste: short, a little bitter
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