The Cup of Truth

We passed the board indicating the shops that dwelt underground, in the subway to Flinders Street Station. One name jumped out – “Cup of Truth” it said, matter-of-factly. It was so incongruous it made me laugh – like finding the Holy Grail at the back of a dusty charity shop, labelled “Holy Grail – used. 99p”.

Cup of Truth, 12 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Street Subway (below Flinders St)

Cup of Truth, 12 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Street Subway (below Flinders St) Cup of Truth (facebook, 12 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Street Subway, below Flinders Street) was infact a purveyor of coffee, and a rather famous one at that. The shop was named for the large red cup on the counter where customers were to pay and pick up change; the honesty cup.

Cup of Truth, 12 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Street Subway (below Flinders St) Cup of Truth, 12 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Street Subway (below Flinders St)In the hopper for espresso was a Cup of Truth blend from Axil Coffee Roasters. While waiting, had a little chat with the barista about how the Technivorm compared with a Wilfa, and how the consistency you get from an EK grinder made so much difference to the final drink.

We sat in the subway tunnel sipping our drinks. I very much enjoyed my flat white – almost as fragrant as an Ethiopian, even though the advertised blend on their FB page is 75% Brazil Ipanema, 25% Costa Rica El Pilon.

Then some of us wandered around – across from the coffee-in-the-wall, a singing Italian barber and a publisher of self-zines. Others of us went to get our Mykis topped up, not wanting to cheat the public transportation system.

Cup of Truth, 12 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Street Subway (below Flinders St)

Cup of Truth, 12 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Street Subway (below Flinders St)  Cup of Truth, 12 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Street Subway (below Flinders St)

Ah, the cup of Truth.

I thought of the Bible study group I’d been visiting back in Singapore – full of philosophy postgrad students and Oxon graduates, yet even with their obvious ability to read and comprehend vast stacks of material, they did not seem able to understand the most important book of all – the Bible.

It bothers me greatly that though they have such a treasure in their hand, they have shown themselves unable to enjoy the richness it contains. On their bookshelves, on their mobiles and laptops, the fountain of truth, containing living water that endlessly refreshes awaits, yet they have barely had a little sip to sustain themselves on the journey.

And any attempt I make to get them to look more closely at God’s word is seen as disruptive. Sure, it does rather break up the pointless meandering, but perhaps that’s exactly what’s necessary.

Coffee and Late Breakfast and Brunch in Melbourne

Brunch and coffee spots, said several Melburnians, were all the attractions we needed to pay attention to in this city. To aid our quest,

Broadsheet – Melbourne

The Urban List – Melbourne

Concrete Playground – Melbourne

City of Melbourne – Winter Guide 2015

Hidden Secrets Tours Melbourne

Smudge Eats

In Love With Brunch

Thus informed, our mornings became a week-long pilgrimage. This isn’t a buzzfeed list of Melbourne’s “top ten cafes you must visit before you die!”, but some favourites that we managed to get to. Of course, any casual review is profoundly subjective, affected by the weather that day, my mood, the interaction with the people I was with etc:

The Kettle Black

Instagram-worthy? Tick.

Design-savvy? Tick. Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: The Kettle Black Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: The Kettle Black (50 Albert Road) Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: The Kettle Black (50 Albert Road) Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: The Kettle Black (50 Albert Road)

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne The Kettle Black (50 Albert Road, facebook)’s classic but fresh interior design was courtesy of Studio You Me (Kestie Lane, Hana Hakim). A real delight to the eyes after all the faux-industrial cafes we get in Singapore. Cafe design is truly a thing in Melbs and the rest of the Antipodes – there’s even the Eat Drink Design Awards to highlight this.

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: The Kettle Black - hotcake, crayfish burger, beef steak burger

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: hotcake with ricotta, blueberries, pure maple, double cream and seeds

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: The Kettle Black - fresh crayfish in an ash roll, with purslane and local leaves, lime and yuzu mayo

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: The Kettle Black - Cape Grim fully-traceable beef with house-made mustard, seasonal fruit relish and leaves on the Kettle black bun And even the plating of the food was excellent. Festooned with edible flowers, a riot of colours, you might be forgiven for expecting that brunch that looks this good must be without substance. But these (especially the hotcake and beef burger), like math-teacher-male-supermodel Pietro Boselli, exceeded expectations.

Above: the hotcake with ricotta, blueberries, pure maple, double cream and seeds; Cape Grim fully-traceable beef with house-made mustard, seasonal fruit relish and leaves on the Kettle black bun; fresh crayfish in an ash roll, with purslane and local leaves, lime and yuzu mayo.

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: The Kettle Black (50 Albert Road)

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: The Kettle Black (50 Albert Road) - flat white, latte, hot chocolateSquare One Coffee Roasters provided the house blend of 50% Ethiopian Wote and 50% Guatemala Santa Isabel. The chocolate-toffee notes were strong in my cup – interesting how un-citrusy it was, especially given the African-Latin American blend.

Manchester Press

On the other side of the Yarra River, down a little alley, there is Manchester Press (facebook, 8 Rankins Lane).

Flat whites and brunch in Melbourne: Rankins Lane, outside Manchester Press

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne It’s housed in one of those spaces off Little Bourke Street that was once an industry useful in the last millenium – a printing press. Some might call this gentrification, but that is perhaps too narrow a view; perhaps this changing use of space indicates the succession of generations, as observed by John Adams:

The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Manchester Press (Rankins Lane)We are of the cafe-hopping generation, with the luxury to indulge in whimsical fancies. But soon, as the circle of history turns, our children might have to study politics and war.

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Manchester Press (Rankins Lane) - chia seed and coconut pudding with passionfruit coulis, topped with toasted oats, dried cranberries, and fresh berriesFor now, we can indulge in chia seed and coconut pudding with passionfruit coulis, topped with toasted oats, dried cranberries, and fresh berries, and edible flowers;

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne - Manchester Press (8 Rankins Lane) - Texas BBQ style pulled pork, slow roasted for 14 hours, soaked in BBQ sauce, and topped with homemade slaw and pickles in a bageland Texas BBQ style pulled pork, slow roasted for 14 hours, soaked in BBQ sauce, and topped with homemade slaw and pickles in a very good chewy bagel;

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Manchester Press (Rankins Lane) - toasted blueberry bagel with whipped raspberry mascarpone, fresh strawberries, and crushed pistachiosand toasted blueberry bagel with whipped raspberry mascarpone, fresh strawberries, and crushed pistachios;

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Machester Press (Rankins Lane)

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne:Manchester Press (Rankins Lane)and talk about how good the flat white is here – 8oz Coffee Co. providing the house blend that tasted so much like rich chocolate milk, I had to check that no one sneaked a cocoa dusting into my cup. Delicious.

Brother Baba Budan

Just out Rankins Lane, on the corner with Little Bourke Street, is Brother Baba Budan (twitter, 359 Little Bourke Street), named for the chappie who smuggled 7 coffee seeds out of the Middle East, thus breaking their hegemonic powers in the caffeine world, liberating the oppressed etc.

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Brother Baba Budan (359 Little Bourke Street)

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Brother Baba Budan (359 Little Bourke Street) Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Brother Baba Budan (359 Little Bourke Street)

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Brother Baba Budan (359 Little Bourke Street) Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Brother Baba Budan (359 Little Bourke Street)

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Brother Baba Budan (359 Little Bourke Street) - latte and flat whiteThis cosy cafe with its distressed walls and chairs hanging precariously overhead is a Seven Seeds Coffee Roasters outpost. I didn’t know if the blend was too light to come through the milk in the flat white or if it was a barista error – a decent cup, not a destination cup. The latte-drinker liked his milk drink much better than the one he got at Manchester Press though.

Captains of Industry

And then, just on the next alley off Little Bourke, Captains of Industry (facebook, Level 1, 2 Somerset Place) – describing themselves ironically (i think) as “The practitioners of Captains of Industry are Practical Men of Wide Experience offering the Good, the True and the Beautiful in traditional men’s outfitting and dining.”

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Captains of Industry (Level 1, 2 Somerset Place)It was a nice experience, sitting in a darkened space with naked bulbs hanging from a high ceiling, sharing the old table with an old sewing machine, or perched on the chairs looking out at fat little balls of sparrows flitting over Elizabeth Street.

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Captains of Industry (Level 1, 2 Somerset Place)

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Captains of Industry (Level 1, 2 Somerset Place) The flat white was what a reasonable gentleman might like on a cold blustery day after having given the morning’s sermon on Luke 10:25-37:

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Axil Coffee Roasters

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in MelbourneFlat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Axil Coffee Roasters Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne

A little further to the east, there was a long line for brunch at Axil Coffee Roasters (facebook, 322 Burwood Road, Hawthorn) on the Queen’s Birthday (8 June). We sat outside braving the cold, warming in the winter sun.

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Axil Coffee Roasters (322 Burwood Road, Hawthorn) Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Axil Coffee Roasters (322 Burwood Road, Hawthorn) - Queen's birthday cake

The birthday boy bought me brunch and I bought him the Queen’s birthday cake. It was so lovely to catch up with the old boy over a seemingly-healthy (and paleo) breakky. Was encouraged by his singlemindedness and thankful for the great situation that God has put him in – to be working under a pastor who too loves the Word and trusts VK to do the job without needless overbearing oversight. We reminisced a little about MY and the people we met during our time together in London. Lurve-ly.

Dr. Jekyll Cafe

Near St. Kilda Beach with the scary clown mouth of Luna Park, is Dr. Jekyll Cafe (facebook, 107-113 Grey Road, St. Kilda).

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne - Dr. Jekyll Cafe (107-113 Grey Street, St. Kilda) Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne - Dr. Jekyll Cafe (107-113 Grey Street, St. Kilda) Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne - Dr. Jekyll Cafe (107-113 Grey Street, St. Kilda) Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne - Dr. Jekyll Cafe (107-113 Grey Street, St. Kilda) - avocado and Meredith feta mash, with mint and lemon on rye toast, with a poached egg Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne - Dr. Jekyll Cafe (107-113 Grey Street, St. Kilda) Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne - Dr. Jekyll Cafe (107-113 Grey Street, St. Kilda)

Met an old friend there whom I hadn’t seen in decades (wow, I’ve always wanted to be old enough to say that without exaggeration!). I had the avocado and Meredith feta mash with mint and lemon on rye toast. Not being a great fan of that fatty fruit, I was under instructions to try it out on toast at least once in Melbs. Not bad actually!

HM quickly got to summarising the years that passed since our last meeting. She wanted to know how I became Christian, knowing that I was very much against it in school, and not being of the personality to follow trends. God’s grace, I said, worked out in:

  • how after investigating all the hypotheses found in philosophy, science, literature, politics, psychology etc., the Christian faith proved to have the best historical veracity of claimed facts, and the best internal consistency in the historical texts compiled in the Bible;
  • the Spirit working in my heart and mind so as to understand therefore, the dire state humanity is in because of our rebellion against God (by, fundamentally, not acknowledging him as God) and the gracious salvation offered by God’s son – if only we repented of our rebellion, turned, and acknowledged God as God, and Jesus as his son, who is able and will pay for the sins of the world.

She told me how she herself was getting on – wished I’d more words of assurance to offer, but those words would be empty ultimately. What she needed was God’s assurance – found, not in some whisper in the darkness, but in the comforting words of Scripture. God himself assures us about what reality really looks like, where this world is ultimately headed, and what the purpose in our life is. And so we do not despairingly “eat and drink for tomorrow we die”. Rather, we enjoy God’s gifts of food and drink and laughter in this creation, with thanksgiving to the Creator, fuel for the work to be done on earth, looking forward the new creation to come.

Hanging Out at Holland Village: La Nonna and Sunday Folks

Signature pizza, crab tomato cream linguine, La Nonna, 26 Lorong Mambong, Holland Village, Singapore
La Nonna, 26 Lorong Mambong, Holland Village, SingaporeThe 1-for-1 lunch promotion at La Nonna (Lorong Mambong, Holland Village) has drawn hungry students from the nearby National University of Singapore for some time. We had lunch with two of them this week, sharing the signature pizza (tomato, mozarella, asparagus, egg, parmesan, black truffle salsa), salmon e rucola pizza, and two crab linguine in tomato cream sauce.

Sunday Folks cafe, Chip Bee Gardens, 44 Jalan Mega Saga, Holland Village, Singapore

Sunday Folks cafe, Chip Bee Gardens, 44 Jalan Mega Saga, Holland Village, Singapore
Sunday Folks cafe, Chip Bee Gardens, 44 Jalan Mega Saga, Holland Village, Singapore
After the students headed back to school, two of us repaired to Sunday Folks (facebook, 44 Jalan Merah Saga) across the road for their weekday S$10 cake and coffee/tea set.

We were talking about how difficult it must be for pastors/ministers of churches not to show favouritism to the people who themselves treated these pastors/ministers well.

  1. Full-time Christian ministry is a tough job – long hours spent in the study understanding God’s word, more hours spent on your knees for the sheep, and then counselling many with relational/psychological/personal/godliness difficulties, and dealing with the line of people waiting after service to tell them what exactly they disagree with in the sermon or running of the church etc.
  2. So, spending all waking moments dealing with sinful humans could very well be immensely discouraging, and it isn’t surprising that many ministers suffer from depression.
  3. But, said the friend who had been diagnosed with clinical depression, the temptation is to then depend on other people, other humans, for love, support, approval. Sadly, because they too are sinful human beings living in this fallen world, they may betray you, disappoint you, or, even if they were a perfect companion for life, they might die on you (and here the friend cited the Lee Kuan Yew – Kwa Geok Choo partnership). Also: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6)
  4. Unfortunately, positive thinking, or being thankful for the good things in one’s life falls flat as well – it feel stilted and artificial especially when you’re already very down, and sometimes, objectively, there just isn’t much good in one’s life!
  5. Much better to trust in One who is eternal (won’t die), and who is in control of all things (not impotent to help), and who loves us so much that he died for our sins (more than willing to help).

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:4-8)

 

Sunday Folks cafe, Chip Bee Gardens, 44 Jalan Mega Saga, Holland Village, SingaporeThe Sticky Toffee Cake was, as the name suggested, more spongy than the usual heavy-in-the-tummy sticky toffee pudding, and a good foil to the slightly over-extracted coffee.

flat white. Sunday Folks cafe, Chip Bee Gardens, 44 Jalan Mega Saga, Holland Village, Singapore

  • beans: Liberty Coffee‘s Speakeasy Blend
  • crema x microfoam: good
  • flavour x body: nutty and a little burnt
  • aftertaste: medium

Retro Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) Flats, Dakota Crescent, Singapore

Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, Singapore
Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, Singapore
Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, SingaporePost-training session, I was caught in that sweet limbo between dog-tired and strangely exhilarated, so decided to walk off the adrenaline around the old school Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats at Dakota Crescent.

Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, Singapore
Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, Singapore
Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, Singapore
Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, SingaporeClassic circular stone tables and chairs that are better for yabbers with neighbours

Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, Singaporethan the current HDB preference for benches.

Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, Singapore
Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, Singapore
Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, SingaporeOriginal wooden doors, some painted cheerful colours – the signal flag of gentrification by yuppies and hipsters? ;-o

It was quiet there with a good breeze coming between the flats. But this wasn’t the eerie quietness of abandonment, decay, and death. There was evidence of life – a chalk drawing on the strangely-new badminton court, a boy on a skate-scooter wheeling past to chat and ask to see my photos, and then, music and dancing!

Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, Singapore
Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, Singapore

This “nostalgic playground” was was designed by HDB’s Khor Ean Ghee in 1979. It is immensely charming and built to last, unlike the fading and cracking plastic stuff in fashion now. Aesthetics aside, the whole construction is spread-out enough so that children have the freedom to choose how they want to use the structure without getting on top of each other or having to wait their turn:
Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, Singapore
Dove Playground, Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, Singapore

There were quite a few old cats around, chilling in the shade:
"Please do not throw cats here!". Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, Singapore
cat in plants. Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, Singapore

And a place isn’t old school and retro enough if it doesn’t attract a hipster coffee shop! So here’s Tian Kee & Co. (12 Dakota Crescent, facebook) – they took over the premises of a provision shop that’d been there for the last 54 years.
Tian Kee Cafe, Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, Singapore
Tian Kee Cafe, Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, SingaporeTian Kee Cafe, Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, Singapore
Tian Kee Cafe, Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, Singapore

Tian Kee Cafe, Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, Singapore
Tian Kee Cafe, Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, Singapore

  • beans: didn’t ask, but the internet says it is a Dutch Colony blend
  • crema x microfoam: cappucino-thick
  • flavour x body: full-bodied cocoa with faint hint of caramel
  • aftertaste: medium

Dakota Free Library:
Dakota Free Library, Tian Kee Cafe, Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, SingaporeTaking a leaf from Rawls, it was quite a novel thing not to instinctively accuse the authorities of always spoiling things and then to hunt for that petition to sign to prevent the redevelopment of Dakota Crescent, but to:

  • assume that HDB has the welfare of the residents at heart, even if these residents are merely renting the flats;
  • find out the rationale for the relocation. A quick Google brought up this article where the Member of Parliament for Mountbatten, Mr Lim Biow Chuan said this was “ to improve the living conditions of the residents there”. Regular lift breakdowns in the blocks there and the age of the flats meant that moving to a newer flat with the mod cons would be more beneficial to the old folks in the long-term.

I suspect we are so sinful that we have forgotten that speaking ill of another without verification is slander, and slander (“a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report”) is wrong, whether or not someone sues you for it in a human court of law.

Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats, Dakota Crescent, Singapore

Worldview Bias in Instructional Models in Education, and Stalking Flat Whites in the Coffee Shops of Singapore

If Singapore was a safari and flat whites were exotic animals…

[In your best David Attenborough voice] Singapore. One of the many places on earth where  you can experience the full majesty of the coffee bean. There’s so much more in the bean than we ever imagined…etc…

It came as a shock to me, one day in my not-very-innocent-anyway youth, to realise that the glorious (educational) nature programmes like the ones Attenborough narrates are by no means objective; they are heavily skewed in favour of the worldview of the writers/narrators.

Then this afternoon, while considering the instructional design model to use for several groups I’ll be training in the next few months, I realised again that such models are by no means objective:

  • they are highly dependent on learning theories, and
  • these are themselves dependent on epistemological presuppositions,
  • which cannot be separated from all sorts of wobbly foundations of metaphysical nature.

Which would be best to instruct people on how to understand the Bible for themselves, rightly interpreting Scripture?

To be discussed another time. For now, the continuing search for the best flat white in Singapore, and an attempt at objective reviews of the coffee (disregarding ambience, instagrammability, service, convenience of location etc.):

Wimbly Lu, Singapore Wimbly Lu, SingaporeIn the lowlands of Lorong Chuan, a curious red-and-white beast marks the entrance of Wimbly Lu (15-2 Jalan Riang, facebook). Within the narrow confines of the cafe, the smell of chocolate is strong. For a place where coffee isn’t the focus, they make a decent cup.

One Man Coffee, 215R Upper Thomson Road, Singapore One Man Coffee, 215R Upper Thomson Road, Singapore One Man Coffee, 215R Upper Thomson Road, SingaporeOne Man Coffee (215R Upper Thomson Road)

  • beans: One Man Coffee Seasonal Espresso Blend (Brazilian, Columbian), Axil Coffee Roasters (facebook)
  • crema x microfoam: bright
  • flavour x body: a promising decent cocoa-citrus body at first
  • aftertaste: watery

Assembly Coffee, 26 Evans Road, Singapore Assembly Coffee, 26 Evans Road, Singapore Assembly Coffee, 26 Evans Road, Singapore Assembly Coffee, 26 Evans Road, SingaporeAssembly Coffee (26 Evans Road, facebook)

  • beans: Speakeasy Blend, Liberty Coffee (facebook)
  • crema x microfoam: good microfoam, cocoa
  • flavour x body: creamy milk chocolate, macadamia nut
  • aftertaste: medium finish

The New Black Coffee, 1 Upper Circular Road, Singapore The New Black Coffee, 1 Upper Circular Road, Singapore The New Black Coffee, 1 Upper Circular Road, Singapore The New Black Coffee, 1 Upper Circular Road, Singapore The New Black Coffee, 1 Upper Circular Road, SingaporeThe New Black Coffee (1 Upper Circular Road) – was very excited to stumble upon this. Almost like a enomatic machine for coffee!

  • beans: Caballero (Honduran), Tim Wendleboe!!
  • crema x microfoam: micro-smoothness, red fruit?
  • flavour x body: creamy chocolate
  • aftertaste: long finish
  • beans: Sermon (Brazilian, El Salvadoran, Ethiopian), Verve Coffee Roasters
  • crema x microfoam: smooth
  • flavour x body: a hint of blue berry in cocoa
  • aftertaste: medium finish

Chye Seng Huat Hardware CSHH Coffee Bar, 150 Tyrwhitt Road, Singapore Chye Seng Huat Hardware CSHH Coffee Bar, 150 Tyrwhitt Road, Singapore Chye Seng Huat Hardware CSHH Coffee Bar, 150 Tyrwhitt Road, Singapore Chye Seng Huat Hardware CSHH Coffee Bar, 150 Tyrwhitt Road, Singapore Chye Seng Huat Hardware CSHH Coffee Bar, 150 Tyrwhitt Road, Singapore Chye Seng Huat Hardware CSHH Coffee Bar, 150 Tyrwhitt Road, Singapore Chye Seng Huat Hardware CSHH Coffee Bar, 150 Tyrwhitt Road, Singapore Chye Seng Huat Hardware CSHH Coffee Bar, 150 Tyrwhitt Road, Singapore chicken ramly. Chye Seng Huat Hardware CSHH Coffee Bar, 150 Tyrwhitt Road, SingaporeChye Seng Huat Hardware (CSHH) Coffee Bar (150 Tyrwhitt Road, facebook)

  • beans: probably Terra Firma, Papa Palheta?
  • crema x microfoam: cocoa, nut, smooth
  • flavour x body: cream, cocoa, nut
  • aftertaste: medium finish

Double B Coffee & Tea, Moscow

London -> Harwich -> Hoek of Holland -> Amsterdam (Holland) -> Copenhagen (Denmark) -> Stockholm (Sweden) -> Riga (Latvia) -> Moscow (Russia)

Photograph Double B Coffee & Tea, Moscow, Russia by parentheticalpilgrim on 500pxFlat-white drinking is never more pleasurable than when it is to warm a body that has been trudging through Moscow streets in sub-freezing temperatures.

Photograph Double B Coffee & Tea, Moscow, Russia by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

Photograph Double B Coffee & Tea, Moscow, RussiaDouble B Coffee & Tea, Moscow, Russia by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px
Scored a seat in Double B Coffee & Tea (Милютинский переулок, 3 (Milyutinskiy pereulok, 3)) and thought it extremely cute how the usual coffee drinks had been rendered in Cyrillic. Yes, they’d said, of course they could do a flat white even if it wasn’t a menu. Where was I from?

Photograph flat white, Double B Coffee & Tea, Moscow, Russia by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

Then, the coffee chat trope about beans and machines.

Photograph Double B Coffee & Tea, Moscow, Russia by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

On the next table, a group of university boys were talking loudly about going to Singapore in a mixture of English and Russian:
“Where is it?”
“What language do they speak there?”
“That’s very far away! Is it safe?”
“Wow, you’re very brave to be going there.”

The Porosity of Borders, Myth of the Country, and International Student Ministry

London -> Harwich -> Hoek of Holland -> Amsterdam (Holland) -> Copenhagen (Denmark) -> Stockholm (Sweden) -> Riga (Latvia)

Photograph Kronvalda Park, Riga, Latvia by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

Countries. States. Nations. The myth of borders. The conflation of cartography with reality. The assumption of fixed geography separating distinct genetics, cultures, practices, languages, thought-patterns, worldviews.

These folk ballads of uniqueness are what undergird much nationalism, nativism, anti-immigration policies. But how firm are these foundations?

  • first, as political entities, nations are particularly fragile. Any flip through the history books tells us that much;
  • whether co-cumbent with politics or not, the lines that delineate the state too are morphous and its edges, even in times of political stability, fairly vague.
  • thirdly, with international or cross-border trade inevitably comes the exchange of ideas and thoughts, and even cultures. And in this day and age of the internet,
  • And what of the practice of endogamy, enforced by political powers in various places in history? What if no person was truly local?

I was telling a Latvian the names of two guys I knew – Martins and Miroslavs. “Miroslavs” is not Latvian, he’d sniffed, that is a Russian name with an “s” stuck at the end to make it seem Latvian. But poor Miroslavs had been born and brought up in Latvia and called it his home, knowing no other. Would he be welcomed as a local if he’d merely changed his name?

What can Americans mean by being against migrants when most of them (other than American Indians) only arrived on that continent a few generations ago? The same question can be asked of Australians (other than the Aboriginal people), and of the citizens of many countries clamouring for nativism. In fact, if we backed up far enough in anyone’s family, we’d find that they weren’t always living in the same geographical area, and even if by some small chance they were, that little patch of land would not always have been within political boundaries of the same homogeneity.

Photograph mittens "lovingly hand-knit by latvian grandmothers" by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

Photograph mittens "lovingly hand-knit by latvian grandmothers" by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

These mittens say they have been “lovingly hand-knit by Latvanian grandmothers”, scoring high on fuzzy authenticity. But what if I told you though the experienced hands that manufactured these were local, the mitten patterns were designed by a Japanese lady living in England, based on Latvian and Scandinavian patterns? Would that make them less authentically Latvian? If you wanted to “buy Latvian”, would these make the cut?

Photograph poster for the performance of Reinis Zariņš, Riga, Latvia by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

You say “čaikovskis”, I say “Tchaikovsky”. And what about “classical music”? One cannot say it is authentically Latvian, though neither can one identify it as the music of Austria or Germany or Italy.

And what of imported authenticity? That is, authenticity that isn’t locally traditional (if that can ever be defined) but is part of an internationally recognised conceptual package?

Photograph Miit Tiim Cafe, Riga, Latvia by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

Photograph Miit Tiim Cafe, Riga, Latvia by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px Photograph Miit Tiim Cafe, Riga, Latvia by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

Photograph Miit Tiim Cafe, Riga, Latvia by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

Photograph Miit Tiim Cafe, Riga, Latvia by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

The third wave, specialist coffee movement is a good example. in most countries, it can be in no way authentic in relation to its products: coffee beans being commercially grown in only a few countries. Yet all across the world, these places sell authenticity – back-to-basics, grassroots, homemade, vintage, unprocessed comfort.

Whne came upon Miit Coffee (facebook, Lāčplēša iela 10), it seemed terribly familiar. The coffee counter (with its uncommon Opera coffee machine), the bicycles hung precariously on grey walls, the plaid shirt and beard and thick-rimmed glasses combo, the denim aprons with their assymetrical leather straps, the vegetarian/vegan food menu, the brewing options (espresso, in milk, Chemex, V60, Aeropress), the coffee beans identified by their varietal and place of origin. (The beans were bought from Andrito Coffee Roasting which was founded by former Latvian Barista Champion Andris Petkēvičs. The fact that there was even a barista championship of course indicated the pervasity of this non-Latvian culture.)

Photograph Miit Coffee, Riga, Latvia by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

L the Latvian was amused. E the Singaporean was delighted at the prospect of “normality”. I, not having eaten anything since that bowl of soup a few posts ago, was just plain ravenous. That plate of vegan food was mighty fine as was the coffee, but hey I could be biased.

Now how about international student ministry or international ministry within a church?

To the Galatians, Paul wrote:

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:28-29)

  • There is an equality amongst Christians that is more than political-correctness. It is an equality because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and all have been saved by the death of his Son.
  • Why is there a tendency then, especially in U.K. churches, to separate the foreigners from the locals if they can all speak the same language? And how would you define someone as foreign or local – by citizenship? By skin colour? If so, would you direct a black American to “the international group”?
  • If it is because of different practices that they are split, then doesn’t God’s word advise that these are all opportunities to show love to each other?
  • How would this church tendency entrench prevailing attitudes of people seeing another with a different accent or skin colour as the Other, the altern?
  • And, in any case, how would this cohere with what has been discussed above?

(About a month ago. a curate from London was a visiting speaker in Singapore. While we were having tea, he pointed to the thick toast we were sharing and asked,”Where did you get bread from? Is it from the Brits?” This was as if I’d gone to London and asked if they’d gotten their tea from the Chinese or Indians. It was probably mere small chat, but it hurt because the mere assumption of alien-ness reinforced the gulf between us, when we should have been brother and sister. I probably didn’t help much, being sarcastic in my reply and mentioning “colonial masters”.)

Photograph breakfast at the Latvian grandparents' house, Riga by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

Photograph dinner at the Latvian grandparents' house, Riga by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px That night, we were hosted by L’s grandparents. Her grandmother prepared a feast for us, then she and her husband retreated to the kitchen. No, no, they wouldn’t want to eat with us – they didn’t understand English, so they would eat, standing up, by the cooker. Much as I appreciated her embarrassment, this was also one of the few times in my life that I’d been starkly reminded that I am first and foremost an Outsider, a Stranger, a Foreigner, an Alien.

Photograph Latvian grandmother's flower arrangement by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px