“I am a coffee fanatic. Once you go to proper coffee, you can’t go back. You cannot go back.”
As recent as 2010, Singapore was hit by a wave of artisan coffee houses, stemming from the Melbourne café scene that has pretty much took over the whole world. It’s no doubt that Singaporeans will always crave for better quality, and will jump on the first available choice AND be more than willing to shell out a premium. However it still remains a cut-throat arena; out of the 391 cafes that opened in 2014, at least a quarter of them didn’t make the cut since. That’s a lot of coffee going both ways!
Also, I personally observe that a lot of these cafés popping up like rabbits aren’t really that serious about the literal meaning of a café; well, the coffee.
Stephanie Phua (Duo Studio)
Stephanie of Duo Studio sought out to disprove that by bringing me to a relatively new coffeehouse in the vicinity of her agency, in Jalan Besar. Speaking of the area, it’s a really under-the-radar and eclectic enclave of coffeehouses and small restaurants!
Creative & advertising agencies similarly have a tough life over here, and she’s glad that she can find such a place just round the corner that not only is a good place to tune out/do work in peace, but also has a satisfying dining experience.
Started by coffee connoisseurs and professionals Joy and Aslam, VXX Cooperative takes pride in their coffee-centric nature, which is evident in the curation of available roasted brews. With a mix of local favourites Nylon Coffee Roasters, Cloud Catcher Roastery (Malaysia), Koppi (Sweden) and Tim Wendelboe (Norway), it’s a special kind of heaven for serious coffee enthusiasts. Coupled with the strong experience of both former baristas themselves, Joy and Aslam are able to bring out the best of what are already among the best roasts in town.
If you wanted to know, “VXX” is something of sentimental value to Aslam, as it is the area code (520) of the district.
I’m a relatively technical person myself, and I love it when being explained to the facts and technical aspects of just about anything, especially food. This was exactly the experience I got; Joy was really patient and enthusiastic to introduce the profiles of the special brews on sale that day and I made an informed choice to get the Nacimiento by Tim Wendelboe. Served in a metal flask, it’s meant to be enjoyed slowly to allow the aromatics time to vaporise and give you an olfactory treat.
If any, their logo is a good representation of their culture: sharp but multi-directional curation. Located at 20 Foch Road, the interior is nicely spaced, minimalistic yet comfortable. The flowery floor tiles were probably because it used to be a dispensary back in the days. It’s not somewhere you’d want to have a 50 seats birthday party at, but like Stephanie, it’s a pretty good place if you want some peace and quiet. When you enter the shop’s front hall you’ll be greeted with a really large flat wooden table, possible with some coffee drips running on it. Take your pick with the merchandise just next to it too, when I was there, I saw some really good chocolate!
In fact, she got so comfy with the place that her coffee choices are simply picked for her and she does not have to worry about not enjoying whatever is served! Joy does not disappoint.
The food menu is something that constantly evolves, but keeps to their principle of serving simple food to a T. I do agree to not over-complicating your food as a café owner as it will rob the attention from the beverages, and turn you into one of those red-velvet-cake-eggs-benedict-please hipster cafés.
Opting for something balanced and light I’ve opted for the banana-walnut french toast, topped up with mascarpone cheese, berries and coffee custard. Stephanie (aka stooffi) got basically what she always orders: a beef chorizo bowl with shaved potatos and tomatoes, topped with a perfectly wobbly *jiggle* onsen egg. According to her this is the third iteration of the same dish, and it is rather different in terms of presentation and preparation style from the predecessors.
There are also several other interesting creations from breakfast items to full lunch menus. I heard the dessert is also to die for, so get them before they change the menu (yet again)!
At the time of writing both Rudi and Joy are taking part in the Singapore National Brewers Cup 2017, happening at Cafe Asia 2017 over at MBS this weekend! All the best!
“every memorable coffee experience has been brought about by a change or exceeding of expectations” Joy is using a Lempira cultivar from Honduras, which totally exceeded and changed our expectations! This gem was produced by Alex Ponce, sourced by @projectorigin, roasted by @cloudcatcher.asia and brewed & served by VXX. go Joy! #praytherealliveforever #sgcoffee
Nondescript shopfront, minimalistic furniture, artisan food and beverages? Check!
While you have to be prepared for some premium in prices, care is taken to prepare the food and (especially) coffee. You won’t feel shortchanged at all!
See above. Portions are just right regardless if you want a midday snack, or a hearty lunch.
Definitely a good local effort to bring quality coffee to the scene (a refreshing change in my opinion). They change up every 3-4 months to keep things fresh too, so you won’t get bored.
Want to tell me about a hole in the wall in your neighborhood? Write to me!