Posted on Mon, 26 Mar 2012
Bewildering Oriole Coffee Roasters
I was going to have breakfast with a foodie girlfriend here in Singapore, and we wanted to try something new. Having heard so much about Oriole Coffee Roasters, we decided to make the trek there. I was pretty curious about their precision cooked soft-boiled eggs and high class single estate coffees, which is a growing trend in these parts. These guys were also taking the typical Singaporean brekkie to a higher level. And so, we arranged to meet there at 10am. Never been there before, we were in the vicinity at 10am – me on foot having parked the car, and she in a cab – and ended up walking and wandering all over the area for the next half hour.
Not easy to find – and I swear we didn’t see a road sign for Jiak Chuan Road – it was located near the end of a cul de sac, with a discreet brown saloon style swing door marking the entrance. The interior was dim with two large communal tables squatting in the middle of the space, a bright orange roaster behind a glass panel further in and all sorts of shiny, swanky coffee-making paraphernalia on the left.
A bespectacled lady bustles around the empty café, regards us wordlessly for a few moments, then goes about doing her thing. We stand there for a while looking genial, but we might as well have been a pair of germ-laden lice on the floor. She ignores us…and a little self doubt starts creeping in. Do we smell? Are we that ugly? But having taken the trouble to find our way there, we were illogically determined to persevere despite life’s obstacles. Our smiles were still pasted but admittedly straining on the edges.
About five minutes past and finally a younger lady emerges from what I figure must be the kitchen area. She spots us almost at once across the yawning emptiness between us, and sweeps her arm across the two tables. “Take a seat,” she tells us. Ah! Finally – service!
We pull out stools and perch ourselves by the outer table. Cutlery, plates, napkins and a plastic container of pastries and cakes sit in the middle. She comes over and passes us a little menu. We order their signature 63ºC Free-range eggs ($5.20 for two) served with “premium soy sauce sourced from a local producer”, some Pandan-kaya butter toast ($3.50) and two cups of latte. For something pretty straightforward, we waited about 20 minutes for the food to appear. The latte wasn’t a single estate job, but for my morning caffeine fix I wasn’t prepared to fork out $15 a cup. Fine, if I was a particular connoisseur, but not that morning, thanks.
The eggs were silky, smooth and warm, and wobbly soft, but honestly, not very different from a good kopitiam job. Just that this one didn’t come out from a Made In China plastic mug. The coffee was good, aromatic and creamy, and the kaya toast reminded me of the Killiney Kopitiam toast. Thick bread, slightly bouncy and a decent lashing of good kaya. Not bad, but for me, it couldn’t compete with Ya Kun’s peerless pieces – thin and crisp, the way I like it.
But good to know, this place offers a range of old fashioned nibbles like O’School strawberry buttercream cake ($3.20), Custard cream puff ($2.50), Tau sar piah (salted mung bean pastry $1.50) and Pong piah (sticky malt pastry $1.50). There’s even humble bites like Peanut butter toast ($2.50), Nutella toast ($2.50) as well as gourmet bits like truffle scrambled eggs & toast ($6.50). It’s cute and irreverent, and you have to give it to them for being bold and out of the box in every way.
But all this is second fiddle to its onsite roasting, barista expertise apparently behind every cuppa, and serious single estate brews that change seasonally. It’s a roller coaster of caffeinated delights!
Would I potter back? Maybe for the single estate coffee if I am in the mood to discover. The food’s nothing to scream about, but if I were in the vicinity, needed a fashionable spot for my coffee, and was suddenly gripped by an insatiable urge to be ignored again, yes, I may well pop in!
10/10A Jiak Chuan Road (off Neil Road)
Tel: 6224 8131