Papa Palheta – A secret cafe

May 30, 2010

Papa Palheta's flat whites

I discovered the existence of Papa Palheta a while back while reading some blogs. It’s a place so secret, they don’t even have a signboard on their front door. And speaking of their front door, I think they don’t have one either! 140 Bukit Timah Road. Yes we managed to find 140 alright, but it looked like a disused office with the shutters all pulled down. The place faces the main road, yet you would definitely drive right past even if you were searching for it. Which actually speaks volumes for the owners’ confidence in their product, don’t you agree?

We didn’t drive all the way here to leave disappointed, so we finally spied a namecard stuck to the front door with the magic words ”Papa Palheta, try the back door”. What on earth, teasing us and telling us to try the back door! Is this a secret society or what? We turned the corner, and voila, we located the very packed Papa Palheta.

                         Papa Palheta Back DoorPapa Palheta Courtyard

We were ushered by a young girl past the back courtyard where some customers were seated, and past the front counter into what looked like a living room. It was a colourful and bright looking room, with a motley assortment of quaint looking furniture. We sat next to a cupboard full of bits of cloth, and an old type-writer. I suppose there are no new type-writers now? No new non-electric typewriters anyway.

We asked for menus but the girl said that Papa Palheta doesn’t charge for the drinks! The coffee is free for customers to sample, and what they really want to sell are the beans. Papa Palheta’s key competencies are in roasting and serving specialty coffee. They retail and roast coffee beans from around the world, focussing on estate, Micro-Lot and single-origin coffees. Free drinks, I want! So we ordered 3 flat whites and a cappucino for the 4 of us. Many of the other customers order iced-coffee, which I shall do so for my next visit. (Ok disclaimer, they operate by a tip system, so you either buy their coffee beans or you leave them a tip)

Papa Palheta Cappucino with rosetta

The coffee came in little glasses with saucers and a complementary bikkie. We were given the Terra-Firma blend of beans, ie the house blend. Wow, the coffee was good. It was intense, full-bodied and smooth. It was very good. All 4 of us agreed that Papa Palheta had a winner here and the 3 of them thanked me for introducing them to this gem of a place (pat pat pat on the back). I am not so sure that they would be pleased to know that I have now let loose the existence of this secret hideout to the world.

Palheta by the way, was the name of Brazilian Lieutenant Colonel Palheta, who was sent to smuggle some coffee seeds from French Guiana in order for Brazil to start its own coffee plantations. Check out Papa Palheta’s website as well as a map of their location.

Papa Palheta living room

The pretty living room

 Papa Palheta Old Typewriter 

Old Typewriter

Papa Palheta side table with glass container for tips

They request for $3.50 per cuppa but you are free to tip as you please.

Papa Palheta 250gm coffee beans

250gm bag of coffee beans

Papa Palheta Front Counter and drip station  

The front counter

Papa Palheta back door entrance

So now you know where to find Papa Palheta

Papa Palheta Speciality Coffee

140 Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 229840

Enter by Hooper Road

Telephone: 97990420


Tuesdays to Fridays 9am to 7.30pm

Saturdays 9am to 9pm

Sundays and Public Holidays 9am to 7.30pm


    • You should try this place when you are free. I’m sure you would love it very much too. Maybe it can knock Tully’s off pole position?

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