Ever since I became aware of the differences between local coffee (ie Kopi) vs European coffee I’ve always wondered why it is that I still like Kopi so much. Did you know that European Coffee, or Ang Moh coffee if you will, you know, the Starbucks or 3rd wave coffee cafe kinds, make use of different coffee beans as compared to our local coffeeshop coffee?
Ang Moh coffee uses Arabica beans, which are supposedly superior in quality as compared to Robusta coffee beans used in local coffee. Arabica coffee beans are grown at an altitude of 1000 — 2000m in altitude where as Robusta is grown at 700m or lower. Needless to say, the Arabica coffee beans end up being more expensive. To boot, Robusta coffee bean plant are easier to care for as they are more robust, hence the name Robusta.
I definitely do love my gourmet foreign coffee from 3rd wave cafes. You can tell from my blog that I’ve been cafe hopping a lot over the past few years! But I’m thankful that I can still appreciate a good cup of kopi as well! The reason why I’m thankful is because kopi is so much cheaper than foreign coffee! I can’t imagine paying $5 a day just to have my caffeine fix! The Partner on the other hand, loathes local kopi and can’t imagine how anyone could drink what he would describe as black acid tar. When he’s around, we go to cafes. When I’m with the BFF, we go to Yakun and Toastbox. Once again, I’m just thankful that I am able to have a choice of either going local or going more atas.
So when I heard about the Nanyang Kopi Appreciation Workshop organised by ToastBox, I thought it the perfect opportunity for me to increase my knowledge on this intricate matter. After all, I’ve been to a gourmet coffee bean roasting session when I was in Taiwan, so why not sit in for a local session?
The Nanyang Kopi Appreciation Workshop was held at the spanking new BreadTalk IHQ Mall.
All the enthusiastic participants awaiting the start of the workshop
Tools of the trade…
This guy was the presenter for the day, and is also a consultant for the BreadTalk Group. He shared with us that when ToastBox was merely an idea on the drawing board, numerous taste tests (think hundreds) were done to perfect the blend that would subsequently become what you now know as ToastBox kopi.
Similar with all local brews, ToastBox’s kopi also largely makes use of the Robusta beans. I was surprised to know that some Arabica beans goes into the mix as well for aroma. A small amount of Liberica coffee beans are used as well to give it extra character. I’d never heard of Liberica coffee beans until it was mentioned during the workshop itself. One learns something new everyday!
Coffee cherries all the way to roasted coffee beans
A nifty looking coffee bean roaster. I wonder if coffee connoisseurs would be interested to purchase a machine like this to have freshly roasted coffee beans anytime they desire?
Closer look of the roasted coffee beans
Can you guess what this is? I’ll give you a clue. Believe it or not, these are coffee beans that came out of a cat’s bum! You can thank the civet cat’s digestive juices for helping you to shed the beans from the coffee cherries. The cherry fruit is digested while the undigestible beans come popping out of the cat’s bum. It’s the enzymes in the civet cat’s stomach that have imparted the touted exquisite flavour into the world famous Kopi Luwak. I really wonder who on earth was possessed enough to be the first to give this a try?
My BFF posing with the kopi luwak coffee beans as well as a tiny sample of the famed drink. ToastBox couldn’t give us a bigger serving or else they’d go bankrupt, as this is probably the most expensive coffee in the world. Can’t taste the difference to be frank. Maybe with some milk or sugar I might. I was having some mental block seeing the excreted coffee beans right in front of me.
We were also treated to a quick display of coffee making skills by the current ToastBox staff. Here you can see them trying to scoop exactly 11 grams of sugar just by sight and feel! They remind me of the Shaolin Kungfu masters you often see on TV!
And we were also treated to a showcase of the art of coffee-pulling. It’s hard enough trying to pull the coffee yourself. Check out the 4th photo where they are pulling coffee into each other’s mugs! One false move and it’s MC for 1 week I think!
I thought I’d be a hero and have a go at it too.
And last but not least, a ToastBox staff demonstrating how to use the home brew kit. I think we are all familiar with the French Press, but this $15 gadget from ToastBox has been specially designed to allow you to make your own drip coffee without too much hassle. If you want to have your very own ToastBox coffee maker, you can purchase it here.
I will leave you with an interesting coffee fact. Did you know that Singapore is one of the cheapest places amongst the 1st world nations for coffee? Singapore is also one of the biggest consumers of coffee in the world. We Singaporeans drink an estimated 4.4kg per capita! Hmm, but on second thoughts, that isn’t a lot. If you drink coffee once a week you’d break that average. I can well understand why we drink so much coffee here in Singapore, with prices lesser than $2 per cup as compared to European countries!
The workshop was held at the spanking new BreadTalk IHQ mall. Check out my pictures of the mall.
BreadTalk IHQ / Mall
30 Tai Seng Street, Singapore 534013
Tel : 6444 5258
How to get to BreadTalk IHQ