Have you ever visited a ‘pure’ café? One which did not serve any food, not even a morsel of cake – only coffee, and pure black coffee at that.

We enter this café, dimly lit like a pub, possibly a beer tavern, wondering what we have gotten ourselves into. Could we really only simply drink coffee? Deep inside is a long bar where Japanese baristas from an age that had not heard of the term ‘hipster’ take their time with their brewing.

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The first thing you notice is a tray of Farmhouse milk cartons next to the staircase. Upon closer inspection, these turn out to be emptied cartons filled with spent coffee grounds. A sign says “FREE” and the fine print reveals the used grounds are good as plant fertilizer and deodorisers for kitchens, toilets and any rooms with strong smells.

Surely an unusual introduction to a café but after walking a flight of stairs, it’s easy to understand what sort of café The Brew Culture is. The brainchild of fellow high schoolmates and former engineers Hiew Kuei Yin and Jeffrey Ng, this new café was built with the environmentally friendly 3Rs motto in mind.

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Suplicy Cafés Especiais, São Paulo

When in Rome do as Romans do. So when we find ourselves in São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil (and indeed South America), we knew we had to take the lead from the locals. This means starting the day late like a real Paulistano (what São Paulo residents call themselves) and lingering for a while longer than necessary in bed before strolling to a café for breakfast at a time when most folks elsewhere are considering their lunch options. We could hardly do better…Continue Reading “Suplicy Cafés Especiais, São Paulo”

Nestled in the back alleys of Taichung’s Little Europe is a small café nearly hidden by trees in the garden. Light blue walls, white windows, the sort that takes your breath away with its domestic simplicity. What bliss!

Here cats roam free like little lions, lazy and comfortable in their surroundings, a feeling we share instantaneously.

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Some cafés look like they’ve existed since forever, confident of its own place in their neighbourhood. Others look brand new, as though they had just sprung up overnight, bright and cheerful like a Willy Wonka-style, fun-filled fungus.

And there are those who manage the fine balance of being both established yet fresh — the sort of café you look forward to spending time in, whether for a few quick minutes before heading to the office in the morning or a leisurely weekend afternoon reading an engrossing book.

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