This “hole-in-the-wall” café might well be the smallest in the city, so here’s a tip: look out for the one with chairs hanging from the ceiling.

That’s right – an entire ceiling of wooden chairs floats above your head as you join the line of suits and ties waiting for their coffees to go at Brother Baba Budan. From the fading, peeling wallpaper to the name (the same 17th-century Sufi mentioned earlier), this café exudes a vintage coffee bar aura.

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Located at one corner of a row of shophouses in Bukit Timah, Necessary Provisions may not be the most accessible of cafés. Yet coffee lovers in the know will find their way to this sleepy neighbourhood, and with good reason: their baristas are some of the friendliest and warmest in this always-on-to-go city.

Opened by Darren Chang of Smitten Coffee and Tea Bar (another excellent café), Necessary Provisions makes up for its limited space with plenty of easy charm. A large round communal table seats a dozen effortlessly while another table displays their freshly baked creations.

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When is a café not a café? Singaporean-based coffee company Papa Palheta is trying to solve this riddle by doing it all – sourcing and roasting beans; serving coffee in its own outlets; selling espresso machines and brewing equipment; conducting coffee appreciation classes and workshops; and even running an online coffee subscription service.

Founder Leon Foo, 31, started the company as a coffee-roasting and wholesale business from the back of a little shophouse in Bukit Timah in 2009. Today the brand also includes a trio of cafés – Loysel’s Toy and Chye Seng Huat Hardware in Singapore, and most recently Pulp in Bangsar.

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Hidden in the somewhat shabby back streets of Collingwood is perhaps the crown jewel of the city’s café scene, Proud Mary. The warehouse-style café was opened in 2009 by Nolan Hirte who has assembled a crew of dedicated baristas, usually skinny, tattooed and bearded (the men, that is), to pump out great coffee non-stop.

The warm red brick walls, communal tables and high stools are matched by a colourful crowd of customers. There’s a vibrant vibe here: these juice junkies eagerly await their orders from the bar that is stocked with all manner of brewing equipment – pour-over, syphon, French press, Aeropress, and even a Clover coffee machine.

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