Chye Seng Huat Hardware, Singapore

The historical Jalan Besar neighbourhood is pretty quiet on Sundays. The rows of post-colonial shophouses have settled into a relative calm after a week of relentless industry. There are ringing chimes and chanting of mantras by devotees at the Thekchen Choling Tibetan Buddhist temple at Beatty Lane. Soon the Sunday service will convene at the church opposite.

A few doors away an unassuming hardware store stands along Tyrwhitt Road, gleaming white with what appears to be a fresh coat of paint over its Art Deco façade. Peer through the square grilles of the windows and you might observe a rather different sort of hardware being put to use: an espresso machine.


This dramatic contrast might befuddle casual visitors but Singaporean coffee aficionados can appreciate the paradox: old-time Chye Seng Huat Hardware is now the coolest bean in town.

The original name of the disused hardware store (established in 1950) was actually Keat Seng Metals. Café founder Leon Foo (of specialty coffee purveyor Papa Palheta fame) came up with the new moniker after discussions with his landlord. Launched in August 2012, it has proved to be an auspicious one (‘Chye Seng Huat’ means “to flourish” in Hokkien) for though we arrive only a few minutes after opening, the café is already half-full.

How to get inside though? The front entrance is closed up, and if you’ve tried waving at hipster coffee types you know the sort of response you’re likely to get, much less through iron bars and glass windows.

A little detective work reveals a garage door next to the main building, slightly ajar. Beyond this iron side gate are customers reading their Sunday papers and catching up. Behind us, a trio of sport cyclists enter the sunny courtyard, park their bikes by the exposed wall, and saunter to the coffee bar in their spandex body suits. Something else to capture the customers’ attention besides the news, I guess.

Chye Seng Huat Hardware is divided into four major areas – the Coffee Bar (where coffee is made and served), the Roastery (where micro production methods result in unique roasting profiles for their beans), the Workshop (for barista training and classes) and the Annex (an experimental tasting bar for intimate coffee appreciation sessions).

Design-wise, a generous use of metal, wood and even brass for certain fixtures lends an authentic air to the café, recalling its prior incarnation as a hardware store. Smack in the centre of the café is the island’s first, well, island coffee bar. It’s an impressive sight.

Shaped like a teardrop, this 360° bar is where all the action is. At one end, a barista looking dapper in his well-tailored shirt and starched brown apron pulls shot after shot of espresso and pours precisely foamed milk into immaculate latte art. Steady, sure, no sweat. Elsewhere another barista carefully measures out single origin beans for filter coffee lovers.

Besides the espresso and filter coffees, Chye Seng Huat Hardware is known for their excellent cold brews. The small dark glass bottles the chilled coffee comes in help to protect its volatile flavours from light damage. Good thing too, for the cold brew method extracts the best of the beans used; in this case, the bright citrus notes of the Ethiopian Sidamo shine through with a clean aftertaste.

They even have coffee beer on tap for those who need an alcoholic kick to their morning (or evening) cuppa. Now everyone can drink coffee. (Wouldn’t be a bad motto, yes?)

Their nibbles aren’t to be sniffed at either. Their signature brownie is moist and dense with chocolate and walnuts while the banana bread is perfectly spiced with a light crumble. We hear their freshly baked madeleines are to die for too.

In between bites of cake and sips of coffee, we can’t help but nose around; the café is too beautiful not to. There are scores of vintage records neatly stacked away; these aren’t just for display as they have a functional gramophone. The songs you hear may well have been the same songs played back in the good old days when this café was still a hardware shop.

There’s nothing quite like the warm sound of vinyl. And nothing quite like a good cup of coffee. Fortunately for us, Chye Seng Huat Hardware has both in spades.

前陣子几天連假,我们去了新加坡一趟。
无他,就想見見老同學,和许久不見的老朋友们聚一聚,
順便把之前在南美洲買的紀念品交給他們。
白天当大家都还在上班时,无所事事的我们就到处去喝咖啡。
星星國的咖啡文化比我們起步的早些,島國內咖啡館林立。
在出發前,馬少就已經列好了名單,有哪些咖啡館是這次要去拜訪的。
這間名為再成發五金(Chye Seng Huat Hardware)便是其中一間。
沒錯,一間咖啡館,卻叫做再成發五金。
這間咖啡館位於勞明達街附近的德威路(Tyrwhitt Road);
算是專業咖啡豆品牌 Papa Palheta 的分店之一。
外頭保留了舊店屋的風貌,連咖啡館的名字都是之前的五金店所留下的。
當我們推開半掩的鐵門后,裡頭卻別有洞天。
整間咖啡館分成好幾部份。
室內有冷氣的地方,復古和現代化融合的裝置;
加上黑膠唱片傾瀉出的音樂和陣陣咖啡香,恍惚間讓人不知置身何處。

外頭雖然較熱,但拿本書,邊看邊喝咖啡的也大有人在。
當天我們還看到幾個老外騎了自行車來,
把車一放就到裡頭買杯咖啡,然後坐下來高談闊論一番。
而後半部則是他們測試、烘焙豆子和進行包裝的地方,
透明的玻璃窗,讓裡頭工作人員的一舉一動,一目了然。
當天我們點了一杯拿鐵和冰釀,一份布朗尼和香蕉蛋糕。
牛奶和咖啡的混合度不錯,奶泡也夠綿密順滑。
冰釀咖啡本身雖然沒有太大的驚喜,不過均衡度適中,油脂感夠醇,
配著布朗尼吃,感覺還挺不錯的。
而那香蕉蛋糕的香氣十足且夠濕潤,我們也都還蠻喜歡。
整間咖啡館的空間算蠻大的,可是生意超好。
我們抵達時他們才剛開店不久,不一會已經座無虛席了。
下次再回來時,我會選擇一個夜晚,
坐在室內,聽聽音樂,聞聞咖啡香,單純的讓思緒放空遊走,
應該也是一番不錯的體驗。


Chye Seng Huat Hardware
50 Tyrwhitt Road, Singapore 207563
+65-6396-0609
Tue-Thu 9am-7pm / Fri-Sun 9am-10pm / Mon closed
www.cshhcoffee.com

6 thoughts on “Chye Seng Huat Hardware, Singapore

  1. 第四张和最后一张照片摄得太好了!
    骑单车到咖啡馆喝咖啡很悠闲很写意,好像只是有天我经过这家咖啡馆心血来潮进去喝咖啡而已,单纯地被咖啡香味吸引。

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