Narrative Coffee Stand

An espresso, served in a classic white cupLast month I spent a week in Singapore and, while not having much time to explore its fantastic speciality coffee scene, I did have the pleasure of visiting some excellent coffee shops. In particular, the trio of Fahrenheit Coffee, Pinhole Coffee Bar and today’s Coffee Spot, Narrative Coffee Stand, were all under five minutes’ walk from my workplace, making them natural homes-from-home during my visit.

Narrative Coffee Stand, on the ground floor of the Bras Basah Complex, is a relatively simple space, with limited seating in the air-conditioned interior or outside, where a handful of benches and stools are thankfully well shaded. However, the best seats in the house are, in my opinion, the two stools at the counter, where you can sit and watch your coffee being made.

Talking of which, the coffee, which is all roasted in-house, is the main draw. A typical offering consists of three single-origins on espresso and another three on pour-over through the V60. Naturally, given the climate, all are available iced as well as hot, along with a small collection of cakes if you are hungry. I visited every day during my week in Singapore, enabling me to try all six coffees on offer.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The side of the Bras Basah Complex, as seen looking across Bain Street.
  • Access (from North Bridge Road) is via these broad steps (although there's also a ramp).
  • Turn right at the top, and this is our destination: Narrative Coffee Stand.
  • The handy A-board gives the opening hours.
  • This is the view coming the other way from the back of the Bras Basah Complex/Victoria St.
  • The front of Narrative is all glass, with the door on the left...
  • ... and a solitary bench in front of the window on the right.
  • There's more seating on the other side of the covered walkway. Although it's shaded...
  • ... if you want to escape the humidity, head for the air-conditioned interior.
  • Narrative is long and thin, with the seating at the front and the counter at the back.
  • There's an L-shaped bench on the right. These photos are very misleading by the way...
  • ... since Narrative is usually packed. I had to wait until closing to get these shots!
  • The only other seating is provided by these two stools at the counter.
  • Talking of which, here's the counter. You order by the glass display case on the right...
  • ... which houses the various cakes and cookies.
  • There's a menu on the counter top, while the current selection of coffee...
  • ... is displayed on the wall to the right. I love the simplicity of the menu.
  • There are retail shelves to the left and right of the counter. Coffee kit is to the right...
  • ... while to the left you'll find bags of Narrative's coffee...
  • As well as the simplicity of the menu, I love the simplicity of the packaging.
  • While I was there, Narrative also had single doses of coffee for sale.
  • I enjoyed sitting at the counter, where I could watch my coffee being made. This was the...
  • ... Samii Bensa from Ethiopia, which I had as a pour-over on my first ever visit.
  • The finished article.
  • Sitting at the counter also meant getting up close and personal with the Synesso...
  • ... a real treat for me since I love watching espresso extract.
  • It's a particular treat watching a shot being pulled into a glass.
  • One of the three espressos I sampled during my week of visiting Narrative Coffee Stand.
  • This let me to try all six options on the menu, although I'll spare you photos of them all!
  • I also popped back a month later on my return from Australia where once again I had the...
  • ... Caballero from Honduras as a pour-over, my favourite from my first visits.
  • There was also a chance to try the El Quemado, my favourite espresso.
  • Last one, I promise.
  • Narrative Coffee Stand was a stop on the coffee-go-round. I offered Narrative a choice...
  • ... of four coffees from London/Amsterdam, the staff choosing Amsterdam's Uncommon.
  • I took a  bag of the Caballero to Australia, where it ended up at The Little Marionette.
  • Then, on my way back to the UK, I dropped off some coffee from Melbourne's Path, buying a bag of Narrative’s Finca Soledad from Ecuador to keep the coffee-go-round going.
Webpage Slideshow by v4.6

The Bras Basah Complex is a multi-storey shopping centre dedicated to the arts running along North Bridge Road. Despite visiting every day during the week that I was in Singapore, I never went inside since Narrative Coffee Stand is located down the side of the complex on Bain Street, accessed via a covered terrace that runs down the right-hand side of the building. This provides much needed shade for the outside seating, although there is no respite from the humidity unless you opt for the air-conditioned interior.

Despite the name, the Narrative Coffee Stand is a coffee shop, with an all glass front, the glass door on the left. There’s a bench in front of window on the right, with another opposite door, along with a small table and two stools. There are also additional stools inside which can be deployed when it gets busy.

Inside, the layout is very simple, with Narrative about three times as deep as it is wide. The counter, which is located about halfway back, runs across the width of the store, with the seating occupying the front half of Narrative. An L-shaped bench runs across the window at the front and down right-hand side, two stools acting as a tables. Meanwhile there’s a shorter bench against the left-hand wall with an additional stool/table.

However, best of all are the two stools at counter. These are to the left, leaving space for the till and cakes on the right, while the pour-overs are made in the middle of the counter, with the Synesso espresso machine down the left-hand side. Finally, there are two sets of retail shelves, one on each side of the counter. To the left are bags (and individual servings) of coffee, while there’s coffee-making equipment on the right.

Narrative Coffee Stand began life as a multi-roaster 3½ years ago. However, towards the end of 2022, Narrative started roasting its own beans, which made their way onto the shelves the week before my visit. Narrative offers a selection of single-origin beans roasted for either espresso or filter, with a typical offering consisting of three each, although the precise make up changes on a regular basis.

During my visit, the espresso offerings where the Los Pirineos from El Salvador, the El Quemado from Costa Rica and the Samii Bensa from Ethiopia, all available as espresso, (long) black or with milk. Meanwhile, the filter options, available as a pour-over through the V60, were the Quemado and Samii Bensa, along with the Caballero from Honduras.

Unusually, all the coffee is stored in pre-weighed doses in a freezer and ground on demand. I’ve seen this in places like Tilt (Frozen Solid Coffee Project) and Rosslyn Coffee (Off Menu Coffee), but these were designed to allow small volumes of very special coffees to be served throughout the year. At Narrative, freezing the coffee is all about consistency, since grinding from frozen takes one more variable (temperature of the beans) out of the equation. Although I’d not thought of it like this before, it makes perfect sense.

Since I visited every day for a week, I was able to try all six options. It was all excellent, offering a variety of flavours, although my favourite espresso was the El Quemado from Costa Rica, a rich, dark (in a good way) shot, providing an interesting contrast to the brightness of the other two. However, my overall favourite was the Caballero from Honduras, another, rich, complex and full-bodied coffee.

Narrative Coffee Stand was also a stop on the coffee-go-round, where I take coffee from roasters around the world and pass it on during my travels. I gifted Narrative a bag of the Fincamigos Sudan Rume, a Colombian coffee from Uncommon Coffee in Amsterdam, while I bought a bag of the Caballero to take with me to Australia, where it ended up at The Little Marionette in Sydney.

Meanwhile, Narrative was also a stop on my way home, since I took a 24-hour break in Singapore on my return from Australia, popping in to say hello and drop off a bag of coffee from Burundi which I picked up in Path in Melbourne. In return, I bought a bag of Narrative’s Finca Soledad from Ecuador, a new coffee which had just hit the shelves, which has made its way back to the UK with me.

BLOCK 231 BAIN STREET • #01-05 BRAS BASAH COMPLEX • SINGAPORE • 180231 +65 9488 4493
Monday 09:00 – 16:00 Roaster Narrative (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 09:00 – 16:00 Seating Benches, Counter; Benches (outside)
Wednesday 09:00 – 16:00 Food Cakes
Thursday 09:00 – 16:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 09:00 – 16:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 10:00 – 17:00 Wifi No
Sunday 10:00 – 17:00 Power No
Chain No Visits 16th – 22nd April 2023

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2 thoughts on “Narrative Coffee Stand

  1. Pingback: Pinhole Coffee Bar | Brian's Coffee Spot

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