Continuing my limited tour of Singapore’s speciality coffee scene, we have Pinhole Coffee Bar, which, along with Narrative Coffee Stand and Fahrenheit Coffee, was my home-from-home during my week in Singapore last month. Located on Purvis Street, it’s arguably closer to my hotel than Narrative, but I needed to cross the busy North Bridge Road to get there, so it took me longer. As a result, I visited (only slightly) less frequently.
Pinhole Coffee Bar is a relatively new addition to Singapore’s speciality coffee scene, having opened in November 2021. Long and thin, there’s a range of seating in the air-conditioned interior, including a bench along the right-hand wall, stools at the counter and a communal table tucked away at the back. You can also sit outside on a semi-shaded patio area at the front.
Typically Pinhole has a blend and single-origin on espresso, with anything up to six single-origins on pour-over through the V60. The coffee’s drawn from local Singapore roasters, Cata Coffee and Flip Coffee Roasters, which are joined on pour-over by a rotating guest roaster from further afield (Manta Ray Coffee Roasters from Melbourne during my visit). Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there’s a small selection of cakes.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
On the south side of Purvis Street, Pinhole Coffee Bar occupies half of the ground floor of a modern building at the end of an elegant terrace of much older buildings. The simple façade has a central glass door flanked by two modest windows and is set back from the street, leaving ample space for a semi-shaded patio area with a range of seating options. In front of the right-hand window, a large packing case, adorned with coffee stickers from around the world, acts as a makeshift four-person table, with a more conventional two-person table in front. Alternatively, to the left, a pair of L-shaped benches have a pleasingly symmetrical layout.
As pleasing as the outside seating was, the ever-present humidity drove me to the air-conditioned interior on each of my many visits. Long and thin, with a wonderfully high ceiling, the décor is minimalist, with white-painted walls and ceiling, offset by the softer hues of the wooden stools, window-bar and counter. The only downside is that the bare, concrete floor amplifies sound, so it can be very loud when busy.
The seating starts immediately to the right of the door, with a short, two-person window-bar. This is followed by a wooden bench along the right-hand wall, seating provided by six well-spaced cushions. The bench stops just short of the back wall, leaving enough space for a two-person sofa. There’s a set of retail shelves here, while on the left, Pinhole goes back quite a bit further, creating an annex-like space, home to a six-person communal table.
The only other seating is at the counter, which is set back from the window on the left-hand side, running as far back as the end of the bench. You order at the short side at the front, where you’ll find the till, with the menu on the wall to your left, while the choice of coffee beans is on the counter next to the cakes. The long side of the counter is the preserve of the coffee, starting with the two espresso grinders and the Synesso espresso machine. Next comes the pour-over station with its V60s, kettles and scales. You’ll find three stools here, ideal for watching your coffee being made, while there are another two at back of the counter, facing the front.
I made multiple visits during my week in Singapore, trying much of the coffee, although with six choices on pour-over, I quickly conceded that I couldn’t try everything. I began on Sunday afternoon with a V60 of the Ayele Begashaw, a naturally-processed Ethiopian coffee, roasted by Cata Coffee. Served in a mug, it was a rich, well-rounded coffee.
My next visits were for pre-work flat whites to go in my Frank Green Ceramic cup. For espresso, Pinhole uses the Baby Funk Blend from Flip Coffee Roasters, along with a single-origin which changes every week. During my initial visits, this was Cata Coffee’s Las Flores from Guatemala. I enjoyed this and the blend in my flat whites, finding them both to be very fine coffees. I also had the Las Flores as an espresso during one of my coffee breaks, along with another pour-over, the Gasharu Natural from Flip Coffee Roasters. The Las Flores was rich, complex and well-balanced, while the Gasharu was another rich, complex coffee, with a pleasing sweetness.
My final visit, on Saturday morning, was to try the Hello, Good Morning, a tasting flight of an espresso, piccolo and cold tea, the coffee made with the single-original espresso (the Nicaragua Linda Vista, an anaerobically-processed coffee roasted by Cata Coffee). As an espresso, it had a pleasing kick to it, particularly in the final sip, which might have been the anaerobic processing coming through, while in milk, it was rich, smooth and sweet. Finally, the cold brew tea, while not unpleasant, was not to my taste, although I’m glad that I tried it.
Pinhole was, like Narrative, a double-stop on the coffee-go-round. On my final visit, just before I left Singapore for Australia, I dropped off a bag of Caravan’s Sholi Top Lot from Rwanda. In return, I bought a bag of the Sidama Benas, a washed coffee from Ethiopia that was roasted by Flip Coffee Roasters, which ended up in Melbourne at St Ali Canteen.
On my return from Australia, I broke my journey for 24 hours in Singapore, offering the staff at Pinhole the pick of my collection from Australia. They went for the La Argentina from Melbourne’s Small Batch and I bought a bag of the Finca Patagonia. This is a washed coffee from El Salvador, also roasted by Flip, which has returned to the UK with me.
|27 PURVIS STREET, #01-02 • SINGAPORE • 188604|
|Monday||08:00 – 17:00||Roaster||Cata Coffee + Flip Coffee Roasters + Guest (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 17:00||Seating||Table, Counter, Bench, Window-bar; Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 17:00||Food||Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 17:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||08:00 – 17:00||Wifi||No|
|Sunday||08:00 – 17:00||Power||No|
|Chain||No||Visits||16th – 22nd April 2023|
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