Probably the best cafe near my house.
Ever since Darren first introduced me to Oz Specialty Coffee, I knew – there and then – that they were onto something great. Indeed, despite its small size, it was quaint and I returned, time and time again.
Some time between then and recently, Oz Specialty Coffee – which specializes in Thai grown coffee – closed, and reopened at the former premises in Upper Thomson formerly taken up by Liquid Kitchen. Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roasters is a mid-tier independent budding coffee chain from Chiang Mai, Thailand, with an outlet in Bangkok.
Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roasters is no start-up. Regarded as one of Thailand’s premier coffee roasters, Pacamara’s attention to bean quality and packaging has earned it acclaim from organizations such as the prestigious fair-trade Coffee Quality Institute. The empire, run out of Chiang Mai, the Thai coffee capital, includes Peaberry Ltd, Zana’s Beans and Pacamara Roasters cafes in Chiang Mai, Bangkok and now, Singapore. Much of the beans are sourced from Thailand, proving that we have a lot to be proud of here in Southeast Asia, rather than blindly following the trends of drinking Honduran, Haitian or Tanzanian beans.
The name, by the way, comes from the Pacamara coffee bean, a hybrid between Bourbon mutations, which achieves a variety that produces larger beans.
As for the one in Singapore, you’d need only Google to realize that Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roasters cafe in Singapore isn’t exactly a pure Thai export. While the Upper Thomson cafe shares its Thai parent’s name, logo, beans and coffee machines, the other brand touch points, namely the menu and decor, suggests a deviation that is more in tune with the prevailing Singaporean preference for Melbourne-style cafes.
There isn’t much love lost, anyways. The Thai cafes appear to be more “Costa Coffee” than “Forty Hands” in terms of aesthetics, something which Singaporeans don’t resonate with unless the commercialized-looking cafe is called “Starbucks”. In contrast, Pacamara Singapore has a minimal, almost clinical vibe, which is very in line with the Singapore trend of embracing whitewash cabins and natural light.
The blends here, I’d say, are a little fruitier and lighter than Forty Hands, and people who’re more into the intense acidic flavors usually associated with coffee might not find this as palatable. At the same time, the baristas are all too eager to recommend their tea blends, as well. In fact, I was invited to sample no less than two shots of tea, which besides tasting really good, really made me feel like a “home away from home” (if “home” was really a top-of-the-line cocktail bar).
At Pacamara’s, there’s almost a deliberate hard-handed attempt to create open social conversations and spaces. It breaks down regular societal barriers that we all have, and it’s bold. Frankly, I think there was no such intention and that the big centrepiece table is merely a space-saving function against the rather narrow shop unit.
Almost immediately, the American Breakfast (SGD 20) sky-rocketed Pacamara into my top 3 places for all-day breakfasts, taking third place behind Wild Honey and Food For Thought. It’s quite the platter, with sausage, mushroom, hash brown, roasted tomatoes, bacon, greens, egg and multigrain toast with French jam.
I’m a sucker for scrambled eggs, and this one scraped close to McDonald’s version on a good day. Still, I didn’t mind it too much. Scrambled eggs is very hard to get it consistent, and few places get it at a satisfactory level. It was no Australian Dairy Company, but it did its trick.