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Toast Box Presents Nanyang Coffee Appreciation Workshop @ BreadTalk IHQ (Tai Seng) August 1, 2013

Posted by gurkhason in cafe, event, singapore.
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Breadtalk Group iHQ Toastbox

BreadTalk Group just unveiled their landmark IHQ at Paya Lebar iPark @ Tai Seng.  I feel privileged to be invited to a Nanyang Coffee Appreciation Workshop.  The new Breadtalk Group IHQ houses all of my favourite local brands such as BreadTalk, Toast box, Din Tai Fung, Ramen Play and Food Republic.  The IHQ is away from the buzz of retail shopping but a heaven of eateries choices for the family.  I heard the parking is currently hassle free.  Do check out the BreadTalk IHQ if you have not!

Breadtalk Toastbox Nanyang Coffee Appreciation

Nanyang coffee would of course refers to the kind of coffee we have been drinking since the entry of milk based coffee – your latte or cappucinno; which is more “western” style.  Of course you can have your way of milk in your nanyang coffee.  Either “Kopi” which is coffee with condensed milk or “Kopi C” which is coffee with evaporated milk.  You would ask where does the “C” comes about?  Actually the C comes about because in the older days, most of the coffee makers uses the F&N brand Carnation Milk.  To cut short the difficult pronunciation (since most people don’t speak English then), so they just say they want a C.  I shan’t dwell too much into the difference between a condensed milk and evaporated milk.  That shall be another post; another time.

Breadtalk Toastbox Nanyang Coffee Appreciation

Most of us are familiar with the Arabica or Robusta types of coffee beans.  But actually there is a third kind which is Liberica.  The most expensive bean types are the Arabica (also known as mountain or highland coffee) because they grow at an altitude above 1000-2000m.  the Robusta is relatively cheaper and easier to care for; thus its name for its robust nature; grows at an altitude of 700m and below.  The Liberica are cheaper and its leaves actually contains more caffeine then the beans itself.

Breadtalk Toastbox Nanyang Coffee Appreciation

Our speaker of the day is the coffee consultant for the BreadTalk Group.  It is amazing that the small, simple cup of coffee that we drink has been through a lot of research and taste test for a grueling 3 months before its currently formulation.  It is actually a mixture of Robusta for the base note, Arabica for aroma and Liberica for extra dimension.   You can really feel that a lot of heart was gone into preparing the cup of coffee.  You see, Toast Box is considered a “new kid on the block” when it venture into the coffee and toast business because they are not considered a “aged-old” brand.  But it is not surprising their coffee has gained a lot of popularity and won the hearts of many folks.  Check the Toast Box at your nearest neighbourhood and you will know why.

Breadtalk Toastbox Nanyang Coffee Appreciation

For the uninitiated, many people have heard of the most expensive coffee in which a certain cat eats the coffee cherries and passes out the beans as shit.  Yes, pictured above are some of these “lumps” of shit from the civet cats.  Actually what goes on really is the processing part of the coffee cherries.  In the case of Coffee Luwak, the enzymes from the gastric juices of the civet cats dissolves the cherries meat.  As the beans are indigestible, so they passed through its digestive system as waste.  That’s Coffee Luwak for you.

In the more traditional method, the beans can be processed from a wet or dry method.  The wet method involves soaking the cherries in water and a fermentation process.  The dry method involves “sun tanning” the beans under the sun, and cherries are sent to special silo where hulling, sorting, grading and bagging takes place.  Sounds like a lot to do for your cup of coffee yes?

Breadtalk Toastbox Nanyang Coffee Appreciation

The next step after processing the bean is to roast them.  What you see above is a roaster that can be used.  The advantage of using this roaster is that it does not emit the kind of smoke that pollutes the environment.  I reckon the yield is higher and more consistent compared to the traditional roast.  I wasn’t paying 100% attention because got excited looking at the demonstration.  However there seems to be a lot of science going on in this process.  There are two methods to roast the beans:  either the dry or clean roast or torrefacto roast.  The torrefacto roast involves using sugar; either caramelised (hock chew way) or non-caramelised (hainanese way).  The torrefacto is the cheaper way to roast a coffee as it gives a better yield.  You can find out more by attending their appreciation workshop the next time Toast Box organise it again!

Breadtalk Toastbox Nanyang Coffee Appreciation

This is the final outcome of the coffee beans.  Do you know that Singapore has the greatest consumption of coffee in the world!!!  That’s an amazing fact isn’t it?  Just imagine us as being a little red dot, but the nation does need a lot of perking up right?  Incidentally, Singapore is also the cheapest place to have coffee amongst the first world coffee.  Imagine you can have a cup of coffee at just $1 if you go to a regular “kopitiam”.  If you count those instant coffee packets, they probably cost less than 50 cents a pack!  No surprise now we are such a great coffee drinker!

Breadtalk Toastbox Nanyang Coffee Appreciation

The last part of the coffee making process has to be brewing it.  the cheapest and most economical way is using the filtration extraction method using none other than “the sock”.  The equipment requires are the cloth filter or sock, the dragon pot and coffee pot and agitator.  The dragon pot is the one with the long pouts and the coffee pot is the one that receives it.  Agitator is the stick that is used to stir the coffee and hot water.  Apparently in a number of coffee shops, the coffeeshop owners never leave their agitator behind when they leave the store.  The agitator is guarded as a family heirloom because they think the magic in their cups of coffee comes from the old stick with years of aroma with it.  So if you see someone using a old, filthy and black agitator, brace yourself for a solid cup of kopi.

For your information, the factors that affects the brew are the coffee to water ratio, the grind of the beans, water temperature and extraction time.  The agitation also plays an important role too.  So you see, making a perfect cup of coffee is very much a science.  Of course Toast Box shared with us how they make a perfect roast, but for proprietary reasons, I better not blog about it here!

Breadtalk Toastbox Nanyang Coffee Appreciation

We were also treated to a performance of their coffee master pulling coffee in various postures.  This has to be the most difficult one as it requires a lot of precision, co-ordination and mastery!  Imagine pulling out your coffee into your buddy coffee pot.  I tried pulling it on my own and it is hard enough, let alone pouring into someone else’s.  The coffee master in Toastbox also have to passed stringent exams.  For an example, they must be able to use their hands to measure all the condiments and are accredited only if their error rate is less than 5%.  Now you can be sure the coffee masters at Toast Box are really up to mark.

Breadtalk Group iHQ Toastbox

Now, if you want a cup of Nanyang Coffee at the comfort of your home, or maybe you travel a lot to overseas and yearn for home taste coffee, now you can with the Toast Box Coffee Brew.  Just 3 simple steps and in 3 minutes, you can enjoy a cup of coffee!

Toast Box Coffee Brewer

Check out Toast Box merchandise at their website here.  Alternatively hop down to the nearest Toast Box, have a cup of coffee and on your way back bring back the coffee brewer or other of their merchandise.

Thank you Lizhen from BreadTalk Group for being a great host and Carlyn from Sixth Sense Communications for inviting. I’ve learnt so much from the short session and now will see my nanyang style coffee with more respect, and in a very different light.

Toast Box | BreadTalk IHQ
30 Tai Seng Street
#01-05 Paya Lebar iPark
Singapore 534013
Tel: 6636 4568
Opening Hours:
Open Daily: 7.30am – 10.00pm

By MRT: Alight at Tai Seng MRT Station (CC11).
Take Exit A and walk about 5 minutes

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