Back in my college days, just a few years ago, I came up with the idea of a 'coffee bar'. I was a frequent customer of a chained coffee shop near my university and I would go there with friends after school hours. We usually visit on the evening and leave a little past midnight. My addiction to ice-blended coffee, or frapuccino, during those days led me to the idea of a coffee bar.
Not long after I came up with that idea, a game application in a social networking site I am suscribed to appeared under the name of Coffee Bar. That quite frustrated me that I didn't even try that game app. Now, a few years after that, I came across a real coffee bar. This time, I was excited to see it for myself.
Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee Bar was recommended to me by an acquaintance who was experienced with coffee matters. The name was misleading and so was the establishment itself. Despite having a 'hardware' in its name, the place was actually a cafe. And, no, they are not selling nails, woods and any kinds of harware stuff for merchandise.
The name, as I heard, came from the fact that the area was known for hardware stores. It was like a tribute to the place. True enough that there were 'Seng Huat'-named hardwares nearby.
Design . As I've said earlier, the establishment façade would not suggest that it was a cafe. Passing by there without knowledge would probably make you ignore the place thinking it was one of those hardwares.
The cafe exterior was so plain that it appears to be closed from across the street. There was a wooden signage big enough to see from afar saying 'Chye Seng Huat Hardware' with a design like that of a common store's. From the outside, there would really be no suggestion that coffee brewing is happening behind the walls.
I was confused at first too until I saw a lady come out from the unconspicuous sidedoor. Then, I tried to see through the small glass panels in the window. It seems to be busy inside and so I decided to enter.
Awkward as I usually am during my first visits, I had no idea where to sit or even place order. At least, I saw people placing order so I queued up. There was a bar counter in the middle of the cafe and I believe it was in the shape of a water drop. Machine and hand coffee brewing and order taking and a little of dishwashing were happening inside this oddly shaped bar.
There was only a number of seats inside the cafe, surrounding the bar. There were bar stools in the counter and you can watch upclose the hand-brewed coffee making.
One huge mirror was placed in front of the curving end of the bar. And, of course, making use of the space, there was a long table and bar stools below the mirror. Mirrors create an illussion of space thus making the cafe appear bigger. In this case though, I don't think it helped much besides adding aesthetic value and replacing framed artworks with a practical item.
On the left side of the bar was a shelf made of round Iron metals welded together. It was the most unique shelf I've seen in my life. It has a rustic feeling, originality and weirdness in it. It covers almost the entire wall holding the merchandise of the cafe. Once again, they're not nails or such stuff. There were coffee making devices of various kinds.
Small wooden tables were also attached on this side of the wall. The tables were so small that they can only hold a small laptop and your coffee and pastry order. It was good enough for me though.
The other side of the cafe holds a few tables and chairs. There was also a table holding magazines and post cards for art advertisements.
There were also al fresco tables outside the cafe. It was more peaceful there but I couldn't bear with the summer heat. Next to the cafe in the same compound was the coffee roasting facilities a coffee beans store. I didn't check that part since I am not interested in buying coffee beans at the moment.
Coffee and Pastry. The CSHH Coffee Bar was established by Papa Palheta which is one of the best coffee roasters in Singapore. I had enjoyed the ambiance of the cafe and the friendliness of the staff. And the coffee was excellent as I had expected.
I first ordered a cappuccino and had another cup of hand-brewed black coffee. The cappuccino was full-bodied but the foam and milk was not very thick and creamy. Even so, it was delicious. I love the latte art too.
The hand-brewed black coffee was really good as well. It was my first time ordering for a simple black coffee. I believe the beans used were ones from Kenya a the staff told me that it has a fruitty flavor. True enough, the coffee was flavorful but I can't really figure out what it is. I enjoyed half of it as it is, and the other half with milk after I was offered with it.
The chocolate cake was also delicious. It was to my liking although I would prefer it to be more moist. The chocolate was rich and the sponge was not hard. There were also melted chocolate bits inside the sponge that gave it a more chocolatey flavor.
Service. As I've mentioned the staff were all friendly and accommodating. They also try to build rapport with their customers as much as possible which gives the cafe a warm feeling.
The one in the cashier managed to give me suggestion when I ordered for my second round of coffee since there were no queue at that time. They actually try to get me to seat in the bar counter where I can watch the coffee brewing upclose. Unfortunately, I w a more peaceful seat hence sitting opposite that side. I apprraciate the effort in trying to entertain me though.
As per my observations, the staff provides prompt service to the customers. They were also very cheerful and accommodating. They try to address the customers' needs as much as possible. The service was casual but professional. That's what I like about cafes - the service with a casual feel to it.
Whereabouts. Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee Bar. 150 Tyrwhitt Road.
The cafe was located in a commercial area for mostly hardware stores. The nearest MRT Stations were Farrer Park (North-East Line) and Lavender (East-West Line). It was actually in between these stations, so it's a good deal of a walk from both stations going to the cafe.
Nearby bus stops were the following:
For Lavender Street: Opposite Pek Chuan Building catering to bus service numbers 13, 67, 133, and 145. Hock Seng Building with the bus numbers just mentioned and 61, 107, 175, 961, 107M and 961C.
For Jalan Besar: Hoa Nam Building with bus service numbers 21, 23, 64, 65, 66, 67, 125, 130, 139, 147, 857.
[All photos were taken using Samsung Galaxy Note II.]
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