Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee - Singapore
The transformation of heritage sites and architecture into useful, business viable concerns remain a challenge and opportunity for many cities finding themselves making financial, cultural and community decisions as what to retain or change. Urban landscapes require clever designs and ideas to avoid destruction of unique perspectives from the past to be replaced by the rather bland and harsh architecture that emphasises on business requirements more than those of the local culture. We can have similar looking skyscrapers when we travel across the world but cities like Barcelona, Penang, Hobart, Mandalay, Prague, Budapest, Kyoto, Kunming and and Kandy captivate our attention, for they combine perhaps the best of old and new in a rather charming way.
It was rather exciting when Julie introduced us to a barista cafe bar, roastery and coffee hub in an old part of Singapore that still retains early 20th century British colonial shophouse architectural feel. Utilised for many years as a thriving hardware business site, the ceilings are high, the windows as practical as possible allowing much air flow (especially in the stifling equatorial afternoons) and the inside feeling rather shady. On the ground floor coffee bar, there is a thriving buzz in contemporary tones of having a cuppa, hosting informal groups and providing a respite from the business pace of Singapore. It could have still housed a traditional coffee shop with round marble tops, as you can still come across in much of current day South East Asia, but no, the modern owners have placed a work space rectangle in the middle of it all, where guests sitting on the side can watch strong and unique coffee blends being made into loving and appreciated cups of addiction.
The cups we had were on the strong side but I also appreciated the creamy and flavourful undertones. Papa Palheta. Coffee is the theme here, even if there is a small interestingly named selection of snacks and cakes available. Old School refers to a vanilla ice cream sandwich. The meatball pasta and smoked duck salad are straight forward enough, but what is the "Huat" Breakfast? To me it was akin to the Aussie Big Breakky - it is lavished with grilled tomato, chicken sausages, ham steak, potato salad and a choice of eggs on toasted brioche.
The upper floors are dedicated to other aspects of the coffee business - roasting, gadgets, etc.
You are not near any shopping centre, MRT station or easy parking. It can be not that easy to even locate the place, they may be back packer's accommodation nearby and it looks like a gathering hole for coffee lovers. Industrial lights, gallery spotlights and louvre windows shape the atmosphere as well. Ceiling fans co-exist with air conditioning units. There is ample outdoor seating, even if it means a mainly evening thing due to the weather in Singapore. The commercial coffee blending machines are enormous, stark black and impressive. The wall on the ground floor must be displaying the widest range of coffee related stuff I have seen in Singapore.
Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee is located at 150 Tyrwhitt Road, Singapore (Lavender / Farrer Park area). The Hokkien name of the place CSH means to flourish again, and this is exactly what the CSHH is doing in terms of the roasting coffee scene in the island republic.
Opening hours are from 9am to 7pm every week day except Mondays.
On weekends, the CSHH is open from 9am to 10pm.
Vehicle parking is best at the nearby Jalan Besar Stadium. Incontrast to most Aussie cafes, this is one that is open for business till late night.