Cafes for the Singaporean minimalist
The bustle of the Singaporean lifestyle is enough to strangle our minds as we constantly look to appreciate our lives without unnecessary clutter.
Beyond the glitzy cafes we frequent along Haji Lane and all around Tiong Bahru are a few under-the-radar gems that gracefully employ the use of space, light and nature in their design. From contrasting black/white interiors to teak furniture against soft natural lighting, these 5 cafes exemplify living simply, without compromising on utility.
To up your photoshoot game, we’ve also included the different looks you can try out when you’re at the cafes!
1. Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roasters
A cafe concept brought in from Bangkok, Pacamara at Upper Thomson Road is not to be missed by coffee aficionados. They specialise in coffee and regularly rotate their coffee menu, and their baristas are experienced enough to brew coffee with flavour notes of your liking regardless of what you order.
The cafe's exterior makes for a good photo backdrop
Full-length glass windows surround the cafe, allowing natural light to flood into its premises, contrasting the white working space of the baristas against the teak communal tables.
Furnished simply with long wood-topped tables and white chairs, it felt as though we were in a cafe along the streets of Melbourne. We got ourselves two filtered brews - the Don Eli and the Nano Chala ($6.50 each), as well as a bottle of Honey Rooibos Tea ($6.50).
Being here on a weekday afternoon can really help to clear the mind. Away from the crowds of the usual cafe haunts,a good cup of coffee in a minimalist environment allows for time and space to collect our thoughts.
Styling our outfits
We started off with our smart casual outfits in monochrome.
We took the usually dreary black-and-white and weaved in strokes of greens and metallic sheens with the Birkenstock EVA Arizona in Khaki (on him) and the Birkenstock EVA Madrid in Silver (on her), both from $49.
This slight change in colours warms up the entire outfit, giving it a dash of sophistication.
Address: 185 Upper Thomson Road, Singapore 574333
Opening Hours: Daily 9AM-11PM
Telephone: 6456 2567
2. Boufe Boutique Cafe
They have a swing at the entrance for quiet HTHTs
Retaining the facade of a monochrome colonial office, Boufe reflects the same colours on the inside - fully white with piano-black accents. Located at Phoenix Park along Tanglin Road, it's not the easiest of cafes to get to via public transport, but getting here is 100% worth it.
There's also an al fresco area surrounded by lush greenery that will make you feel like you're at a countryside retreat.
We thought that we’d be having “big plate but small portion” dishes at such a fancy-looking cafe but the menu proved us wrong. We ordered the Duck Confit ($18), Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict ($19), Tomato Crab Pasta ($18), and the Truffle Mushroom Pasta ($14).
Almost too pretty for us to cut open, the dainty Mini Unicorn Cake ($9) was bursting with tropical flavours from coconut mousse and mango cremeux. The milk glaze around the cake was the perfect finish. Too bad it's so small we finished it in a few bites.
Styling our outfits
We went low-maintenance for this brunch date outfit. A muted dress for her, and the usual ¾ sleeve + shorts combo for him allowed us to contrast against the colonial backdrop without trying too hard.
The classic Birkenstock Rio in Black (on him) and Florida in Silver (on her) that we had on complemented the laidback vibes of the outfit, giving it a dose of chic. Both Birkenstocks from $129.
Address: 308 Tanglin Road, #01-01, Phoenix Park, Singapore 247974
Opening Hours: Daily, 9AM-8PM (Last orders at 7PM)
Telephone: 6734 7656
Offering gluten-free and organic bakes, Tiann’s has been luring passersby in with sweet decadents displayed at their shopfront. What sets Tiann's apart from the average cafe is that their pastries' sweetness doesn’t come from refined sugar. Instead, they use maple syrup, honey and jams to bring out the flavours.
Upon stepping into the cafe, we’re greeted by plywood tables, white brick walls and stonewashed floors, all of which added to a space we'd be happy to spend hours at. The skylights above the seating area also favoured the camera, providing streams of natural light that trickle right onto the table.
The pop of orange adds another dimension to the monochrome backdrop
On our table were the Sweet Strawberry ($9.80), the Berry Ripple Gelato on Tiann’s Waffle ($12), and a Latte ($4.50).
The Sweet Strawberry deserves special mention. The combination of vanilla bean cream and whipped French cream added a layer of savouriness to the strawberry cake, and the use of fresh strawberries was a delight. The strawberries' tartness worked well with the sweetness of the cake, resulting in us fighting for the paiseh piece.
Styling our outfits
We decided to go bold for this one. The Scuba Blue Birkenstock EVAs (from $49) complemented our mono-denim outfits perfectly. Along with the pop of colour from the orange backdrop, the EVAs brought out the crisp whites that we were decked out in with its contrasting shade of blue.
The Birkenstock EVAs come in Neon Pink, Neon Green and Scuba Coral as well, for sharp colours that will draw the eye.
Address: 71 Seng Poh Road, #01-35, Singapore 160071
Opening Hours: Closed on Mondays. Tue-Sun: 8AM-4PM (Last orders at 3.30PM. Bakes and gelato available till closing)
Telephone: 6222 1369
4. Luxe Singapore
Hailing from Sydney, Luxe brings the contemporary side of Australian cuisine to Keong Saik Road. Headed by Singaporean chef Chui Lee Luk, Luxe's menu has obvious Asian elements that Singaporeans will appreciate.
Using Scandinavian-inspired furniture, Luxe feels more like an expanded dining room at your friend’s place. The design incorporates clean lines, pale wood and hues of copper to exude a warmth you’ll normally only experience at your bestie’s place.
Walking in felt like we were in a scene of Pretty Woman
We ordered the Sashimi Bowl with Nori, Daikon, Avocado & Pickles ($24), as well as the Luxe Burger on a Charcoal Bun ($27).
If the timing in which Singaporeans finish a dish can be used as a gauge for how good it is, the Luxe Burger's pretty darn good - we finished the whole thing in less than 10 minutes. THE WHOLE BURGER in less than 10 minutes. The thick beef patty felt as though it became one with the gruyere cheese as it melded with the toasty black buns to engage our tastebuds full-on.
Styling our outfits
Knowing we'd be in the atas neighbourhood that is Keong Saik, we updated our dressy "Sunday best" to mean "Sunday best yet comfortable". We ditched our brogues and pumps for the classic Birkenstock in Pisa (on Him) and the Rio (on her) for a formal yet free-spirited outfit.
Both sandals start from $129.
Address: 1 Keong Saik Road, #01-04, Singapore 089109
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 9AM-10PM, Sunday to Monday: 9AM-4PM
Telephone: 6221 5615
5. Curious Palette
Owned by a barista who competes nationally, Curious Palette is bound to satisfy the coffee addict with extraction techniques that make brewing coffee seem more like a science than an art.
With stone-washed columns and a largely white and brown colour scheme, Curious Palette looks as though it got Ctrl + C-ed from a Japanese design magazine and Ctrl + V-ed into real life. The full-length windows at both ends also brings natural lighting into the equation.
They even have a sofa couch to lounge the day away
The back entrance is perfect for a minimalist couple on a photoshoot
We ordered up 3 cups of coffee, each extracted with a distinctively different technique - the Aeropress, Syphon, and the Wave Dripper ($6.90 each).
We were amazed at how intricate the barista’s equipment were. There were 3 types of brewers: a vacuum brewer, a bunsen burner-esque brewer, and a flat-bottomed three-holed brewer. Most regular coffee drinkers wouldn't appreciate the difference in brewing techniques, but the baristas here are friendly enough to explain each technique's nuances if you ask.
Styling our outfits
Considering how normcore is rising on both the runways and the street, we paired our neutral palettes with the cafe’s clean colour scheme. The earthy tones that we had on melded well with the whites in the cafe.
To further accentuate the colours of our outfits, we chose the classic Birkenstocks Arizona in Black (on Him) and the Madrid in Shiny-snake Cream (on Her). Both start from $129.
Address: 64 Prinsep Street, Singapore 188667
Opening Hours: Closed on Tuesdays. Mon, Wed, Thur, Sun 9AM-10PM. Fri and Sat 9AM-12AM
Telephone: 6238 1068
Singapore's minimalist cafes to unwind at
With the sun shining brightly upon our tiny island all year round, a pair of versatile sandals is one thing in our wardrobe that we all should have. It keeps our feet cool and airy, and is a cinch to slip on or off when leaving the house.
But while comfort is important, you'll also want to trade up your uncle flip-flops for something more stylish - especially important if you want to catch the eye of that cute girl at the cafe!
With the classic Birkenstock, you can style a look other than the standard T-shirt + shorts + slippers combo that you always fall back on because of Singapore’s weather. The classics are not only as practical as your usual flip flops, they are so, so much more comfortable.
With every step that your foot takes, the classic Birkenstocks allows for a softer landing and also, greater support with its signature contoured cork footbed.
From the streets to the beach, the Birkenstocks EVAs are just as versatile as the classics. Using the same model as the cork sandal, the EVAs are fully produced from the material Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate, keeping them light, sturdy, and weatherproof.
Whether street, grunge or festival chic, Birkenstocks can match any outfit you have in mind - even the right formal wear matches up to the sandals! With an array of options unlocked by a pair, you can style your look in any way you like.
The five Birkenstock outlets can be found at:
Bugis Junction | Paragon | Suntec City
VivoCity | Velocity@Novena
You can find more information on the outlets here.
This post was brought to you by Birkenstock Singapore.