Drink

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Mellower Coffee

Published September 25, 2019 by piggie

Mellower Coffee @ Bugis

OK, I confess I’m not truly a coffee lover, and wasn’t actively following Singapore’s cafe scene. I didn’t even know Mellower Coffee’s existence until now, some two years after it set foot Singapore shore from Shanghai. It’s hard to associate the coffee chain with China initially, noting that its name did little to suggest that, but then again, coffee is not a China thing, it’s a western influence that’s fast gaining popularity all over the world, including China (I can rationale part of the reasons being Chinese are more receptive of anything foreign, on the other hand, with such name, it’s much easier to venture oversea). But end of the day, be it Starbucks, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, or even Mellower Coffee, none of their own country produces coffee beans, at best they roasted the imported beans, and in principle, it’s this process they are selling.

I probably won’t have set foot into this cafe if it wasn’t firstly a free treat. They are still relatively new, and their locations, apart from the one at Somerset, are quite out of the way for me, with their Robinson branch almost exclusively serving CBD patrons, and their Bugis flagship store more associated with National Library, I mean, there are so many cafes inside Bugis Junction and Bugis +, why would I walk further up the road for Mellower Coffee especially if I have to expose myself under the sun? Well, I shall explain shortly.

This review is a compilation of several visit, but for convenience sake, I will just document it under one post.

Let’s compare my favourite Starbucks beverage and Mellower Coffee’s, sense the difference? Yes, the coffee art. And it wasn’t just limited to Latte, Mellower Coffee applies that to most all of their hot beverages that contain milk, not to mention their pricing is competitive. But of course, if the taste isn’t great, no matter how much gimmicks you input makes little significance. Well, if you are asking about the taste, I’ll have to say it’s a matter of hit and miss.

Oh, by the way, the Latte art is not fixed, it is not a mean to identify your order and is actually random.

Cafe Latte, $6.20

Generally, whenever I first try a new cafe, I started with their Latte. I have heard rave review on how great it is prior to visiting, but actually, what they did was merely adding cinnamon powder into it, giving off an additional aroma to the usual Latte. So, for those who don’t mind cinnamon, it’s just a little surprise, nothing spectacular really. In any case, cafe like Starbucks do provide optional cinnamon, vanilla powder etc, patrons can add to their desire amount to create a personalise flavour. Unfortunately, my cuppa partner isn’t a big fan of cinnamon, no prize guessing her dislike for this. In any case, I am more of a vanilla person, I would have prefer a richer vanilla flavour. So for this aspect, I think it’s wise to keep it basic, and let patrons determine the portion of spices they desire.

Cappuccino, $6.20

Their Cappuccino is decent, rich, but otherwise very disappointing, because mine was served lukewarm. That happened to my cuppa partner’s Latte too. It may be that the barista is new, but for this price, there is absolutely no reason why the hot beverage can get lukewarm almost as soon as I fetched it to the table. I’m not expecting it to be pipping hot, it can’t, but it certainly cannot be lukewarm at the other extreme as if it had been brew and left cool for more than 15 minutes.

Matcha Latte, $6.00

Those who’s gunning for a genuine Matcha treat may be slightly disappointed with this, though this one was served at an adequate temperature, the Matcha powder just ain’t rich enough. I understand Mellower Coffee attempts to be a little special, but being outstanding doesn’t mean having to (in fact it’s wrong) reduce the characteristic of a Matcha Latte. Only mild Matcha aroma was presence, which led me to wonder whether it’s because of their more competitive prices. I do believe the proprietor must have tried Starbucks’ version before, in addition, I can share even McDonald’s in China serves better Matcha Latte than this.

Matcha Frappe, $7.00

I actually like this perhaps for the whipped cream on top. I could be wrong (then again, there ain’t right or wrong answer on this aspect actually, just personal preference), but I found myself more acceptant to their cold beverages despite this also has less Matcha aroma than I anticipated. I like the sweetness it brings as well as the chilling factor in a hot afternoon. Who knows? Maybe if I visited in the evening, I may have generated different perspective, but I’m more likely going for their hot beverages if I did anyway. But yeah, I like its richness nonetheless.

Sweet Little Rain, $9.80

This is Mellower Coffee’s signature item, and as they put it, it’s actually hot American coffee coupled with sweet little sugar rain dripped from candy floss cloud. One thing for sure, it’s gimmicks, perhaps one for the Instagram. Nonetheless, kudos to Mellower Coffee’s creativity in bringing fun to a cuppa, and if you pay close attention, you can really see a drizzle of candy rain flying all over the table, melted by the heat from the coffee underneath, you gotta be careful don’t let the candy drizzle stick to your belongings! However, when it comes to the taste… erm, once again, let’s be very clear, if you are getting this, you are in fact paying for the gimmicks, not the coffee. The coffee itself is very acidic, great for those coffee addict perhaps, but a little too strong for my preference. Personally, I find myself needing some sugar even after the entire candy floss was dipped into the coffee, yes after a while, my patience runs thin, and I simply dip it in. LOL!

Ondeh X Latte, $9.80

Ondeh X Latte is Mellower Coffee’s exclusive creation for Singapore, although not as flamboyant as Sweet Little Rain, but cost just as much, but is actually more than just a shot of expresso plus a glass of coconut milk with gula melaka. You can probably notice coconut flakes intentionally sticking to the glass rim to create an Instagram-savvy impression, most importantly, it has a marvellous taste to match!

To be honest, when it was served, I had to ask the barista how am I suppose to appreciate this. She told me to adjust the quantity of the coconut milk into the coffee to create my favourite proportion. I ended up pouring them all in anyway! 😀 But really, come to think of it, it really should be the other way round, that the coffee to be poured into the coconut milk, cos that’s more of a drinking glass after all.

Alright, I think for the time being, that’s all I have to say about their beverages, let’s go on the the pastries.

Grilled Chicken Pesto, $7.90

At $7.90, I’m expecting their Grilled Chicken Pesto to be more flavourful. Unfortunately, it gave a stale bland taste which left me pondering whether we should have eaten our dinner at Delifrance or Subway earlier.

Salted Caramel Cheesecake, $7.00

We were frequent patrons of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and absolutely love their cakes, but this Salted Caramel Cheesecake was another disappointment. The taste is OK, but the texture, erm… slumpish. Once sliced, it crumbled like semi-molten lava, which I suspect was due to not been fridged long enough.

New York Cheesecake, $7.00

This is really how a decent cake should look and taste like, the cheesey taste is moderate, and in perfect firm cake shape, unlike our previous experience with their Salted Caramel Cheesecake. But in truth, it’s just average, nothing spectacular, and nothing to grumble about.

Matcha Mousse, $6.80

Their Matcha Mousse is at least refreshing, notably on its design. The macaron is interesting, along with the pyramid cube on the other end. Its appearance easily outsell the taste, which wasn’t bad really!

Earl Grey Lavender Cake, $7.00

I’m not sure whether Mellower Coffee’s cakes are seasonal, but when I wanna try their Matcha Mousse again, it was nowhere to be found, I saw their new Earl Grey Lavender Cake, and ordered this instead. As a big fan of Earl Grey Tea, I am having big expectation for this, and it certainly didn’t fail. I find the Lavender and Earl Grey aroma blending very coherently, and simply love the nutty texture of the cake.

I think I will visit again, I guess that tells I’m still satisfied with this cafe.

Marks & Spencer Luxury Gold Teabags Strength No.2

Published November 27, 2018 by piggie

Picture credit: http://www.rohlik.cz

Oh, it has been like ages since my last post, much as I still possess hugh passion in writing, I find myself strangled for time over my other interests and priorities. I guess I’ll just delve a few minutes for this which I feel a compulsion to pen.

I am a tea fanatic, more so over coffee, but fine tea have been far harder to come by, when I come across one, I would love to document it here, so that I can always reference back in future. First and foremost, this came as a gift, so other than I understand it can be purchased from Marks and Spencer, I ain’t aware of its price. The picture above is taken from a Czech Republic portal because I am too lazy to snap a picture of my own. So what made this stands out from many other more established tea makers that I absolutely have to write about it?

Marks and Spencer is a UK brand, we knew for centuries that the British are great appreciators of fine tea, but that they rarely produced tea of their own. It was printed on the packaging that M&S sourced their tea from various sources in compliance according to Fairtrade Standards. What this means is that the tea leaves are purchased at a Fairtrade Minimum Price (and added premiums) to uphold sustainability and improve trading and working conditions for farmers and other related workers in developing countries. Marks and Spencer further emphasise that they use the finest teas from the best tea gardens in the world, and “only the young top two leaves and a bud are hand picked for this blend when they are at the right stage of maturity, coupling with gentle handling and careful selection to ensure tea leaves aren’t bruised or damaged before the tea making process”.

Well, after such introduction, the bottom line still comes back to the taste isn’t it?

I received this tea close to its best before date, and only managed to finish them all 6 months later. Even up till the very last teabag, I am still impressed by its rich aroma with a full and smooth taste, so much so that I can still squeeze out a second cup from the teabags, albeit with lighter taste, but still go well as a light tea without tasting bland. In general, it has a much richer taste than conventional British Breakfast tea, it is rich in tea aroma, but not to such fragrance offer by an Earl Grey bergamot. On the packaging, it is listed to have a strength of medium flavour (level 2), presumably, they have something lighter, and probably a thicker one. This being that good, I can’t help wondering how the level 3 will taste like. So to speak, this is probably one of the best black tea I have ever tried. And it being available at Marks and Spencer means that it may cost a little premium, but overall it should be considered affordable for its excellent quality. It’s available for $8.90 at M&S.

Osulloc Jeju Orchid Green Tea

Published July 1, 2015 by piggie

Osulloc_DSC01141A nice friend of mine went Korea last year and bought me a pack of Osulloc Jeju Orchid Green Tea. I am finishing it as I’m writing this, and I love it so much I thought I might as well document this somewhere before I totally forget about it, just so if I go to Korea in future, I can reference back rather than depending on my frail memory.

Osulloc_DSC01125I have to confess I didn’t know much about Korean tea prior to this, and my favourite tea has always being Osmanthus Green Tea. While it’s getting difficult to get Osmanthus Green Tea in Singapore, let alone its exorbitant price, it’s even rare to see Orchid Tea. Osulloc Jeju Orchid Green Tea here exude a different kind of fragrance, Orchid of course. While Orchid in general doesn’t have that strong effervescence in contrast to Osmanthus, Osulloc Jeju Orchid Green Tea here have a strong aroma. They claimed to use extracts of Jeju Island’s rare Cymbidium Orchid, which only bloom for 10 days a year. And the tea bags actually came in pyramid form, which provides better diffusion.

Maccha House抹茶館

Published March 31, 2013 by piggie

I had been wondering whether to blog about this, partly because I only went there for the dessert. Frankly speaking, their noodles entries didn’t appeal to me at all, and I won’t think I’ll ever come here for a proper meal. With that in mind, pardon me if this post may sound a bit shallow. Having said that, please recognise that desserts are their forte, not noodles. Just like Kyoto is famous for Maccha, Kaiseki Ryori, but seriously, not noodles (well, alright, perhaps you may still unearth some hidden gem here and there, but I’m speaking in general term here).

My friend and I ordered a beverage each, and shared a dessert. After all, we were still quite full after dinner at Kitakata Rahmen Yamakichi. I didn’t want to order any beverage there, since it would probably be over-priced and anyway Orchard Central is just one street away, might as well have some better drink there, under a more cosy environment.

Maccha Cream Latte ($4.90)

Maccha Cream Latte ($4.90)

After the order, and payment made immediately after, I was surprise how quick were the beverages prepared (they took some time processing my payment, that’s why). I was initially a bit annoyed when they asked me to fetch my own order. However, soon as I found out they didn’t include any service charge in the bill, my annoyance dispersed. I had a Maccha Cream Latte, which I found quite rich, the maccha tasted as authentic as those I tried back in Japan, same as bitter, but a nice blend with the latte nevertheless. I wasn’t sure whether they were using Uji maccha powder, for Uji Maccha is the best in Japan and usually more expensive. Seriously, I couldn’t tell!

Hot Maccha Chocolate Latte ($5.40)

Hot Maccha Chocolate Latte ($5.40)

My friend had Maccha Chocolate Latte, and found the maccha too bitter, although the chocolate latte is sweet. LOL! That’s how Maccha suppose to taste.

Maccha Cream Anmitsu Shiratama ($8.90)

Maccha Cream Anmitsu Shiratama ($8.90)

And our ‘main course’… The maccha ice cream was creamy and rich in maccha taste, bitter in my friend’s opinion, but nice for me. The white dango was expectingly tasteless, but they provided a small pint of syrup to dip in. I found this a bit pricey, but still cheap if you compare to what you would be paying for in Japan, the thing is, I don’t know whether they imported the ingredients from Japan or sourced locally, which I greatly doubt the former.

Getting to the end of this post, let me reiterate that I had never read any review before visiting, but I was impressed by their dessert just from the look of it. After trying it out, I came across a few reviews and found some hardly justifiable. First of all, a handful of reviewers criticised their poor services. Though I admit their services left MUCH room for improvement, but at the end of the day, what services were they expecting when they were not even paying for service charge? Haven’t they ever visited a McDonald’s before?

I already knew Maccha House also serving noodles before I patronise Kitakata Rahmen Yamakichi. Even then, I never thought of dining here despite they were offering more variety. Well, within a stone throw away I could have found Ippudo and Santouka plus a few hidden gems, do I really need to have ramen there? Got the hint??

Maccha House 抹茶館
#B1-40, 181 Orchard Road
Orchard Central
Singapore 238896
Tel: +65 6636 5830
Opening Hours: 11:00 – 22:00 HR

Çaykur Black Tea

Published February 23, 2013 by piggie
Çaykur Black Tea.. avoid if possible

Çaykur Black Tea.. avoid if possible

So far, I have never review about drink, and I feel compelled to write about this for sometime. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not exceptionally great, quite the opposite in fact, it’s an absolute disaster!

Perhaps in part, it was my fault, in taking for granted that all black tea are similar. While that can be said for Lipton, BOH, and BON tea (and if I remember correctly, Dilmah too!), the same definitely cannot be said about Çaykur, Turkey’s national tea maker. As we are probably aware, the others mentioned are producing fine Ceylon tea, and now I begin to understand why Ceylon tea is appreciated the world over. Trust me, I have tasted better Ceylon tea than all these mentioned, complimentary of some Sri Lankan ex-colleague who brought here all the way from home!

Çaykur not only lack the smooth and fragrant taste of conventional Ceylon tea (Orientals call it red tea, but most westerners call it black tea), if not somewhat bitter. Yes, bitter, contrasting to the usual sweetness a Ceylon tea possesses. It was suggested on their packaging that it goes well with sugar, lemon, or perhaps milk. Believe me, I tried them all, save for the addition of lemon, which added much needed acidic citrus fragrance to nullify the bitter beverage, the others simply failed, somewhat miserably, not unless I try adding more sugar or milk, but I doubt it can still be regard as a tea after that.

Make no mistake, I’m not allergic to bitter tea, in fact, I drank plenty variance of Chinese tea, which are certainly bitter than Çaykur, if not more health beneficial. But we don’t call Chinese tea a black tea, and we certainly don’t usually add milk to them.

In my opinion, Çaykur is not your conventional black tea. I’m not criticising the taste of our Turkish friends, perhaps they prefer a stronger blend. But to my dear friends who are accustomed to the ‘excellent’ silky Ceylon tea available in this world, take my words, don’t fall into any vendor’s cheap price tactic and acquire it. Trust me, you will regret it!