Meetup at Highlander Coffee

This CGSG meetup was organised by Melvin at Highlander Coffee today at 11 am. I went late, and Adrian was already there, having finished his first Latte, which he remarked Ray the barista had made quite a nice rosetta on.

Having tried the doppios the first time round, I decided on a cafe mocha. Not as sweet as Starbuck’s, but definitely more milky. My 2nd drink was a cappuccino, a good balance between the coffee and the milk. The price for a single espresso is just $1.90. All in all, the milk drinks were an improvement over Starbuck’s. We managed to sneak in the backroom where they house a Diedrich roaster and a few coffee machines including a Gino 3 group machine, a Rancilio Silvia, & a Sunbeam EM6900. There were quite a few interesting charts; one of them was the SCAA chart of grading coffee, the number of defects, etc. Phil and Cedric made us feel entirely at ease and even showed us a video on latte art. Wow! Triple Rosettas. Phil gave us some tips on latte art as well.

Adrian announced that he’s starting a cafe soon. If you want further details, stay tuned to this blog. He’s already ordered a La Marzocco GB5. Now, people will get to taste what CGSG coffee is all about.

Cedric mentioned he favoured Jura over the Quickmill, which is one of the machines I’m looking into getting. He also mentioned that if you want a good coffee machine, to look at the roots, which is Italy. Not something I would agree on though.

With award winning coffees in my collection – a few Colombian COE’s, Gesha, ecafe Sidamo, it seems justifiable I should be getting a HX machine instead.

While the coffee was better than average Singaporean cafes, the service was a tad on the slow side. Understandable since Ray’s the only barista at the time. And he grinds on demand, meaning he measures out single serving doses into the grinder each time. With freshly roasted coffee, this is the way to go if you want good crema.

Well, KS has given in to hosting the next meetup (read previous post). I’m really looking forward to this one. Steve or KS advised we could have a cupping session. Some talk of having a conference roasting session maybe? Excellent company and excellent coffee to boot. That’s what CGSG is all about.

6 thoughts on “Meetup at Highlander Coffee”

  1. Hi Colin, nice summary of the event. My comments … my double espresso was too bitter for my liking and didn’t have the thick mouthfeel that I enjoy at home. Their cappuccino was, however, very nice. Not sweet, but a nice neutral balance between milk and coffee. I was particularly interested to find out what milk Highlander use and it is ‘Greenfields’. I’ll have to check that brand out myself as I normally use Meiji at home. Having a Spanish espresso machine at home, I’d challenge Phil’s comment about Italian origins, though must point out that my machine does have an E61 grouphead which is of course Italian – Faema. All in all, a great meeting. Look forward to the next! Steve.

  2. Hi Colin,

    Thank you very much for coming by our coffee bar yesterday with your CGSG group. Unfortunately, I didn’t really get to speak one-on-one with you and Paul.

    I’d like to clarify that it was Cedric who mentioned he preferred the Jura over the QuickMill for small superautos. Why? 1.Finishing, Intelligent, Ease of Use, Reliable and nice aesthetics. He’d probably mentioned that for traditional espresso machines, we still look to the Italians although some of their designs (engineering and the aesthetics) have not improved much after all these years.

    I read your interesting blog on the recent barista competition. As a company, it has made us even more determined to transform Singapore to a more vibrant coffee culture with our limited resources. It reinforced our belief that the only way is to create more awareness and raise the overall standards through education.

    It’s heartening for us to know that there is such a group like yours existing here with that level of sophistication. In fact, I am sure you guys will contribute to Singapore’s coffee vibrancy for the home coffee lovers by having a forum, organising regular gatherings and positive exchanges.

    On the flip side, there is the average Joe and Jane who just wanna to enjoy a good cuppa. They don’t plan to participate in any barista competition, change to a HEX boiler, achieve that perfect tamp with that naked portal filter holder, buy that deeper filter basket, purchase the best green beans and home roast their coffee. They simply want to know how to make a good cup of coffee at home using a plunger or drip maker, be more discerning when ordering a specialty coffee at a coffee jaunt, curious to know why they are paying so much for that espresso, cappuccino or caffe latte(since they suspect it’s badly made).

    We are always keen to share with whoever that wants to know more about coffee; irrespective of their level of knowledge. In fact, I did mentioned to everyone that coffee is truly rocket science. The day we stop learning and be complacent is the day when mediocrity sets in. You may be aware that the coffee trade has been around for the past over 40 years in Singapore. Let us all do our part to make it more vibrant and exciting!

    Thanks again for coming by and you are most welcomed to our place anytime.

  3. The first time I went to Highlander Coffee, I tried their double. Same bitter sensation too. I wasn’t impressed with their espresso, despite having fresh beans, which was why I ordered milk drinks the second time. When I pulled the Vivace Dolce at your place, Steve, I just remember this plethora of different tastes coming at me. Your spanish machine, the Expobar Brewtus II, costwise, is but a fraction of these commercial 3 group machines, and yet, I just can’t wipe the memory of tasting my freshly roasted coffee from your machine.

  4. Gentlemen,

    Thanks for your feedback.

    I need to clarify: Our Gino is a 2 Groups machine made in taiwan (we’ve never tried to hide the country of origin to our potential customers). 3 Groups will be an overkill in Singapore; maybe good as a showpiece to match the cafe’s looks and design.

    Another clarification: At one moment, I was trying to show you that this taiwan make doesn’t produce that “outburst” of hot steam that is typical of most Italian machines. In fact, Keith Loh was here the other day and agreed with me because he has a La Scala Carmen. However, I have seen a real Faema and La Mazocco in action flows without the “outburst”. I suspect there are some so-called E61 group installed on some brands (La Scala and ECM) may not be able to achieve that kind of thermal stability that you get from the real Faemas.

    If you are willing to visit us again, we’ll prepare a smoother blend meant for straight shots just for you. Majority of our customers are milk based drinkers that only expect a properly made cup with a fine balance between the milk and the coffee. I think we have well achieve that and will continue to listen and meet their changing taste buds as we go along.

    We certainly hope to see you guys again and this time round we hope to share with you more of our thoughts. Thanks again.

    Phil and Cedric

  5. Hi Phil. Glad you take feedback with such a positive mindset. I really appreciate that. I trust that through the honesty and openness of your customers, you guys will be able to continually push the bar higher. I fully understand that your standard blend will be guided by the drinks that you make most often – and obviously, that is likely to be milk based. Clearly, we are roasting and pulling shots to be drunk as espresso or ristretto 90% of the time. I look forward to returning to your shop to enjoy the atmosphere and share the appreciation of our beloved bean. Cheers, Steve.

  6. just a quick comment on my doppio and cappuccino. The espesso was too hot, bitter. The volume of the extraction was too large to be a real double espresso. The crema was slightly blonde.

    The cappuccino was excellent. Milk masks everything. The froth was good…but perhaps the art could be finer.

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