An interview with Christine, one of the owners of Dapper Coffee, a hidden away awesome café on Amoy Street.
Often for me, it’s the person behind the coffee machine that makes the place and keeps me coming back. Dapper Coffee is one of these places. Read our previous review here. I love this place and whenever I’m on Amoy Street, I try and pop in for a quick (or leisurely) coffee. If Christine is there, she’ll convince me to try something new and I am never unhappy. It was here that I first experienced Gold Press Coffee (mesmerizing!), Unicorn Tears (a blue concoction of sweetness), Dirty Chia, even nut milk in coffee (horrified as I was with the idea, it was really rather good). She’s also told me about how to make cold brew and introduced me to Ottolenghi who has a vegetarian cookbook Plenty More from which I should try a few recipes for The Vegetarian.
In the morning Dapper Coffee is a great spot to work. Fantastic coffee, a friendly vibe, I used to get alot done here when I came more often. At lunchtime, it’s full of activity, crowded even. But their lunch menu is unique and I like Christine’s take on twisted comfort food. She seems to me a bit like a mad scientist of the foodie kind, always coming up with something new to challenge the curious eater (or drinker).
I’m really happy to bring you our interview with Christine. Make sure you pop into Dapper Coffee soon and say hello.
How did it all begin? Why did you open a cafe?
It started in Boat Quay, I used to frequent a crappy hole-in-the-wall bar (The Spiffy Dapper). And eventually I met the owner, George (who’s my business partner now).
I ended up working for him briefly, literally being paid in booze. It was a beautiful relationship.
Eventually, he told me about his grand plans to move to Amoy Street and asked me if I wanted to partner up with him to run a daytime cafe business. So shortly after I graduated, I got stuck in.
Who are your regulars?
We have the best regulars in the world! We’re surrounded by gyms and offices, so we get really hot guys in spandex and suits all the time!
The folks at Amoy Street are really wonderful though, they are chatty, friendly, and always supportive of anything new and crazy that we do. It almost feels like a little village, or a big wacky family – I would not want a cafe anywhere else in Singapore.
What’s in your hopper?
Our main blend is the 22 Martin from Common Man Coffee Roasters. I like it because it’s really strong, without being offensive. It’s very important to me that your coffee tastes like, well, coffee. Nothing annoys me more than a watery latte that’s supposedly peppered with “subtle floral notes”.
Describe your menu?
It’s honestly a really eclectic mix – I’d just describe it as “food that you’d want to eat everyday”. So we have comfort staples, elevated, with a little twist in them – Korean Cheesesteak, which is overflowing with bulgogi and kimchi and American cheese fondue… Crab Mac & Cheese with brown butter garlic crumble and a splash of white wine… and so on.
The drinks menu is a bit of a wild child at the moment and it’s our goal to showcase cafe-type drinks with a bartender’s influence. We build with purpose, use equipment to our advantage, use glassware intelligently and always have something that’ll surprise – that’s the gist of our principles.
What’s your favorite part of having a cafe.
Uhm, having a playground to do whatever I want in? Hahahaha!
No, but for real, it’s opened up a lot of doors for me in the industry and I’ve managed to make a lot of great connections under the title of “Cafe Owner’. I also really like being able to teach new skills to kids who’ve otherwise worked under stiff, stuffy conditions. It’s really satisfying to inspire them, and watch them run wild and free with ideas and creativity.
Any interesting things you’re working on at the moment?
Right now, we’re working on a couple of new business extentions – namely Coco Shake Bay (A coconut milkshake store), Coco Ninja (A coconut/fruit drink pop-up concept) and Little Drizzle (A cake shop). I’m also working with a factory in the hopes of getting our infamous sparkly drinks available worldwide – I’d do anything to see Unicorn Tears in New York, or Gold Brew in Australia.
What would you say to anyone opening an independent cafe or wanting to be a barista?
Being a barista is probably one of the easiest fields in the F&B world, but that said it’d still pretty tough. Master your craft with thought and purpose, and set very clear goals for yourself with what you’d like to achieve. But always remember that diversification = power! Don’t limit yourself to just coffee, learn how to bartend, or taste wine, or cook, or bake too.
As for people wanting to open up a cafe – be realistic. It’s not all fun and games, and it’s a very tough and expensive ordeal if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you’ve not got any experience in the field, don’t do it.
You should also know very clearly what skills you lack, and surround yourself with people to make up for it. So many new cafe owners take on the burden of the entire business themselves and get overwhelmed by it!
For more information:
73 Amoy Street, Singapore
Second Floor (Above Alati Restaurant)
T: 9005 4790
Monday to Friday: 8am-5pm
Closed Public Holidays
Feature image by Vanilla Beige. All other images from Instagram @dappercoffee. This article was originally published on www.vanillabeige.com and may have been edited for this platform.