Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Singapore Food Blog - Department of Caffeine

Location: Duxton Road, Central Business District (CBD), Singapore

Updated 1-Jan-2017: This outlet is permanently closed.

I have read enough of "Top 10 cafes to visit in Singapore" that has been shared in the internet and I saw that Department of Caffeine has been on most of those list. Most probably they all copied from the same source and duplicate it as their own list of top 10, but the name itself is quite catchy. You definitely will look for a "department" of caffeine when you are looking for a cuppa joe.

Caffe Mocha (SGD5.50) - thick, good mix of espresso and chocolate, and topped with a nice latte art. What more could you ask for? The cuppa joe would get more acidic at the bottom, most probably due to the choice of coffee bean and method of roasting, so be prepared for that.

Although its location looked easy to get to on a map, for one approaching on foot it was quite a distance away. Since on the map the cafe is of equidistant from Tanjong Pagar, Outram Park and Chinatown MRT stations, we picked Outram Park out of convenience for all of us who resided along different MRT lines. It was only later when we pick our way to Tanjong Pagar station that we realized it would be easier to trek from here than from Outram Park station.

The cafe was unimpressive from the exterior, and upon entering we were surprised by how small and cramped the interior was. The waitresses however were commendable for being friendly and for trying their best to attend us the best they could amidst their hectic activities. We managed to squeeze ourselves in between tables and went through our orders.

Barista in the bar


Unassuming exterior

Department of Caffeine, true to its name, offered no frills coffee, only the basics. Serious drinkers could get themselves espresso, and less serious drinkers (us for example) could choose cappuccino, mocha or latte. Chocolate and tea are available for other caffeine consumers but anyone expecting fancier choices like Matcha Latte or some other flavored coffee should check their expectations at the door. However they did have non-caffeine beverages as choices as well, a good news for bringing along friends who are not part of the caffeine bandwagon.

The Caffe Mocha (SGD5.50) and Cappuccino (SGD5) we ordered were rich and delicious, but the bottom of the cup was acidic, maybe due to the method of roast or choice of coffee beans. Still the overall taste of the cuppa joe was satisfying. My wife wasn't a coffee drinker so she acquired herself neat concoction with a neat name - Orange, Fresh Mint and Elderflower (SGD5.50), a mocktail with a refreshing scent and soothing taste.

Their Iced chocolate (SGD7) was rich in chocolate goodness. My friend's initial choice was "Minty" Hot Chocolate, but it was only offered hot. The friendly barista suggested to add the mint syrup into this glass of ice chocolate, a fine suggestion which resulted in a cooler beverage! Thanks Mr Barista!

Orange, Fresh Mint and Elderflower (SGD5.50), a neat name fitting a cool concoction. The minty flavor was not overwhelming, just enough to balance out the stronger orange taste.

The list of food was not exhaustive but it still gave us pause when selecting what we want. Quite a number of the offered choices were unknown to us, so we picked Mushroom Morsels (SGD7) and Churros and Chocolate (SGD13) from their list of Small Bites, trying to get a taste of what they could offer.

I was indifferent to the former but the latter was rather special. Coated with cinnamon sugar, the star shaped extruded dough was crunchy, the sugar crystals adding a different type of sweetness by distracting your taste buds with the stronger cinnamon. Definitely recommended!

Churros and chocolate (SGD13) is one of the cafe's delightful offering. Rolled in cinnamon sugar, the crunchy star-shaped snack has a (possibly) Iberian origin. Dip it into a chocolate sauce thick as mud and you will be drawn into the dish faster than a quicksand pit. A great teatime snack to go with a cup of cappuccino.

We ordered Mushroom Morsels (SGD7) out of curiosity but I was indifferent to it. Pieces of marinated shitake mushrooms, each coated with crumbs, were served with creme fraiche for dipping. The mushrooms were soft and rubbery, and could be consumed with or without dipping (I prefer without). It wasn't a bad dish, just that i was expecting something crunchy. Having said that, it would be another nice dish for dipping into a thick cuppa joe, especially one with a chocolaty taste. That is a real heaven!

Despite its relative distance from MRT stations, it was still stocked full of patrons, and despite its location in the famed bar scene of Duxton Hill, its price was relatively affordable. For 4 beverages and 2 small bites, it took only a total of SGD43 for 4 patrons, making that an approximate average  of SGD11.

On their menu were some surprisingly steep price offerings - their premium waffles costing a whooping SGD20. Maybe I will return for another cup of coffee and get a bite out of that pricey dessert, just to see if I will get my just dessert.

Conclusion? Definitely one of the more approved hipster cafe, which could offer you something for your buck, not just a nice looking place which make its way into some top 10 list with no reason.

Environment:         A hipster cafe delivering on nice caffeinated drinks
Suitable for:            for friends and for tea time
Food score:              7.5/10
Food:                           4.0/5.0
Service:                       4.0/5.0
Value:                          4.0/5.0
Ambient:                     3.0/5.0

Operating hours:   (Mon - Tue, Thu - Fri) 10.30 a.m. - 7.00 p.m.
                                        (Sat - Sun)                       9.30 a.m. - 7.00 p.m.
                                        (Wed)                              closed
Directions:                The cafe is almost equidistant from Tanjong Pagar, Outram Park and Chinatown MRT station, but it is easier to go from Tanjong Pagar station.

Website:                    Official homepage of Dept of Caffeine
Contact:                    +65 - 6223 3426 (phone)
E-mail:                       deptofcaffeine@gmail.com
Address:                    15 Duxton Road, Singapore 089481.

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