Oriole Cafe and Bar: Arguably the Best Cup of Coffee in Singapore.... Arguably

Where can you get the best cup of coffee in Singapore?

As I hinted in the title, this is a very contentious question because everyone has a place for their favourite cuppa.  To make any assertion, one must have a basis.  If the basis is personal taste, then we can argue till the cows come home after milking them for cuppucino.  But if the basis is on something more objective like an award, then we might just have something to tilt  the argument to our favour.

So, here is a cup of Piccolo Latte which is made by Keith Loh, who happens to be both Singapore's National Barista champion as well as the National Latte Art Champion.  He just happens to own a Coffee Roaster and procures his own artisan coffee beans.   So does it make this cup of Piccolo Latte the best cup of coffee in Singapore?

Maybe, maybe not. 

But you sure would want to find out wouldn't you?

The coffee roaster they call "Ella" after the curvaceous Nigella Lawson

And since we are arguing, what the heck is a Piccolo Latte anyway?  Well, Piccolo in Italian means small, so a Piccolo Latte is simply a small Latte.  Small Latte? Why not just buy one cup of Latte and share with a friend?  On top of that, the Piccolo Latte is actually more expensive than the normal Latte, so what gives?

Well, to put things in a coffee beanshell, a Piccolo Latte is somewhere in between a Macchiato and a Latte which all boils down to how much milk they put into your coffee.  With the Macchiato, you get a small drop of milk in your expresso, with the Latte, you get a small drop of coffee with your milk.  With a Piccolo Latte, you essentially get more coffee than a latte and more milk than a Macchiato.  Got it?

Ok, maybe if I put it this way it is more clear.  In a Cafe you order Piccolo Latte when you want Kopi Gao. (stronger coffee) You order Latte when you want Kopi Poh. (lighter coffee) And you order Macchiato when you want Kopi Gao Siu Dai.(Strong coffee with less milk). Sort of.

Just in case you visit Oriole and Keith is not around, you don't have to despair that your cuppa is made by a student earning extra pocket money.  His head barista, John Ting, so happens to be the runner up in the National Barista competition.  Actually, he was the champion in the two previous years, but this year his boss must have threatened him so that they switched positions.

Anyway it is rather fun watching these fellas do their Latte art.  So your $5.50 cup of Piccolo Latte actually comes with entertainment value as well, that is if you sat at the counter watching them make your cuppa.  Keith was trying to show me various patterns that can be made by pouring hot milk into expresso.  It really is fascinating.

Latte Art

When it comes to coffee, I am not your "You should only take coffee with nothing added" type of guy.  I usually like mine with milk so that it tastes more like your typical Japanese Milk Coffee.  Coffee connoiseurs would frown upon me of course, but hey, I still can't understand what the fascination is with a mouthful of sour expresso.  It is not as if you get a big shot of caffeine, since brewed coffee has more caffeine in it.  And everytime I taste it, it just tastes sour and bitter.  I guess I need to hang around Keith and John more to appreciate it.

So the Piccolo Latte suits me fine.  Its got milk in it but because it also has more coffee, I still get that strong coffee flavour compared to Lattes sold at some other places where you are basically drinking flavoured milk.  Knowing that so much care has been put into the roasting, brewing and preparation of my one cup of coffee does make it one of the best cups of coffees that your $5.50 can buy. 4.5/5 

If you have ever wondered about Japanese style cold coffee, and why it tastes so nice, let me share with your what I learnt from Keith.  They serve a version of cold coffee with milk here that is made the same way that it is done in Japan.  Cold coffee isn't simply Kopi Peng (coffee with ice).  No, cold coffee is actually made by soaking the coffee powder in room temperature water overnight. By cold brewing the coffee, it is much less acidic because hot water is needed to dissolve the bitter oils and fatty acids that gives coffee its bitter and sour notes. It is actually an ancient technique employed by the South Americans before it was rediscovered 40 years ago. So if you want to try a different type of Kopi Peng, be sure to order the cold coffee! 4.25/5

Mr Keith Loh National Barista Champion explaining expresso

Special for ieatishootipost readers!

Print out this coupon and get a cup of Piccolo Latte worth $5.50 free when your friend buys a cup! (Or you can buy your friend a cup of Piccolo Latte without having to pay for it).

1.  You have to print the coupon (please don't show it on your iphone)
2.  Valid from Mon-Thurs until the end of April
3.  One coupon per customer
4.  Not valid with other promotions
5. Please leave your name, email and contact number on the back so they can update you on the latest happenings at Oriole!

Oriole Cafe and Bar
96 Somerset Road
#01-01 Pan Pacific Serviced Suites
Tel: +65 6238 8348

Many thanks to Keith and John for spending the afternoon teaching us about coffee!

Here is an interesting site to see more Latte Art!


Holy Drummer said...

I'll be the first to say I don't like coffee. I get a tremendous headache if I drink bad coffee (nope, I'm not gonna mention names)

But Oriole takes the (espresso) cake. No caffeine overdose here, whatever that means.

I'm left intrigued by the intricacies of coffee, as with tea. And I'm glad to have had the opportunity. Keith has totally piqued my acquiring interest in the art of kopi lol.

But if there's one cuppa you can't do without, it's their Latte.

Or the Espresso Martini, now off the menu. Every single time it was full blown orgasm multiple times over, sorry for the porn.

Food wise, I'd recommend the WHOLE menu, which one can be very tempted to order (I almost did)

But if you must pick & choose, you can't go wrong with their risotto of the day, beef cheek tagliatelle, fish & chips & (I'm sure pchong would agree) philly cheese steak.

Desserts - By default, my favourite is the honey crumble affogato, simple but perfectly executed.

Ladies will love the Eton Mess and probably appreciate it better tha the guys, too.

P.S: Keith was behind the now defunct Whitebait & Kale @ Camden Medical Centre. Now he also helms Bedrock Bar & Grill next to Oriole & Aerin's @ Raffles City.

ice said...

I never knew that about cold coffee. Very informative!

zhouzi said...

Kopi Gao Siu Dai.(Strong coffee with less milk)??? Always thought that means strong coffee with less sugar.
Were you invited by Keith? The tenor of the article seems like it.

CK Lam said...

I am a coffee lover and cannot pass a day without coffee. Definitely love to visit Oriole Cafe and Bar.
Do mark this place for me on my next trip ya :)

ieat said...

So when you coming again CK?

ieat said...

Zhouzi, you should know by now that if we were invited by Keith that it would have been written in the post. This was something I wanted to do when I learnt that he won the National Barista Competition.

spottiswoode said...

hmm... have you heard of papa pelhata?

ieat said...

I got a feeling you are going to tell us.

uLi.佑莉 said...

Oh, nice cup of coffee...it waken me up!!

坦克车宝宝 said...

Hello - Oriole is really one of the best places in town for good coffee and good food.

Another place worth checking out the coffee is Highlander's at Neil Road - note they're closed on Sundays though.

坦克车宝宝 said...

Oh - also, check out the chili mocha at Oriole. Most definitely a unique drink that you don't find out there...

sh said...

i love love love oriole :D
love their ribs (though there's one time that it was too dry, but still very good); love their pasta with crab meat; love the pasta with beef cheek, love the cod fish "pot pie", love the drinks, and the ambiance.
i tried the winning drink, citrus sin. but i didnt taste much citrus in it, it's mostly coffee + chocolate to me; so i'm not a big fan. but i'll keep coming back for other things!

(i like the fact that they have fuzzy navel too, not too many places in singapore have it :D haha)

Mac said...

Oriole has been my favourite for quite some time since I was introduced to it about half a year ago, while they were still hiding snugly at Pan Pacific Suits behind makeshift planks while 313@Orchard was under construction

Please try their honey crumble affrogato. It's a sin not to.

Do try out their Sunday brunch menus as well. Reasonable prices, beautiful place and out of this world coffee. I hate you ieat, for revealing the best hidden gem on Orchard ;)

iJeff said...

I have tried the Piccolo Latte at Oriole before and it was good!

In the office, I can only have my Nespresso Arpeggio.

zhouzi said...

Oops, my bad. Thought you left that little phrase out in error.

J2Kfm said...

Ditto! I can't imagine coffee without milk. Especially people who like their espressos, and kopi-o. Urgh ... and thanks for the information on Japanese coffee. I love them to bits, introduced to it through Pokka canned coffee drinks.

snake86 said...

You guys got chance go next door to Bedrock, i did, and was not disappointed, granted it burnt one good one in my "proper food" budget for the month of march( and some actually into april ), but it was totally worth it.

ieat said...

Yeah, I had a chopped steak burger at Bedrock and it was good! But $29++ is one ex burger. USDA Prime Ribeye though.

BTW, they are still extending the 10% discount if you mention ieatishootipost! It seems that it is a ongoing promotion!

Jyoan said...

Very interesting. Another cafe with nice food? Wasn't so tempted until I read all you peeps comments on the food, food, food.

weare said...

Good review! Personally wasn't impressed with the food at Oriole even if it isn't very expensive. Tried the fish and chips and the beef cheek tagliatelle - both were strike-outs.

As for coffee, I think Oriole is a good option if you're in the area, but I personally prefer the coffee at Black which is just across the road at 111 Somerset. It's the way the Oriole baristas pull the espresso shot - I don't think it's the best way to get the crema out.

Plus, Oriole tends to be a bit too packed most nights. Black is quieter coz I think it's kinda new, and the decor has a lot more character and care behind it. Oh, they have pretty good desserts there too.

Jyoan said...

The coffee is very rich. It is bitter. But it still has that milk taste, and is so bearable for me that I felt like holding every mouthful for longer instead of swallowing down. Kind of like dark chocolate I guess, bitter but shiok. Went alone and gladly downed both cups!! I wanted more.

The salmon was great, and mushrooms well-cooked too. I like the sauce (kind of like carbonara). But the spaghetti (noodles itself) can be cooked better. It taste quite hard, like just taken out of the freezer kind. I love the salmon.

Tried citrus cheesecake for dessert. 100 marks for citrus, 50 marks for cheesecake. Pretty far from being a good cheesecake, but the citrus taste was excellent! Didn't expect it to be taste-able. Normally flavoured cheesecakes are not true to what it claims, e.g. blueberry very little blueberry taste. Citrus lovers should try this. =)

Unfortunately, service was disappointing despite the non-peak hour, but I enjoyed the ambience and "space" very much since I was there during tea time. Great for meeting friends, or just emo alone... ... hahahaha. I like the choice of sofa seats, normal seats, bar seats, and outdoor seats. It's true that this place is forever crowded when the sun sets though.

ieat said...

Did you eat all that by yourself?!!!

Jyoan said...

Hmmm, is it a lot? Only two cups of coffee, one main and a dessert... Okay, maybe it was, because I was too full to finish the noodles and cheesecake. Knew I ordered cheesecake, so had to refrain from eating too much noodle. And was indeed too full to finish the cheesecake. Sigh. Both of them were so tasty I had wanted to gorge myself. I have no idea why I was so full when I only effectively ate that 1 meal for the entire day. Bread at 7am, and I couldn't stomach dinner after that.

Must control as I keep having acid reflux nowadays when I eat too much. Never used to be so.

Jyoan said...

Oh, by the way, this Pan Pacific Suites place is nothing like what it looks like on the map.

It's not behind and separated from 313. Can reach easily if you cut in from Coffee Club at California Fitness, or go out from the door at Marche 313.

I was quite stupid to walk from the back as I came from Orchard Central side. Took some time to find.

And the silliest thing was that I've seen this place 1001 times because I frequent 313, but had never noticed its name. Wish they print the name bigger.

jems said...

Yes, the jap soak the coffee and then put it on drip overnight to get the coffee for the cold coffee. They also use the cold drip coffee to make coffee jelly for desserts~ I used to part time at Suzuki Coffee house and learnt that many years back :)
Such japanese cafes have disappeared in Singapore over the years... and one opened next to Centrepoint but it closed down after 1 year in operations :(

jems said...

Oriole serves a chilli flavored coffee btw, so for a different taste go try it. Yes you can taste a tinge of the chilli flavor in it :)
and Black's coffee at 111 Somerset is not bad too~

Penny Uni said...

Macchiato, Piccolo Latte, Latte all have the same dose of coffee.
Normally a single shot of espresso.

What differs is the amt of milk:
Macchiato > A dash / "mark" of milk
Piccolo Latte > A relatively small amt of milk
Latte > Relatively More milk than a Piccolo

So each drink is relatively stronger or weaker in terms of coffee flavour, simply due to the amt of milk combined with the shot of espresso.

howie said...

He's really an artist, so clever. I love iced coffee. I drank Vietnamese iced coffee one time, its so great in summer. Oh I want to go there.

Holy Drummer said...


I totally love Vietnamese Iced Coffee too! Simply the best!

I tried making some on Sunday at home. Not an easy process indeed!

Thanks for sharing the link!


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