To be honest, I was rather apprehensive on my first visit to Toby’s Estate – I’d only heard about it from serious coffee drinkers and wasn’t sure it was a place for an ignoramus (may I use the word noob?) like me. Suffice to say I’m glad Smitten pointed me here, because now I’ve discovered another place to work and generally make a nuisance of myself.
As someone who knows next to nothing about coffee, I felt like an intruder as I stepped across the threshold. With growing trepidation I scurried to a seat facing the wall, where a friendly waitress produced a daunting menu of coffee options. “Which one’s the least lethal?” I asked sheepishly.
A lovely smooth latte it was.
My order made, I turned to take in my surroundings. Certain things immediately caught my attention: the sunlight flooding the surprisingly cavernous space, the sacks of coffee beans piled high against gouged brick wall – and of course the monstrous steel roaster, with its silver tree-trunk vents growing through the roof. In a land where most living and dining spaces are cramped, the airiness of this Australian coffee house (this is their first outlet in Asia) is liberating.
Learning About Coffee
I’ve been blessed with the kindness of strangers. Terence Tan, head barista at Toby’s Estate Singapore, noticed my inexperience with coffee on that first visit and swiftly came to my rescue, starting me off with my easy latte and giving me a quick crash course on beans and brews. This man has been honing his craft behind the bar for seven years, and his pride shows in the rich and aromatic cup of coffee I’ve (blindly) ordered.
“I started learning about coffee when I was 19 and it just developed from there, discovering the different flavors that one can get from coffee. I love what I do – it’s about wanting to pull that perfect shot every time.” At 4pm, it’s the first time he’s sat down the entire day but he’s still full of energy – a result of the coffee, the passion, or both?
I’m not quite converted yet, but at least Terence got me Googling “single origins vs blends” and drawing parallels with tea. Which reminds me: Toby’s Estate also offers regular coffee tasting sessions, for those who really love the brew.
It seems seat-hoggers like me are welcome at Toby’s Estate, for they provide not just free Wi-Fi but also power sockets at the large, sanded-down communal table. On my second visit, this time in the morning, I am surrounded by a mélange of sounds and smells: the clatter of plates, the hiss of steaming milk, and the impatient bell announcing freshly made coffee all float around in a sea of conversation and music. What bliss!
Despite the industrial décor the atmosphere is incredibly relaxed, in true Ozzie fashion. It’s the perfect spot to observe people, eavesdrop on conversations, or slowly get a bit of work done while enjoying a scrumptious meal. I can already foresee that I’ll be a regular here – but first, I’ve got to visit the next stop that Terence has recommended for me: Nylon Coffee Roasters.
Whether you’re looking for fine specialty coffee, seeking a new source of inspiration, or just want to get away from the crowded city cafés, Toby’s Estate is a must-visit.