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Food

Narrative Coffee Stand: Minimalistic Third-Wave Café With Speciality Coffee and Homemade Bakes Hidden in Bras Basah Complex

Last Updated: April 6, 2020

Written by Dawn Yeo

Third-wave coffee houses have been all the craze recently, with places like Chye Seng Huat Hardware and The Glasshouse popping up all over the radar, attracting customers with their speciality coffee and minimalist aesthetic. If you’re looking for a new coffee stand that’s “same but different”, Narrative Coffee Stand is the one for you. 

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Situated in the heart of Bugis at Bras Basah Complex, Narrative Coffee Stand is very much a hole-in-the-wall concept. Decked out in hues of white and blue, it has a clean yet vibrant feel to it, as compared to other cafes with monochromatic colour palettes. The shop is furnished with light wood chairs and tables, and a long island table top where all the filtering and brewing magic happens. 

The man who runs the show, Thong, explained to us that he used to work in Nylon Coffee Roasters (a popular local roastery) for about a year, until he decided that he wanted to have his own space. Meanwhile, one of his customers ran the Dancing Goat, and business wasn’t doing too well. Chancing upon the opportunity, Thong partnered up with him and the shop underwent a rebranding into what we now know as Narrative Coffee Stand. 

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If you were wondering what third-wave coffee is, it emphasises the sourcing and quality of the coffee beans, especially ensuring that they are sustainable. 

Thong proudly shared that some of his espresso beans are imported from Europe, specifically Scandinavia, because the beans there are processed straight from the coffee cherry. The beans he provides are all single-origin, to make sure that the identity and authenticity are not lost as compared to a blend. 

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However, the inspiration for Narrative Coffee Stand’s name is not just about the story of his coffee, although that is important, but Thong’s belief that each customer who enters the shop adds to its unique identity as a coffee shop. 

He wanted his shop to embody the essence of a coffee shop where conversation flows over a good cup of coffee, and the importance of building comfortable friendships with his customers, an environment he couldn’t find in any other coffee house in Singapore. 

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The first drink we tried was an Espresso (S$4) made with Los Rodriguez beans from Caranavi, Bolivia. Thong prepared it on the spot for us from start to finish, starting with grounding the beans, tamping, brewing and finally serving it in a cute little cup. To prevent his beans from ageing (similar to wine) and changing the final taste, he freezes the beans when they arrive to preserve their freshness. 

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The Los Rodriguez beans are described to have a wine-like acidity, with the taste and aroma of pear cider and strawberry, as well as floral notes of orange blossom. Taking a whiff of the espresso, I could definitely detect the winey smell which was quite unorthodox but also really intriguing. 

Drinking it, it reminded me of a full-bodied red wine, with fruity and sweet undertones that helped to combat the natural acidity of the coffee. Even though I’m not a black coffee person, I really enjoyed how unique this espresso was, compared to the extremely acidic ones that I associate with the words ‘speciality coffee’.

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Next, we had their White Coffee (S$4.50), everyone’s typical go-to drink, embellished with some classy latte art. They also have non-dairy options available, like oat milk and soy milk for an extra S$0.50

As someone who prefers milder coffee, this was right up my alley—light on the palate with a subtly sweet berry taste. It wasn’t too milky to the point where my espresso-loving partner couldn’t enjoy it either, perfect for all coffee-drinkers. 

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The drink I was most looking forward to trying was their E&T (S$7), which stands for espresso and tonic, Narrative’s creative spin on a gin and tonic cocktail. The end result was a fizzy reaction between the two components, creating a kind of carbonated coffee. 

The taste of this drink was quite unusual, like Coke but with a shot of coffee. Something about mixing it with tonic enhanced the taste of the espresso, but it didn’t have a very strong kick. It was one-of-a-kind, acted as a good wake-me-up and also happened to make for a very cool Instagram video. 

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Apart from coffee, Narrative Coffee Stand also sells homemade pastries, baked by Thong himself, out of his love for baking and experimenting with new recipes. In the future, he hopes to open a bakery next door, following in the footsteps of the Korean bakery coffee shop trend. 

The Sea Salt Brownie (S$4) was baked to perfection, with a slightly fudgy centre and a light sprinkling of sea salt. The salt cut through the thick chocolatey goodness, a salty-sweet combination that I couldn’t get enough of. 

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My experience here has really made me understand what Thong meant by cultivating a coffee shop culture—seeing him interact with his regulars, knowing exactly what they wanted, being so open and eager to share about himself, his coffee and his vision with us, even though it was our first time there. The fact that the cafe is small, also adds to the intimacy and cosiness of it. 

Safe to say, I will definitely be making the trip back here, not only for the great coffee but also for the coffee shop feel that I’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Pay them a visit, I’m sure you won’t regret it. 

Expected Damage: S$3 – S$10 per pax

Price: $

Our Rating: 5 / 5

Narrative Coffee Stand

Blk 231 Bain Street, Bras Basah Complex, #01-05, Singapore 180231

Price
Our Rating 5/5

Narrative Coffee Stand

Blk 231 Bain Street, Bras Basah Complex, #01-05, Singapore 180231

Telephone: +65 9180 2937
Operating Hours: 8.30am - 6pm (Mon to Fri), 10am - 6pm (Sat & Sun)
Telephone: +65 9180 2937

Operating Hours: 8.30am - 6pm (Mon to Fri), 10am - 6pm (Sat & Sun)
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