By Heneage Mitchell
Singaporean coffee lovers and fans of the Australian gourmet chain Toby’s Estate welcomed the opening of the well-known artisanal java brand’s first outlet in Singapore in the picturesque enclave of Robertson Quay on 8 Rodyk Street last October 7.
Like other Toby’s Estate cafes in Australia and the US, this newest addition to its chain of successful ventures will focus squarely on high-quality brews made from signature roasted blends and techniques that have since been perfected by founder Toby Smith himself from his humble beginnings in his mother’s Woolloomooloo (Sydney, Australia) garage 13 years ago.
The café is in a refurbished warehouse that was used for coffee, cocoa and spices in Singapore’s early years.
“To reflect this history, the space is kept raw, using wood, concrete, and steel to reflect the building’s history with a relaxed, casual setting,” according to a company spokesperson. “Our mural behind the bar, hand painted by a group of local artists, beautifully depicts the journey of the coffee from the bean to the cup.”
The new retail outlet, with its impressive Loring Smart Roast coffee roaster, is a riverside café with spacious indoor and outdoor seating and free WiFi offering its signature coffee brews and tea blends as well as a tempting array of handmade pastries, locally sourced by independent providers. Toby’s Estate signature blends and single origins coffee, tea and chocolate are on sale together with the Chemex, the V60 brewing method as well as coffee siphons, coffee tampers and barista tools.
“While the coffee culture in Singapore is newly burgeoning, locals are only beginning to gain a deeper appreciation for good coffee judging from the handful of independent specialist coffee purveyors that are dwarfed by mainstream beverage café chains” according to Toby’s Estate. “However, Toby is enthusiastic that the climate for coffee is set up for a positive change, with people slowly but surely becoming more aware and involved about the various aspects of their favorite brew, from the point of harvest to the end product.”
“For us, it is all about the journey of the bean,” according to Smith. “We take pride that we do our business sustainably and when it comes to the process of creating that perfect cup, we also take it very seriously.”
Among the brews on offer is the Rodyk Blend. This house blend is named after the coffee shop’s home in Singapore on Rodyk Street. It is a smooth, well-rounded coffee with a spicy nose and long lingering berry chocolate aftertaste, great with milk and very rounded as an espresso. It is a blend of the bigger bodied Indonesian and African coffees with a Central American twist of sparkling acidity.
All the Toby’s Estate baristas are technically experienced in coffee brewing and are further trained specially in the field by master coffee roaster Alvaro Sanchez, who has been with Toby’s Estate for more than five years.
Toby’s Estate employs the biggest concentration of barista competition winners and finalists of any café in town. All six of them are passionate, friendly and quality driven individuals.
“The espresso is crafted by our expert baristas using the Mirage Tripplette By Kees van der Westen, a state of the art espresso machine as beautiful in aesthetics, as it is functional, supported by Mazzer Robur grinders,” according to the company.
Toby’s Estate coffees are roasted with the Loring Smart Roast System. It is a hybrid system that uses hot air and drum roasting technologies to give the most precise and even roast possible. It is also the greenest coffee roaster in the market using 80% less gas and electricity than any other roaster of its category and virtually emission free.
The Loring machine is supported by a small Probat laboratory roaster and a colorette (color measuring laboratory device to confirm roasting degree) used to test new batches of coffee and try out new roasting profiles.
Toby’s Estate Coffee Lab utilizes the highly acclaimed Clover brewing machine, the Chemex, the V60 brewing method as well as coffee siphons to develop the most exciting sensory experiences from its origins.
Toby’s Estate stocks coffee from around the globe, which it serves as origins to showcase their individual characters. In addition to two house blends, also on offer are Sumatra, Ethiopia and several more origins, each of which has been selected for their unique flavor characteristics.
Currently Toby’s Estate are showcasing three Cup of Excellence Origins from Costa Rica, Guatemala and Colombia.
Toby’s Estate’s decaf coffee is decaffeinated with CO2 which leaves no trace of off-flavors and has no additives. Drinkers will not know that they are tasting decaf. Toby’s Estate believes that every cup of coffee should be great tasting, even for those who are more sensitive to caffeine.
Like the coffee, the best cocoa comes as single origin. Toby’s Estate chooses the Ghana Red Drinking chocolate for its rich, rounded and lingering characteristics.
Toby’s Estate Singapore stocks a wide selection of specialty teas and infusions, including Toby’s Breakfast Blend, an original take on the traditional English breakfast, as well as a number of infusions such as the Organic Refresh - a blend of lemongrass, mint and green tea.
In fact, the company imports directly (and frequently for freshness) a range of over 60 varieties of teas from India, China, Japan and Sri Lanka. It selects a quality range of black, semi-fermented, white, green and herbals, then blends its own label.
Founded in 1998, Toby’s Estate is an Australian-based coffee roaster, retailer, wholesaler and training company. Founder and director Toby Smith, has more than a decade of industry experience that began in 1997 when he travelled to South America working on coffee plantations and with a coffee trading company that gave him a firm grounding in grading, cupping (coffee tasting), exporting and importing.
Following his return from South America, Toby endeavored to set up his own coffee house, Toby’s Estate. He began in 1998 from his mother’s garage with a 5kg roaster in which he would roast and sell the beans he had imported directly from the farmer, as well as hold coffee education and training classes.
Direct farm bean sourcing, roasting and training have remained integral parts of Toby’s Estate’s expansion into retail and cafes.
Smith and his team select only the most distinctive high altitude arabica coffees from around the globe, combining beans so that their flavors complement one another without losing their individual terroir qualities.