Origins

May 21, 2017

An era not forgotten.

 

My name is Ronald and I have a deep passion for coffee.

 

My love for the craft started when I was 16 years old. Like many Singaporean kids that age, I worked as a part timer during my school holidays to earn some extra pocket money. 

 

I had my first encounter with a professional Italian espresso machine during my stint at Olio Dome Cafe in Bishan. For those who might be old enough to remember, the Starbucks that is currently located in Bishan's community center used to be Olio Dome Cafe. A quaint and cozy place where the community used to gather for a cigarette or cigar in the alfresco dining area.

 

(Yeah, you can smoke under a shelter last time. Oh, did I mention it was in a community center?) 

 

This was a period in time when a typical cup of latte is bench-marked to a cup from The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (Starbucks only came in a couple of years later). Latte art was non-existent and people do not give 2 cents onto how your espresso is brewed. There is no such thing as pre-infusions and coffee beans were stored in the freezer to maintain "freshness". Oh.. the horrors. 

 

Truth be told, most people during this period don't know what they are drinking anyway.

Despite the wrong teachings, I have secretly fallen in love with the magical bean. I remembered that every time when I opened a bag of "fresh" coffee, I will take my time to savor the delightful aroma that is emitted as the coffee is being grounded into powder. 

 

I am intrigued by the dark brown liquid that is being squeezed out of the crushed grounds and will spend hours observing how the espresso turns from a deep shade of mahogany to bright golden brown and dribbles into light blond. 

 

Nobody taught me the right methods to extract an espresso. Google does not exist back then. However, it was these moments that made me realise that I want to run my own coffee place one day. 

 

I will bring great tasting coffee to the community. 

 

Fast forward 11 years, my team and I started Shrove Tuesday Cafe

It is a humble little dessert cafe located in the heartlands of Toa Payoh and we specialize in waffles and gelato. Customers love our local fusion of Chendol and Milo-dinosaurs signatures. 

 

This was never meant to be a professional coffee place. But I guess passion over-rules and now I am roasting coffee in-house for my guest. 

 

A confession...

 

The journey from a novice barista to a roaster took me more than 12 years. During this period I have knocked onto many brick walls. Until today, I am still constantly learning new stuff about coffee. 

 

Interestingly, I have not had any professional coffee training. I have little passion chasing certificates. And yet, here I am, trying to share my knowledge to the world.

 

Why? - you may ask.

 

Call me a stubborn old man. Truth be told, I enjoy the process of discovery. Plus, I want the masses to know that they do not need accreditation to brew great coffee! Anyone can do it. 

 

Let me give you an example.

 

You are an engineer who love beef and want to learn how to roast the perfect cut. You can learn how to roast beef from a recipe book. But that is so boring and you thought you knew better! After all, those Chef on TV made it look so easy. So you bought a few cuts and tried to whip something up from your kitchen alone. 

 

You added a little of this and sprinkled a little of that. What you did looked really cool - just like that celebrity chef from a TV show. It must be awesome!

 

All of the beef you've bought turned out to taste like burned leather.  

 

One day, and after several failed attempts, you browse though the aisles of the supermarket looking for an inspiration and spotted this weird looking leaf. You thought to yourself, what can that tiny sprig do to change the flavor of your meat? You plug a tiny leaf and rub it in your palms. It smells more like an ingredient for a cocktail than for your meat. 

 

Regardless, you picked a random pack and paid it off at the cashier, hoping for the best.   

 

Back home, you wonder to yourself on what you can do to this sprig of leaf. How about smearing some hot butter onto that sprig? Maybe that will bring out the juice in those leafs? What about the remains of the bunch? Maybe I can chop them up and sprinkle it all over my meat to maximize its use? Right. Let's try that. 

 

You placed that beautiful marble slap of marinated meat over your grill and prayed to all Gods above and thanked their awesome creation of cows and plants and hoped that they will bless your creation in return. Because you might have created an even beautiful-er piece of art (beef) through their magnificent work. 

 

When all is done, you took a tiny whiff. Hmm smells great! You cut a thin slice and placed it in your mouth. BOOM! That amazing burst of flavor! What have you done?! How is this even possible? Oh praise the Lord!

 

That is when you remember the name Rosemary. Forever.

 

That is the same for me with coffee! I love the process of discovery so much because it constantly starve with me curiosity. I will speak to anyone and everyone from the industry with a thirst for knowledge. I will buy books or read up about coffee and the different origins online. I will try different brewing methods and roast profiles to try to bring out the best from the bean.

 

Birds of a feather flock together. Along the way, I have met many mentors who are veterans in the industry. Most of them shared the same passion and we became fast friends. I am very blessed to have received the best education from these teachers.

 

Coffee, is such a curious thing.. it is more than a liquid that perks you up in the morning. It bond people and even communities together.

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