Read full review
2014-05-14 362 views
A coffee enthusiast that I drink coffee with in Hong Kong has been so enamored with Nylon in Singapore so dearly that I thought Nylon is that person's "Mecca" for coffee even the person lives hours away by plane from Nylon. Of course, this is a must stop-by if I happen to be in the area and with my personal/in the flesh experience, I find myself in agreement with this enthusiast. There are lots of things that Nylon did right on coffee and hospitality.These were what I saw once I stepped off the
Of course, this is a must stop-by if I happen to be in the area and with my personal/in the flesh experience, I find myself in agreement with this enthusiast. There are lots of things that Nylon did right on coffee and hospitality.
These were what I saw once I stepped off the cab; I'm in the middle of housing estate HDB. I walked pass all local places like Kopi tiam and the like, and I thought to myself I'm about to get loss in this place.
Walking toward the main street which is called Cantonment Road (not that easy to see from the spot I'm off the cab as there were some tree and structures blocking the view of the road but you can definitely hear things.)
Turn around the corner, passing local shops, which are getting hipper as I went further into the area. Suddenly you see those cool looking crowd in and out the door, which seems out of place for the estate. That is when you realize you reach one of Singapore’s best coffee place. In addition to the cool and hip vibe Nylon has, I really like the clean line and things that makes up of it. A bit too simplistic it will be barren. A bit too much it will be messy. This is somehow work and just right!
The long table, standing only, is a newer addition to what it was, a good sign indeed for its business. Outside of the shop there're boxes and places to sit. This is Singapore after all and the heat wasn't too kind for me so I prefer indoor with air conditioning. Again, another minimalist approach. This time it's the rack of products Nylon carries. When I look at this pictures, I realize that I forgot to get Nylon button on its 2nd anniversary. I want to kick myself...
Yes, Nylon is in business for more than two years now and it is still going strong. It’s not easy to reach this point for any indie café and let’s see what brings Nylon up to here.
In general the shop is very charming. Nylon has a feel of friendly nice guys in the neighborhood, reminding me of the old Knockbox Coffee in Hong Kong when the shop was still in the Sheung Wan area. In addition to La Marzocco GS2, two white Mazzer Robur grinders are there. In the hopper is the Four Chairs seasonal espresso blend. I think it's a throw back to when the shop was smaller (ie no additional space that now houses the stand only table) and there seemed to be only four chairs at the time. My guess. Notice the price list, which is simple, particularly on milk drink. This price list is similar to a famous cafe in London called Prufrock i.e. dividing milk drinks by size, not the proportion of milk to coffee to foam for each drink type. This is a newer trend which may fit some well. In my case, Cappuccino is the 5oz drink. Thank God, cappuccino has no chocolate powder in there by default, which is a good thing. Why does good Indie cafe want to ruin the good milk frothing skill, which should deliver good texture and sweetness without any need for ‘additives’ if the barista is good at doing the job.
Still, the cup is on the hot side toward the high end of my acceptable temperature range. The high temperature kinda 'shocks' your tastebud and reduce your perception of taste while there is a chance of milk scalding which further reduces the milk sweetness in the cup, let alone the velvety texture as the temp stole the show in a not a nice way.
Still, it has a caramel note with some ok texture and bits of milk sweetness left in there. The coffee base plays a nice and balanced role and it didn't overwhelm this cup of milk coffee; this simple and good thing seem hard to get these days as the boasty toasty over the top coffee was mistakenly extolled to the sky for good coffee, IMHO.
The milk has a tiny bit of starchy ending; I know right away it must be Thai CP-Meiji milk which Thai cafes complain a lot for a long while but it seemed to find successes outside its country both in Singapore and Hong Kong. In all, I would be very ok with this cup if I'm here in Singapore again.
The espresso has a similar in tone to Common Man’s house blend but one can easily sense Nylon hit the right balance. Berry tone with a hint of caramel at the back and the overall cup has a soft and nice tone on the back of a rather simple blend of Brazil and Colombia, yesteryear’s just a lowly base coffee for espresso blend now showing off their strengths from the leading coffee growing countries. It is an accomplishment indeed, particularly comparing to cups I had earlier from Common Man, making Nylon’s coffee heavenly cups indeed. The dirty hint at the back was there but barely detectable with some peel/astringency aftertaste. Overall the coffee reminds me a bit of Square Mile Coffee of the UK.
It is interesting as Nylon word itself came from NY (New York) and Lon (London) but I find lots more "London", ie brighter coffee but still drinkable, in the cup which reminds me of Square Mile Coffee roaster from the UK. The balanced nature, typical for coffee from the US that stressed more on filtered coffee than espresso, was nowhere to be found in the coffee I had at Nylon in Singapore and bags of coffee I have had from Nylon in Hong Kong. If the place names itself London, I wouldn't have this curiosity.
Another barista, not one of Nylon founders that came in third at the first Aeropress competition in Singapore, prepared the Aeropress for me on that day. Notice the “IT” grinder EK43 in the background. The Aeropress of Ethiopia Workye Shallo I had is watery and not tasty enough though I still get the tasting note of wild dry flower in the front, which is quite common for coffee from Ethiopia. There was some hint of creaminess but its acidity feels like the roasting of the filtered coffee is not quite there yet.
Still, this is much better than filtered coffee from Toby's Estate and Common Man which, IMHO, were way out of line/under-ripened/not properly ripened fruit kinda coffee. I think this could be better, much better coffee in the right hand which for drip coffee I expect a clean and clear tasting note from front to finish with, for a good one, a crispness so refreshing closer to fruit juice no matter the strength of that cup of coffee. However, the cup is decent in that at least you can still taste something in there. I had had worse from famous cafes.
While this is a product of EK43, the cup didn't show EK43's clarity signature with less peak and valley taste profile I typically associated with this grinder on the back of its high consistency of its grind size. This taste profile can be typically found at The Cupping Room, Hazel & Hershey and Fresh/hkcoffee in Hong Kong; these shops use EK43 in both espresso and filtered coffee. This particular cup of coffee at Nylon tastes just like any other decent grinder and if I don't see EK43/know Nylon used it, I can't tell....
So what's the benefit of Mahlkoenig EK43 here at Nylon? It could be that the barista at Nylon does not like this kind of 'flat' taste profile so it could be just a mere fast grinder. Again, my opinion only. The best souvenir from Nylon to take back home is, of course, its coffee. The coffee is good every now and then you see cafes in Hong Kong features coffee from Nylon as guest beans.
The four chairs seasonal espresso as hand drip coffee is quite nice with a smooth and soft acidity front and middle which is typical and expected from a blend of simple base coffee like Brazil and Colombia for this blend. The back is rather blurred/dull/not clear but when you ran this blend through espresso, the sharp and thick consistency of the espresso should minimize this woody back.
The Colombia El Palmito pour over at Freshness Coffee in Hong Kong was soft, sweet and quite balanced and, again, reminds me of Square Mile Coffee Roasters with some grape tone. There were roasty aftertaste which becomes more prominent when the coffee gets colder but not that distracting. Not bad. From walking in and sitting down, following by cups of coffee and observing how Nylon interacted with customers, I had no doubt why customers love this place. A nice warm feeling and the care they put into to each and every customer makes them feel like friends than customers. The coffee roasting itself shows improvement over the past two years with a mellower taste profile, not trying to be a overly pushy brighter than bright attention seeking coffee which some mistaken it for "third wave/new trend" but just a right touch of the taste which is the style at Nylon. Nylon has not fumbled on their coffee brewing neither even in its second year; the focus on delivering good cup of coffees one at a time to each customer is still nonpareil.
This nice hospitality is not easy to come by but Nylon did it so naturally which is really great. I like to thank all staffs for great experience I had during my visit on the hot outside but warm inside the cafe on that Friday morning.
Drinking coffee at Nylon is a learning experience, almost an eye-opening on how good coffee can be. This might make you look at back to your usual coffee haunt in a different light vs. your newfound good coffee and experience at Nylon.
Nylon is my go-to cafe in Singapore and if one wants coffee in Singapore, I can wholeheartedly recommend Nylon. If you have time just for one coffee place in Singapore, Nylon is the place.