According to The Straits Times, by the end of 2021 the Singapore Coffee Association (SCA) and Asean Coffee Federation (ACF) will be teaming up to open an Asean Coffee Institute. This institute is intended to be a hub for upskilling and expansion of the regional coffee industry, and is a part of SCA’s efforts to turn Singapore into a trading hub for specialty coffee in the region.
Yup, you read that right.
A specialty coffee hub. In 2021. While we’re still amidst a time-period-that-shall-not-be-named. (Starts with a ‘p’, by the way.)
But why? How come?
If you grab a mug of coffee, sit down, and think about it, this actually comes as no wonder.
Let’s face it, during lockdown in 2020 there really was nothing better to do. Loads of people started trying out new hobbies.
Sourdough bread and house plants, anyone?
For a lot of people, this new hobby came in the form of brewing coffee at home. (100% Generation-approved. Hey, anything to spread the appreciation of coffee knowledge, right.)
Why go out when you have a new hobby at home
More and more people saw the appeal of home brewing and got attracted to specialty coffee at the same time. Whether it was a growing interest in brewing methods, or tasting notes, or simply just where our coffee comes from.
And this may have been you too!
You’re definitely not alone on this journey if you gradually find yourself becoming curious about the cup of delicious coffee you’ve come to love as your daily go-to.
I myself have become increasingly earnest in my goal to build my own espresso station at home. After years of being a barista, I’ve got itchy fingers and want to play around with coffee again.
Also, in a strange way, I miss the heat of a pitcher filled with perfectly frothed milk. Don’t judge!
But mostly, I miss the elevating feeling of tasting a latte every single morning.
So, if you also craved your usual cup of coffee from your favourite cafe during the lockdown, know that I fully validate that feeling.
Hence, the increasingly apparent interest in home coffee brewing. And I’m pretty sure it’s not just me and you.
Friendly note: Hey, since you’re here reading this, if you have a friend who’s interested in coffee like you, do share the Generation blog with them! We’re always eager to share the joy of coffee tasting and appreciation, and we’ll be delighted if you help to spread the word.
A Change of “Scenery”
In the past 18 months, if you’ve ever been annoyed by the attention-grabbing sounds of your neighbour renovating their beautiful house, you’re not alo---
(Sounds from the electric drill working next door dies down.)
As I was saying, you are not alone.
But I totally get it, even though the noise had me pulling at the hairs on my head at times. Instead of going on an annual vacation, channeling the money into a renovation to spruce up your home seems like a great alternative use of funds.
Also, I guess that counts as a change of scenery too.
This “scenery” probably extends to the kitchen as well. Or wherever you choose to set up your coffee station.
And it doesn’t have to be a bulky espresso machine. It could be a simple corner in the kitchen where you store and set up your coffee appliances, however you choose to brew it.
Plus, with this re-channeling of spending power, you may also choose to either go wide by exploring more brewing methods (which usually means more equipment and apparatus needed), or go deep (or rather, go higher) by purchasing more atas coffee and equipment.
Either way, it will surely be a fun experience for coffee enthusiasts, both new and seasoned.
Humans are such creatures of habit
Seriously, aren’t we though? We cling to our comfort zones as closely as a chick clinging to the feathers behind a mother hen’s wings.
I can only imagine how I would have felt if I worked in the CBD area last year and was suddenly told I can no longer go to the office.
The following would be a very accurate depiction of me:
B-but… I live for the coffee from the cafe opposite my office… It’s the only reason I drag myself out of bed everyday! What am I gonna do now after lunch?? *cries in exasperation
Needless to say, I can fully empathise with anyone who suddenly felt cut off from their daily coffee supply.
Oh, in the good old days, it used to be so easy. Just place your order - sometimes you don’t even need to do it, the barista remembers - swipe your card, and voila! You walk away with your daily sustenance.
During WFH that’s no longer the case. And forgive me if I say the truth, that we can only tolerate 3in1 coffee for just that long before we snap.
Slowly, but surely, a feeling creeps in. It’s one of curiosity, or experimentation. Thoughts like “hey, I wonder if I can do this myself” or “what if I make my own coffee myself..?” start to occupy your mind and nudge you everyday.
The rise of the home brewer
According to Victor Mah, President of the SCA and the ACF, the pandemic has had an impact on the trend of coffee exploration and appreciation. This is following a notable growth in specialty coffee, especially in the last three years. Further contributing to this is Singapore’s ideal position as a link (both geographically and economically) between major coffee producing and coffee consuming markets.
In comes a new breed of coffee enthusiast - the home brewer. Regular people, like you and me, who love coffee, and love brewing it at home.
These are the people who are starting to, or already appreciate the multi-layered nuances in coffee-drinking.
These are the people who are excited to try out a new origin of coffee beans.
These are the people who happily accompany you on a weekend patronising multiple cafes, tasting almost every coffee drink in every single spot you visit, and then go home and try to replicate their favourite beverages themselves.
These are the people who are willing to splurge on anything coffee-related, from beans to products to merchandise, without blinking an eye.
These are the people who take 30 seconds to meticulously taste the first sip of coffee, another 30 minutes to enthusiastically express the various tasting notes discovered, and yet another 30 years in the comfort of their own homes exploring the boundless and wonderful world of coffee knowledge.
These are the home brewers. And once again, you are not alone.
We are part of a movement
Whether you brew your coffee at home via pour over method, or if you use a stovetop moka pot, maybe you own an espresso machine at home. Whatever it is, you are part of a movement.
Unless you own a La Marzocco Linea Mini, then go away I am so jealous of you. You’re still part of the movement though, it’s just I won’t say hi to you, unless you let me occasionally use your machine. Then I’ll whisper a hello.
We are all part of a global movement that’s larger than ourselves.
All around the world, the coffee industry continues to charge forward like a freight train, and it’s not stopping any time soon. And this circle you’re part of, this circle of home brewers, it’s only gonna get bigger.
Even in Singapore alone, the coffee industry saw a revenue of USD 1,698 million (so far) in 2021 alone. That’s a 27.6% increase from the year before. (Stats from Statista.com) And we all know what happened in 2020!
So there you have it, my fellow home brewer.
No matter when you stumbled into the wonder that is home coffee brewing, be it 10 years ago or 10 months ago, or even just 10 minutes ago when you clicked on this blog post. Know that our collective journey is only starting, there is so much for us to appreciate, so much more to explore.
And don’t ever let anyone tell you it’s just a phase.