Hi there, you may know me as the person who writes the blog posts on the Generation blog, most notably The Story of Generation - a series of 5 blog posts uncovering the story of Generation Coffee.
If you visited the Generation Coffee stall at Tekka Centre in the past few weeks and encountered a new face standing at the counter taking your orders…
Hey, that’s me too!
Here’s my personal account of going from behind the laptop screen, to serving you Generation Coffee at the storefront.
To be clear, I have a background in specialty coffee. Years ago I used to work at a cafe. Multiple actually, during different periods of my life. But never at a coffee shop, serving both traditional and specialty coffee.
So I sure know how it’s like working in F&B. The hustle and bustle and high emotions and yes, also the “taboo phrase” *winkwink*
And I know coffee, kinda. Fun story, I may have mentioned this before, but when I started out I didn’t know the difference between a latte and cappuccino and americano etc.
What a noob!
Don’t worry, at the time of writing this post, I am extremely clear of the difference between a latte and a cappuccino, which one I prefer, and how to prepare a delicious cup of both.
Trust me, I’m an adept barista.
However, as always, there’s bound to be a learning curve.
Excuse me… I’m not so arrogant as to say that it will confirm be smooth sailing wherever I work, you know?
Having already written for Generation Coffee, I was already familiar with the menu coming into the physical stall. But if you’ve ever worked in an F&B establishment before, you’ll understand that knowing a menu is entirely different from taking actual customer orders.
Not forgetting the different workflow, specific beverage recipes, and recognising the regulars all on top of that.
Ah, the regulars!
They are indeed a lovely bunch. Honestly.
It’s obvious that they love their usual dose of daily Generation. And that’s not only apparent by their unfailing appearance at the stall everyday (sometimes even multiple times in a day!).
It’s also clear in their interactions with us at the stall. The way they rave about Generation Coffee and recommending us to their friends and family.
It’s all truly a heartwarming experience.
So far I’ve not only enjoyed the interaction with the customers, but also the snippets of conversations with the surrounding stall owners.
On one of my first few days after closing up, I observed the aunty running the stall next door was still preparing meatballs on one of the tables. What caught my attention was how quickly her hands were moving around, preparing tray upon tray of perfectly-shaped meatballs, along with other dishes as well.
I interrupted her diligent work to bid her a goodbye. I promise I wasn’t being rude. I slipped in an earnest comment on how incredible the food looked.
She smiled up at me (at least, I hope she was smiling. It’s hard to tell sometimes, with masks on and everything) and replied in Mandarin, “Wah, Aunty has been making these for more than 30 years already you know?”
It’s things like these that move my heart.
In this world of constant change and “go go go” mentality, most people (especially you youngsters) tend to forget the sturdy foundations which this land has been built on. The traditions, the customs, the countless family businesses being the results of years and even generations of hard work and sweat.
I myself am guilty of that sometimes.
One day during lunch, I watched a magpie pecking at the crevices of the floor in the hawker centre. I found it so fascinating. If a wild bird can find something of value in the darkest of scorned corners, imagine the beauty we can find in the places we choose to overlook.
But hey, this post is less about my whimsical thoughts and more about my experience at the Generation stall. So let’s get back to that, shall we?
Speaking of the impermanence of the modern world, I’m glad that Generation Coffee is here to celebrate the groundedness of our forefathers, by bridging the gap between traditional and specialty coffee.
Coming from a cafe background, it was so refreshing to work in a coffee shop for a change.
Instead of the “atas” kind of lobby music, you get the occasional bird squawking and constant buzz of everyone busying about their everyday lives.
Instead of the awesome aircond to cool off the sweltering heat of the Singapore sun, you get the additional heat from the pots and pans everywhere and the less-than-ideal ventilation. Even on rainy days the humidity still gets to you.
Yet, there’s just no comparison.
Yes, there may not be fancy pour over equipment meticulously arranged along walls as tasteful decor, but the familiar sight of an espresso machine paired with cans of evaporated milk and condensed milk work strangely well together.
There may not be the feeling of “atas”-ness often associated with specialty coffee, but there’s the congenial ambience that always reminds me of community and togetherness.
There may not be flocks of coffee connoisseurs and *coughcough* hipster cafe hoppers, but I’d take the heartwarming sight of the regular uncle with his newspaper and Kopi O Kosong any day, or the office-goer with his daily Kopi Peng and that gleeful look of “Yes, lunch time means coffee time!”
Besides, where else can you get the most amazing mug of latte and hands down the BEST (in my opinion) Kopi C Kosong Peng in Singapore, all from the same shop!
Yup, you can’t. Or at least, I believe I can’t.
So I think you don’t need me to elaborate any further to get how I feel about my time at Generation Coffee.
I. LOVE. IT.
I enjoy it so much that, if time and the Generation team permit, you’ll see me helping out at the stall every other week.
So you better get used to this face. Or writing. Maybe both.
Thank you, Generation Coffee.
With all my heart,
Mich (a barista, a writer, your lifelong fan)
Message from the Generation team:
We’re currently hiring! If you love coffee, love to learn how to make great coffee and are aligned with our Generation mission, do drop us a DM on Instagram! Or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org ☕️
If you know someone who’s perfect for the job, we appreciate it if you pass along the message too. Thanks in advance!