The trend of café hopping is not abating in Singapore and in fact, more youths are developing an interest in food, clean eating, and the art of coffee making. For the latter, some serious ones go as far to turn it into their careers.


But unassuming youths should think twice before jumping on the coffee-making bandwagon as the art of making coffee is a serious business. This photo essay traces the steps to make that piping hot and energizing cuppa and the road less travelled for these young baristas.



For most baristas, their coffee-making process begins from grinding the coffee beans. The amount of coffee grinds varies, depending on the number of shots in a cup of coffee.


“We measure every dosage before we dose the grind into the portafilter. We will manually scoop out 1 gram of coffee grinds if it exceeds.” said Jared Chan, 26, co-owner of retro-inspired café, The Coffee Daily. Jared doesn’t regret not working in a bank since completing his studies in banking and finance as he feels what he has learnt in his studies is still beneficial to running the current coffee business.



“Contrary to belief, the weight of your espresso is more important than the volume, because 1g of espresso does not equate to 1ml. The smallest difference in weight can lead to a huge change of taste in the shot,” explains Tim Chew, 24, a full-time barista at La Ristrettos.

Tim was a psychology student at Edith Cowan University who gave up his studies to pursue a career as a barista because of his passion for coffee making. His interest in coffee started after his first taste of specialty coffee, which was a pleasant surprise to him because of its depth and sweet flavors, even without sugar. Tim decided to be a barista after working for 4 months at 4.3, a student-run café in Singapore Management University (SMU).



“After dosing, we tamp down on the ground coffee with a tamper. This is to compact the grinds in the portafilter.  It’s important for us to tamp down evenly so the machine can evenly extract the coffee. Otherwise, whatever comes out is more brown water than coffee, which can be very unpleasant,” Tim shared.


Here, the portafilter is attached to the coffee machine to extract the shot.



“Simultaneously, milk is frothed in a pitcher until it’s hot and the foam from the frothing must be of a certain density for the drink.” explains Douglas Tan, 22, owner of Tolido’s Espresso Nook.

Similar to Tim, Douglas chose passion for coffee over studies. His interest in coffee started after reading an article about latte art, which got him intrigued how baristas could pour art on a cup of coffee. Douglas joked with his mother who ran a canteen at the Singapore Science Centre that he would one day be a good barista to convert their canteen into a café.


After graduating from St. Andrews Junior College and halting his post-tertiary studies, Douglas went on to make his dream a reality. Today, he runs a café named Tolido’s, inspired by the first 2 letters of his parents’ names and his own – Tony, Linda and Douglas.



After extracting the espresso shot and steaming the milk is the pouring of the milk. This is where a barista’s skill comes into play, because the texture of the milk plays a huge part in making the latte art.


Though the skill of pouring a perfect tulip or rosetta takes months or even years of practice, the effort and passion put into each pour is evident.



“Just imagine how much of a difference you could make to so many people who walk into your cafe who need that good cup of coffee to start their day, and even just the service alone to give them that grateful smile on their face is worth it,” says Douglas enthusiastically.


Driven by their passion for coffee, it is apparent that baristas these days start their careers at a younger age. No doubt these zealous youths will continue to inspire more youths to develop an interest in this aromatic affair with coffee.


Photos were taken with a Nikon D90.