“This is the first time we are out of shopping malls and nestled in the heartlands, where we can continue our vision of bringing quality, affordable French food to everyone,“ says Daphane Loke, founder and executive chef of Saybons. “Saybons @ Aljunied gives us the creative space to develop an expanded menu and offering. It allows us to present French food in unique collaborations like the one we now have with Bettr Barista. Specialty coffee is a great pairing with our new weekend brunch and pastry options.”
This is the first café collaboration for Bettr Barista, a social enterprise that helps disadvantaged women and youth-at-risk through a holistic programme that includes professional barista training. Graduates from its programme are currently managing the café’s coffee bar on a full-time basis. Proceeds from coffee sales are channelled directly back to the Academy’s holistic training programme.
Pamela Chng, founder of Bettr Barista says: “The eastern side of Singapore is under-served when it comes to specialty coffee. We want to bring a great – and affordable – experience to the local community and continue coffee education beyond the specialty coffee crowd. This café collaboration with Saybons @ Aljunied is an excellent opportunity for us to do this. It allows each party to focus on our specialties, and present the consumer with an enhanced experience. The café also opens up opportunities for us to reach more potential students in the heartlands.”
Bettr Barista and Saybons first met at International Volunteers Day 2011, where they were both sponsors.
Saybons @ Aljunied serves weekend brunch, daily lunch and dinner, and introduces its first “Kitchenette Menu”, which includes new dishes such as Eggs Benedict, Croque Monsieur and roasted Rosemary Chicken with Herb Butter Rice. Chef Daphane has also included a daily range of special pastries from her kitchen, including her classic Quiche Lorraine, Apple Crumble tart, Creme Brulee and cakes to pair with the specialty coffee. The café also serves its usual range of crepes, soups and escargots, which are also available at Saybons’ Plaza Singapura and Bishan Junction 8 outlets.
Food and drinks are set at popular prices, with soups and appetisers starting from S$3.50, crepes from S$3 and mains from S$11.90. Specialty coffee starts at S$2.90 for an espresso. The café is open from 11am to 9pm from Tuesday to Friday and from 9am to 9pm on weekends.
The full Saybons @ Aljunied menu, as well as a selection of images can be downloaded from: http://j.mp/saybons-BB.
Bean Me Up, Coffee! Inaugural #BettrWeek Event Launches with Singapore's First Specialty Coffee Crawl
From 15-18 September 2012, Bettr Barista presents a week of coffee-themed workshops and events aimed at promoting greater social awareness
Singapore, 30 August 2012
- Year-old social enterprise, Bettr Barista Coffee Academy, is organising its first #BettrWeek event, which aims to encourage more people to take time off to discover and enjoy specialty coffee, engage their minds, indulge their senses and give a little bit back along the way. #BettrWeek kicks off on 15 September 2012 with Singapore’s first specialty coffee crawl that weekend, featuring signature drinks by partner cafés including 40 Hands, The Broers Café, Jimmy Monkey Café and Bar, Liberty Coffee and Smitten Coffee and Tea Bar.
For S$25, coffee crawl participants will be entitled to a free cup of the recommended brew at each of the partner cafés on 15 and 16 September. They will also receive a coffee crawl kit comprising a souvenir #BettrWeek button and a specialty coffee pocket guide created by Bettr Barista. The pocket guide includes interviews with #BettrWeek’s partner café owners, a handy coffee crawl map, and a comprehensive listing of Singapore’s specialty cafés. The coffee crawl is limited to 200 participants and registrations are now open at www.bettrweek.com.
Pamela Chng, 36, founder of Bettr Barista Coffee Academy says: “We hope to make #BettrWeek an annual event and would love for more like-minded partners to join us in our efforts to promote greater social consciousness and the whole idea of thinking, feeling, doing, living and being better. We’ve curated the week’s activities to provide more avenues for coffee lovers to exchange knowledge and learn from industry players. We also want to encourage this spirit of learning amongst baristas.”
The featured partner cafés in this year’s coffee crawl are also internship partners for the Academy’s 12-week holistic training programme for underprivileged women. Part of the proceeds from #BettrWeek activities will go towards funding the programme.
For 32-year-old Harry Grover, owner of 40 Hands, #BettrWeek is a step towards a more vibrant coffee scene in Singapore.
“There are more people who are interested in specialty coffee, and I’m glad to see that Bettr Barista is making efforts to hone this interest through coffee education. I think this will contribute to cultivating Singapore’s coffee culture and I’m excited to be a part of it,” he says.
As part of the #BettrWeek kickoff, the public is invited to an opening party at The Pigeonhole (52/53 Duxton Road, Singapore 089516) on the evening of 15 September from 8pm to 1am, where Bettr Barista will be introducing its first liqueur-based coffee creation, The Bold and The Brewtiful. Entertainment for the evening includes open iPod sessions and a Keep Cup mix-and-match station where the public can personalise and purchase their own reusable Keep Cups.
Bettr Barista Coffee Academy will also open its doors on 16 September from 10am to 6pm for coffee crawl participants to sample its signature Heart blend, brewed by baristas who have graduated from the Academy’s holistic training programme.
Other events for the public during #BettrWeek include a Green Living workshop and a Buy-A-Meal, Give-A-Meal dinner hosted by Food For Thought for beneficiaries, Beyond Social Services and the Mother and Child Project.
Industry-focused events include a technical workshop by Astoria, a milk workshop by Meiji and a latte art competition.
Events are priced from S$48 for the Green Living workshop to S$75 for the beneficiary dinner. The complete event list, prices and registration information can be found at www.bettrweek.com/events.
For updates, connect with the Bettr Barista crew at www.facebook.com/BettrBarista and http://twitter.com/BettrBarista (hashtag #BettrWeek).
10 July 2012
An Interview With Scott Lucey
Scott is an award-winning barista from Milwaukee, WI, USA who has been brewing for Alterra Coffee since 2001. He began volunteering with Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) in 2006 and since then, has conducted many workshops, judged and interned for the organization. In 2009, he was also crowned champion at the Great Lakes Regional Barista Competition.
Scott was guest trainer at Bettr Barista’s first SCAA course, which was held during the week of June 12, 2012. We sat him down for a chat.
Tell us a little about yourself and your personal coffee journey. What got you started and how did it escalate to you doing what you do now?
I began working at a café when I was 20. I was desperate to get out of my home and had no knowledge about coffee when I first started. My interest developed during my first week of barista training when I learned about coffee plantations. This struck a chord with my childhood, which I spent growing up on a farm in a small town.
My competitive nature and the drive to make the best cup of coffee - and to continually improve - have probably sustained me over the past 10 years. The thing that motivated me to stick around was when I learned how, in other major coffee cities, baristas were either traveling to compete or teach their skill, or they were moving on to open their own cafés. This was something I could envision myself doing, and it made me want to bring a more active coffee culture to my home city.
What is your favourite kind of coffee bean and why?
Personally, my favourite is a coffee from Colombia farmed by a man named Nelson Melo. My company’s had a relationship with Nelson and his family for nearly 6 years and this was my first experience of a direct relationship with a coffee planter. His family’s farm is strictly organic and erratic weather conditions and bugs have increasingly threatened their crops.
We even flew them into Milwaukee in 2009 for the premiere of a coffee episode of How Stuff Works and for the Barista Competition that I won with a Nelson Melo espresso based drink, Liquid Swords.
In the world of coffee that runs from farming to roasting and brewing, which is your favorite element?
Every part is crucial to the final product and they’re all necessary to be done perfectly. Personally, working in the café once a week is my favourite because I just need to make a good cup of coffee and it’s sort of a zen thing for me. If I had the opportunity to learn something new, I’d love that to be roasting.
Is this your first time in Singapore? What has struck you about the local coffee culture?
Yes, and it’s my first time in Asia as well. I knew it would be really different and exciting but I was simply not prepared for the changes. When I first landed and looked out the window, I had this really intense, awesome feeling in my gut. It’s one thing to see the other side of the world on TV but it’s different in person. You get to experience the smells, the sounds and the excitement of actually being there.
I did expect little pockets of coffee enthusiasts to exist but I did not expect a very bustling coffee culture. What's exciting to me is to see this group of Bettr Baristas learn more and become more involved. Not only doing more things for themselves but inspiring others as well. A community grows with active people, and I see a lot of possibilities for this part of the world.
How did the first SCAA classes in Singapore go and how did they differ from the ones you held back in the US?
The classes we held went very well! What struck me as being most different was that, even though most people were beginners, they had a high level of understanding and great patience. They listened to instructions, understood them and did them. Typically, when a student focuses on one thing, they tend to forget about all the other things but the students here were quick to respond and were able to absorb the complex instructions. The classes went really smoothly and it was almost as if people had done it before.
People in Singapore also have an eye for service and always seem able to anticipate one’s next move. This is very rare in the US where work ethic does exist, but is maybe not as consistent.
The biggest surprise was realizing that I had to conduct the classes alone because, in the US, there is usually a lead instructor and one instructor for every 5-6 students. There is a lot of work involved in each class and I could not have done it without the Bettr Barista team.
Café owner…professional barista…why get SCAA-certified?
I will use the Barista Guild as an example. I first became a member because it was cool on the Internet and, while it did not guarantee success, I hung in there. Participating in the Guild was a way of holding the door open for the people behind me. Being a member of a social organization has allowed me to share my skills with other people and I think everyone else who is a member should have the same motivation.
I helped create the certification programme and today, levels 1, 2 and 3 exist. We have over 500 people certified and people like the fact that “you need to have credentials in order to be knowledgeable”.
I’d hope that these certifications make them think about what they know and the standards required for a good cuppa.
What motivated you to come to Bettr Barista besides the opportunity to travel to Asia?
I felt that I would enjoy the challenge of organizing, planning and executing the classes as I have never led such classes on my own.
Given that Bettr Barista is SCAA’s only licensed international education partner in Singapore, what do you think of the Academy’s set up, programs and crew so far?
Before coming to Singapore, I was told that the level of self-motivation in the people here was immensely high and everyone told me that I would be impressed. And I really am. I want to bring all of you back with me.
I have never heard of a coffee-focused business that goes the extra step to make sure a barista has a healthy lifestyle. I think it's very admirable that Bettr Barista does what they can to care for their students.
What do you personally like to see from Singapore and Bettr Barista in time to come?
I want to see all of these guys again participating in more things in future, even those who are not coffee enthusiasts. I hope to be back and for coffee culture in Singapore to expand and develop.
What is your biggest takeaway from this trip?
My biggest takeaway from this trip has to be the skill levels and attentiveness of each and every one of the participants. In our first year of practical tests, many baristas failed as they were unable to understand instructions despite it being printed in bold. This was not a problem in Singapore and that was nice.
What is one piece of advice you will give to an aspiring café owner and/or barista?
Just make sure you love what you are doing, so much that you want to do the best that you possibly can. From seed to cup, there are many people involved in the creation of a great cup of coffee. A barista committing their life to making and serving this perfection needs to be quality driven and happy to serve.
Brewing Cuppas with Conscience
Bettr Barista is Singapore’s first
social enterprise to help disadvantaged women via a three-prong holistic programme that combines
world-class barista training with emotional and physical skills training.
30 January 2012 – 35-year-old
Pamela Chng has set out to empower disadvantaged women in Singapore – using the
humble coffee bean and the growing specialty coffee industry as her starting
points. She is the founder of Bettr Barista Coffee Academy, a social enterprise
that has a triple bottom line of People, Planet and Profit. Central to Bettr
Barista’s mission is a 12-week programme that adopts a whole-person approach
towards improving the lives of disadvantaged women, by combining professional
barista training, life and emotional management training and multi-dimension
physical training. The Academy aims to train up to ten women in each of the
four semesters that it runs annually, and its first semester for the year kicks
“Bettr Barista is not just another
specialty coffee kid on the block and, as far as I know, we’re the first and
only folks to apply a holistic approach that addresses all aspects of being a
more successful, productive person. Incorporating emotional and physical skills
training in our programme is a proactive strategy that uses rational effective
methodologies and tools to build up resilience, self confidence and other
social skills that are the ‘heartware’ to the hardware of world-class barista
skills,” says Ms Chng.
The coffee-loving entrepreneur, who
is also a US- and Australia-trained barista and roaster herself, is passionate about social businesses
being the best avenue for bringing about social change. She spent the last eight years building
up a successful web consultancy before founding Bettr Barista in November 2011.
She adds: “I firmly believe that
when you empower women in this all-rounded way, they have a tremendous capacity
to change the lives of people around them in turn. The women we’re reaching out
to have more intricate needs than your average person and it is not enough to
just teach them a job skill. In addition to helping them find permanent
employment within our group and with our
partners in the specialty coffee industry, we want to equip them with the emotional
resilience and confidence to progress in their work and continually better
During the first four weeks of Bettr
Barista’s programme, its students undergo intensive barista training conducted
in part by David Seng, one of Melbourne’s leading professional barista trainers
and an accredited Australian Barista Championship judge. The remaining eight
weeks are devoted to a paid internship with specialty café partners including Forty Hands, Smitten Coffee &
Tea and Jimmy Monkey Café. Underscoring the entire 12 weeks are an
emotional empowerment component managed by Saima Salman, a New York-trained
emotional coach and clinical fellow at the renowned Albert Ellis Institute, as
well as a physical component comprising KAPAP self-defence, yoga and outrigger
canoeing with the Singapore Paddle Club.
Euan Beer, president of the
Singapore Paddle Club says: “We’re more than happy to help the Academy by
waiving rookie session fees for its students in the programme. Having these
women join our regular members is an important part of their training as it
will expose them to teamwork, discipline and endurance in a fun environment.”
Owner of Smitten Coffee & Tea
Bar, Darren Chang, adds: “Singapore’s specialty coffee industry is growing and
there is always demand for professional local baristas who are well-trained and
motivated. And that is a gap that Bettr Barista Coffee Academy’s comprehensive
training will fill, whilst also fulfilling a very meaningful mission of
providing employment for underprivileged women. It is a win-win situation for
all stakeholders, and we give our full support to the programme.”
The Academy is also teaming up with volunteers to incorporate
practical workshops on topics such as job interviewing and computer and financial
literacy training. To
maintain involvement and engagement, programme graduates will also be invited to return as
alumni as part of an ongoing mentoring initiative for new students.
The Academy currently works with social service organisations such as
Beyond Social Services, various family service centres and community
development councils to
identify and reach out to potential students for
its programme. These students might include single mothers, women from
low-income families or youth at risk.
The programme, which targets women
aged 17 to 50, costs $3,500 per student to run but is subsidised for qualified
individuals who are assessed via an application process that includes two
rounds of rigorous interviews to ascertain their emotional readiness and
motivation. These students pay only $300 of the total fee, which can come out
of their internship stipend. The Academy is supported in part by the Ministry
of Community Development, Youth and Sports’ (MCYS) Comcare Enterprise Fund.
All additional funding is undertaken
by the Academy, which conducts regular coffee appreciation and professional
barista training classes for the public at its 1,000-square-foot multi-function
space at Burn Road. The Academy also provides customisable coffee sessions for
corporates, an interactive brew bar experience for events, and sells coffee
accessories and top-grade Arabica beans that it roasts fresh on-site to support
its programme. In February this year, Bettr Barista will launch a specialty
coffee subscription service, where members of the public can sign up to have a
different variety of freshly roasted beans delivered to their doorsteps once
every two weeks.
Ms Chng says: “These women are our
reason for being and we’re fully committed to helping them. Everyone we talk to
responds very positively to what we’re doing but our student numbers are still
not as high as they can be. We therefore need the support of more social
service organisations to help identify and put forward potential students, as
well as corporate sponsorships to keep the programme running.”
For more information on Bettr
Barista Coffee Academy, please visit www.bettrbarista.com, or connect via www.facebook.com/BettrBarista and http://twitter.com/BettrBarista.
Images can be downloaded from http://bit.ly/bettr-images.
# # #
Pamela Chng / Tania Chew