Blink and you’ll miss it: but this micro cafe on Amoy Street is one worth hunting down
Believe us when we say there’s a lot of coffee fuelling us here at Honeycombers, so when a new hopper turns up near our HQ, we like to get neighbourly. Upside Down Coffee Alternatives quietly sprung to life on Amoy St not so long ago – in an office lobby of all places – but we say it’s part of the dining strip’s evolution into one hot property. It’s almost a blink and you’ll miss it spot (the bright orange stools on the sidewalk are a clue), but that’s just how ebullient owner/barista Rashyd Haniff likes it – Upside Down is all about stepping away from the stampede and finding something special. And before you ask, yes, he’s a Stranger Things fan.
With 10 years under his belt in Singapore’s coffee scene, Rashyd broke out on his own to “understand the things that people don’t usually see from the front of the bar”. He’s also a roaster, so if you’re a French Press type, you’ll appreciate that his beans (single origin and blends) are seriously legit. But he’s no coffee snob: Upside Down is all about making specialty coffee accessible to everyone. “Yes, we still serve our lattes, long blacks and drip,” says Rashyd, “But we want to look beyond that usual menu and see what we can offer.” This is where the ‘coffee alternatives’ come in: his Cold Drip & Tonic plays on gin vibes with botanicals like juniper berries, coriander seeds and citrus. A violet-hued hibiscus and lychee tea is another number that calls us on sunny days.
Okay, okay, so you’re a purist. Here’s all you need to know: the espresso here is as bright and delicate as it comes, but delivers the intensity that drives your love affair with coffee in the first place. Drop in for a chat, pick up a slice of banana bread (made according to his mum’s recipe), and slip in a donut or bombolini by Doughnut Shack with your order while you’re at it. We’re talking flavours that go from crème brulee to chilli crab. Hell yes you need one for an afternoon perk. Or take that 3pm slump as your cue to come back in for another one of those damn good coffees.
We had a little chat with our friendly neighbourhood barista:
Spill it: what’s the story behind the cafe’s name?
“The name is inspired by Stranger Things, and that alternate reality behind the walls: The Upside Down. This is what we are directed towards, in our coffee-centric manner – an alternate dimension, within the bustling and busy CBD where people can just pause from thinking about work and enjoy the simple things: coffee, home-baked goods and a chat with people around.
The brand and name also keeps the team grounded as it will continuously remind us to look at things in different perspectives. Things always look different upside down, and sometimes the skewed view will give you the answer you’re looking for. It’s important to keep an open mind!”
Tell us more about your ‘coffee alternatives’ – what are you doing differently?
“There’s just so much room for coffee to be mixed and experimented with different flavours and ingredients, which is why we commit to having a menu of seasonal beverages (one coffee-based and the other non-coffee). Anyone can pick up coffee making and become baristas, but the question is how much (more) we can do with the humble product?”
What’s unique about your roast?
“Though we’re pretty young as a company, we have been really focused on profiling our roasts prior to the launch of our coffee bar: the roast really determines how the extraction will be, and what and how much flavours are present in the cup. We look forward to pushing ourselves and serving different origins and blends: we’re looking at changing them every six weeks.
We always experiment with different styles and profiles to cater to each individual coffee origin. Every coffee needs to be caramelised at different levels to taste great, and it is our job to find out the sweet spot for each coffee; the balance of body, flavour, sweetness and acidity.”
Upside Down is at 15 Amoy Street, Lobby, Singapore S069935
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