Seattle, USA – Starbucks Reserve Roastery, 30 December 2014

Hours: 7 am – 11 pm

Power: Some along the wall

Conducive for work?: Not as of right now – it’s quite a tourist attraction

Price: Higher than your regular Starbucks (a tall latte will set you back by ~$4)

Wifi: Awesome

Contact: 1124 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101, United States, (206) 624 0173

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery opened up on Pike (some nine blocks from the original Starbucks) to great fanfare in early December. Lines of tourists, and other curious caffeine addicts snaked around the block for most of the day. As a nocturnal, thankfully, the line was manageable in the late evening (after 8.30 pm). In more recent times, the madness has died down, and it’s possible to get in without standing in line.

The Roastery is massive. Small-batch beans of diverse origins are roasted on the premises, alike some of its competitors a couple of steps away. A slight difference is that you can observe the machines at work, and talk to some of the staff working at the roasters, or enjoy watching the conveyor belt of beans being sent for packing. During the day, there are also coffee demonstration. They advertise the roastery as an interactive coffee experience.

Aside from learning how the coffee gets to your cup, one of the key attractions of the Roastery is the variety of coffee available. They have a rotation of about four different types of coffee (including their pantheon blend, which is unique to the Roastery), which you can choose from for your espresso drinks, or you can choose to sample these coffees using different brewing methods (e.g. clover, pour over, press, et. al). I’d highly recommend taking another coffee aficionado for your first visit, so you may sample the coffee flight (three different types of coffees, or one type of coffee with three brewing methods, ~$18)

Does it taste better? Yes. The Roastery does offer an excellent description of the character of their seasonal coffees, and their coffees have some interesting flavor profiles. I tried the Colombian blend in the form of a latte, the Pantheon as a pour over, latte, and espresso soda (~$4 each for a tall).

Currently, it’s not a bad place to read a book for a little while, but as of right now, it’s probably not your cosy cafe, where you’ll set up camp, and work for a couple of hours. There’s a lot of traffic, and if you are at one of the window seats by the counter, be prepared to be in a lot of tourists/curious onlookers’ photos.

Roasting equipment at Starbucks Reserve Roastery

Starbucks Reserve Roastery


Baristas in the middle of the Roastery


Pantheon Blend LatteIMG_0152

Pantheon Blend Espresso Soda



Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe, 13 September 2014

Address: 425 15th Ave E, Seattle WA 98112; (206) 322-1058

Hours: 8 am – 10 pm

Wifi: Available for one device with purchase [update] for 1 hr from 9 am – 3 pm on weekends, and 3 hrs at other times

Power Outlets: Highly manageable

Ada's Technical books and cafe

It’s the summer holidays, and I have the month off work, so time to go out of my usual route, and check out some of the cafes around Seattle. Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe is in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, and sandwiched between Cafe Ladro and Victrola on 15th. It’s slightly pricey if you’re just there for coffee, but it’s a really cool space to work at, and it’s a treat for the bibliophile (particularly those with a penchant for technical books).

Ada's Technical books and cafe

Things I Love: The cafe space (which is set in a book store) can host about 20 – 25 patrons. Every table is unique, and is a mini diorama of various topics, for instance, compasses, or how to pick locks. Sitting at a different table each visit can be a fun activity. They also have interesting events, for instance, book clubs, and talks on a variety of academic topics. Despite the relatively tight space, I have never had any issues with finding a spot. They are a full-service establishment, so in addition to caffeine, they also serve wines and beers. Their food menu is fairly extensive. The friendly baristas serve Kuma coffee. My only complaint is that it’s slightly pricier than your regular latte (12 oz goes for ~$3.75).

Cool tables at Ada's Technical books and cafe

Victrola Coffee Roasters

 Victrola Coffee Roasters

310 East Pike Street


Hours: Weekdays – 6.30 – 8; Weekends – 7.30 – 8

Wifi: Yes, and very good. No password required

Price: Slightly higher than average, but it’s worth the price

Power outlets: some, not super

Located in Capitol Hill near downtown, it has always been highly rated, for their unique coffees, and roasting on premise. I finally got my butt over here today. Recently, I switched to drip coffees (vs my usual order of latte), so I got a French press. It definitely tasted unique, as opposed to the generic brew you get elsewhere. Their bean from the day is from Ethiopia, and has a caramel note.

I really like their premises. They probably have seats for about 30 (if everyone squeezes). They have high ceilings, an exposed brick wall with art for sale, and located within the premises is their roastery. They also have amazing windows where you can watch the buzz of capitol hill, and get glimpses of the sunset reflecting on the buildings in downtown. It’s a short walk from the Convention Center in downtown.

Singapore – Ciel Patisserie, 10 November 2012

A little cake place recently opened near my place. It looks really pretty on the outside, and I have a weakness for chocolate pastries, so it’s only inevitable that I succumb to its allure. So, tonight was the night.

Meet Ciel Patisserie, located under a HDB block, in the Hougang area, nestled in Lorong Ah Soo. The pastries range from $2.00 for a bag of madeleines, to $5.80 for an opera cake for individual portions. They also do full-sized tarts and cakes that range from $22 to $47. Well, I wasn’t that crazy greedy, and just took away a chocolate hazelnut tart ($4.20). The chocolate was amazing. It doesn’t have that cheap sugar taste, and the chocolate has a rich taste, and very smooth texture. I highly recommend it. I have not tried their espresso drinks, but I suspect a latte ($3.90) would go very well with these sweets.

They are pretty small, and probably could seat about 10 people (inside and outside). They also offer various deals on weekdays, particularly at tea time. Do check out their website and Facebook Page for more details.

The details:

  • Hours: Tues – Thurs (11 00 – 20 00); Sat (11 00 – 21 00); Sun (15 00 – 21 00)
  • Address: Blk 124 Hougang Ave 1, #01-1444

Chocolate hazelnut tart @ Ciel


Chocolate Hazelnut Tart @ Ciel

Singapore – The Coffee Daily, 08 November 2012

One night, I saw The Coffee Daily while driving home from Serangoon Gardens. It looked so cute from the outside, that I decided I wanted to return one of these days to try out their coffee. Wise choice.

The Coffee Daily @ Brighton Crescent

Exterior of The Coffee Daily

Located at 75 Brighton Crescent (Serangoon Gardens), there is only one downside of The Coffee Daily – parking. It was horrendous.

Otherwise, this is an amazing place. The interior is really cute, and matches the clean, white exterior. They have both indoor and outdoor sitting. Aside from regular tables (which are good for working), they also have a nook, which features a sofa and a rocking chair. Overall, the place looks really old school, complete with all those old school biscuit tins.

Next, food and drinks. I only had a latte ($3.90). I was very happy with the price, and it came with a very tasty biscotti. In addition, they also gave me a little platter of those biscuits with coloured sugar on top. The latte was good as well. They also have a decent selection of cakes, ice cream, and I believe they do serve sandwiches as well. It’s really hard not to love the place.

Other stuff:

  1. Power plugs: about four power plugs, all along the main wall, closer to the counter.
  2. Hours: Mon-Thu (11 00 – 22 30); Fri/Sat/eve of PH (09 30 – 23 30); Sun (09 30 – 22 30)
  3. Wifi: not sure
  4. Service: Excellent

Latte @ The Coffee Daily

Latte @ The Coffee Daily

Coffee Daily @ Brighton Crescent


Seating @ The Coffee Daily

Cafe: Pies and Coffee, Singapore, 08 October 2012

I’ve been on the hunt for non-Starbucks cafes in Singapore for me to work at, and stumbled onto Pies and Coffee, located at the newly-developed Rochester area, which is beside Buona Vista MRT. It’s open from 09 00 to 23 00, and has both air-con and open-air areas. The open-air area is actually pretty nice, and has a waterfall thingy in the complex. They serve both savoury and sweet pies. I only had a sweet pie, but the savoury pies do look pretty good. Maybe I’ll return to try it the next time! Sweet ones go for about SGD 7 and the savoury ones go for SGD 10. Espresso drinks go for about SGD 5, and are pretty good. It’s also a fairly quiet and nice place, so if you want do some work, or just have conversation, it’s a pretty good option.

Wifi: They have a secured wifi, but I’m not sure if it’s available to paying guests. I’m pretty happy with not knowing.

Pies and Coffee @ Rochester

Pies and Coffee

Oreo Cheesecake and Latte