Creating a community of drinkers

Posted by Dave Lim on

Nestled within Serangoon Gardens, we hope to build a community of drinkers within our estate, where fellow "gardeners" regularly pop by for a good tea, coffee, sake, whisky or wine, while learning some knowledge or brewing skills.  In our vision, this is a community which appreciates good drinks, gathers to discuss new finds and learn and grow together as a community.  This is the reason why we set the price low, so as to encourage more "gardeners" to join in, and as the community grow, we expand our reach to allow Singaporeans and everyone else to buy coffee beans from Singapore.
 
Let's talk about what is close to our hearts - coffee and tea.  Our signature "Farm Stories" series of appreciation courses for coffee and tea bring focus to the historical value of coffee and tea through stories, while you learn to brew these drinks.  We hope our little and continuous effort can change the public's impression that coffee must be bitter, dark and oily, and sweetened with syrups before it can be drunk, or that tea must be milky, cheesy, loaded with sugars and decorated with pearls.  Would you do that to a good wine or whisky?  In fact, coffee and tea has more flavour compounds as compared to wine, and thus they have more potential to be great tasting. Should we not drink them "neat", just like a good whisky? 

 

 

Of course, the value of a good wine, sake or whisky is contingent on the skills and experience of the brewery or refinery.  More often than not, they enjoy historical reputation, which brings prestige and its accompanying value (price).  The sommelier or bartender receives the final product in a bottle, and does not "process" it further that could greatly vary its final taste.  The case is different for coffee and tea, as much of the final taste depends on a group of craftsmen downstream from the farm/processing plant, namely roasters (for coffee) and brewers (for both coffee and tea), adopting different styles that could greatly change the final taste based on the degree of roast and brew.  Maybe because the success of the final drink hangs on often unnamed and obscure craftsmen down the line, even if the farm or processing plant are famous, such prestige will inevitably be shared or is diluted by these unknown but talented craftsmen.  Or maybe the famous wineries, breweries and refineries are from historically rich countries which are also colonial masters in the last few centuries, such that the value of their products inflates over time.  Or maybe because coffee and tea products experience varying tastes year on year, and under the hands of different craftsmen, such that they are impossible to be standardised in quality.  No matter what, the final craftsmen have the final say on the quality of the coffee and tea, and there is no way to tell the quality until the craftsmen roast or brew them, whether correctly or incorrectly.  How then does one value a product when there is so many variables?  How then does one know what the "correct" taste is?
 
The varied possibilities for coffee and tea can be viewed as their strength instead of an inherent and inevitable weakness.  Conversely, it is an opportunity for community learning at every part of the process chain, and allows much room for ground exploration, creativity and innovation.  Obviously a drawback for coffee and tea would be its inconvenience, as its ultimate enjoyment depends on a trained skill, which not everyone who enjoys the drinks are equally keen to know how to create it.  It is on such grounds that we hope to build a community, one which learns on a fun, stress-free and patient pace, the beautiful art of creating a drink, and which can be practiced at home on a daily routine.  Ultimately, we aim to reverse the view that teas and coffees cannot stand on their own, unless blended or sweetened.  

 

This year, we decided that there is a severe limitation to how much we can share over the counter, at each table or with our every customer, in our sister companies, Sun Ray Cafe and Parchmen & Co, which we have been running for six years and one year respectively.  To effect social change, we need a proper platform, thus the birth of Parchmen Academy.  Towards the end of 2017, let's set the ball rolling and we hope to see "gardeners" coming often to our sharing sessions.  Bring your "non-gardener" friends as well.  We hope more people learn coffee and tea the proper way, and give more recognition to the hard work and talents of the farmers we choose to represent in our product list.