Coffee Appreciation Workshop by Toast Box


I am a coffee junkie, but that doesnt make me a specialist.  The appreciation of coffee is an entire study on its own, something I have yet to get a full grasp of. 

Photo credit: BreadTalk

When it comes to Nanyang Coffee, I have a special preference for Toast Box coffee. Somehow, over the years of drinking Nanyang coffee when I was outside, I realized that that the quality of coffee in Toast Box (and its tea too) is pretty consistent regardless which outlet I visit. And the reasons could be because they roast and grind their own coffee beans, have their proprietary blend of 3 types of coffee beans, and their ‘baristas’ are not ordinary shift workers, they have to go through months of rigorous training before they can be graduated as one.   

I had the opportunity to attend the Nanyang Coffee Appreciation workshop conducted by Toast Box. I was pretty excited about it as I was able to learn a little about the science and art of making a cup of good coffee.

The workshop was conducted in Queens’s Coffee, at the BreadTalk Headquarters at Tai Seng, a place where BreadTalk group houses all its F&B brands – BreadTalk, Toast Box, Din Tai Fung, Ramen Play and Food Republic. 

The main difference between the Nanyang coffee and the Western coffee, besides the choice of beans, is the type of milk used. The Western coffee uses fresh milk or UHT milk, Nanyang coffee uses evaporated milk or condensed milk. 

Have you wondered where does the “C” come from? In the olden days, most of the coffee makers used F&N Carnation Milk (which is the evaporated milk). In those days when literacy rate was low, most of them found it difficult to pronounce “Carnation”, thus the short form “C” was crowned.

Here’s a little quiz for you, see if you know the colloquial order of our kopi menu:

Kopi O
Kopi O Kosong
Kopi C
Kopi Peng
Kopi Siew Dai
Kopi Ga Dai
Kopi Gao
Kopi Di Loh
Kopi Po

Score 10/10?    Scroll down for answers.

Types of Beans

Coffee Plant

Most of us may have known Arabica and Robusta coffee beans. The former are planted in highland (1000-2000m in altitude) and are generally more expensive; and the latter are planted in lowland (700 and below in altitude) and are generally cheaper. There is a third type of beans called Liberica, also planted in lowland. Toast Box uses a blend of Robusta for base, Arabica for aroma and Liberica for extra dimension. The proportion of the 3 beans is a trade secret.


There are 3 main types of processing:

This is the oldest method of processing. The coffee cherries are sun dried for up to 4 weeks before sending to the mill for hulling, sorting, grading and bagging.

The coffee cherries are soaked in water. The ripe cherries sink while the bad ones float. The pulp are then removed by breaking down the cellulose through fermentation followed by washing them with water. The beans are then sun dried.

This is perhaps the most interesting way.  The cherries are eaten by civet cats. The cats’ digestive juice act as enzymes and break down the cherry meat. The beans, which are indigestible, will then be passed out as waste. Come, smell these beans!

We were fortunate enough to have a taste of freshly brewed Coffee Luwak. Guan from BreadTalk Group told us that the beans cost US$1600 per kg!  


There are 2 main methods of roasting the beans: the Dry/Clean Roast and the Torrefacto Roast (Hainanese or Hock Chew style). In Torrefacto Roast, sugar is either both caramelised and added (Hock Chew style) or not caramelized but added (Hainanese style) to the Robusta coffee beans to add weight, thus making the beans even cheaper.  This is why Nanyang coffee is cheaper than Western coffee. And to my amaze, Singapore is the largest consumer for coffee in the world! It was estimated to be 4.4kg per capita.

The factory size roasting machine in Queen's Coffee


The cheapest and the least fussy way of brewing coffee is Filter Extraction method. But it is 1 of the most difficult skills to master. It takes considerable practice to brew a decent cup of coffee.

The tools used in Filter Extraction brewing method are: Filter (some called it Sock), Pots (Dragon pot and Coffee pot) and Agitator.

 Dragon Pot

There are many factors to take into consideration in order for the coffee to turn up well. These include ration of water to coffee, size of the grounded coffee, water temperature and extraction time.

What Makes Toast Box’s Coffee Special?

I had my questions answered that day, I began to understand why the quality of coffee (and tea) in Toast Box outlets is pretty consistent. Toast Box is the first in Singapore to adopt “Grind as you Brew” method to ensure the aroma of the coffee beans is kept intact. So, in all Toast Box outlets, you will see this machine that ground the beans. Beans are not grinded in the factory, packed in tins, and distributed to outlets.

Grounding Machine

Toast Box also has a proprietary blend of 3 types of coffee beans, their ‘baristas’ (Coffee Master) are rigorously trained (error rate less than 5%) and they practise standardized brewing methodology. All coffee will be discarded after 25 minutes if there is no order coming in to ensure the freshness of coffee.

Are you interested in attending the Coffee Appreciation workshop? Do drop an email to Toast Box to check out the dates. 

BreadTalk IHQ

Address: 30 Tai Seng Street, Singapore 534013



  1. I actually didn't know the difference between the tea C, O, gao and siu dai until I started drinking tea here :-)

    1. Haha, that's because you were overseas for a while, I think. I didnt know there is 'kopi sua', because i seldom hear it.


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