So much has been said in the recent years about the need to preserve our culinary heritage. I am glad that Singaporeans are slowly waking up to the fact that we need to do something to preserve our precious culinary heritage before it all disappears.
Lam Yeo Coffee Powder located along Balestier Road sells old style coffee with a strong aroma for a living. It has been serving Singapore for over 50 years now, and has not changed much since it was first founded till now. It’s like an adventure to learn more about traditional coffee from the experts themselves, the owners from Lam Yeo Coffee Powder. Their traditional local coffee is special and unique because the coffee beans are roasted before grind into coffee powder, a taste that is different and something that you have to try if you are a visitor coming to Singapore!
That is probably why, despite the mushrooming of modern cafes in Singapore, more and more people are finding their ways back to this gem. It’s no longer just good quality “cup of excellence” coffee powder that the family-owned business is selling. The customers are here for the history, which Lam Yeo Coffee Factory willingly repeats, every single day.
When you step into the Lam Yeo Coffee Powder Factory, you'll find yourself travel back in time, to the 1950s, seeing sacks of coffee beans piling up in the plywood shelves, a subtle light penetrates through the entrance where a tableau of containers filled with coffee beans and powder is placed. The sound of the coffee grinding machine and the smell of coffee aroma in the air once again remind you that this is where time stood still, in a little spot in Balestier Road.
Although the shop appeared to look old and laid back, it brings back a great sense of nostalgia to every regular customer. They utilize traditional methods to grind coffee beans into coffee powder. Many see such shops, albeit dwindling in numbers, as gatekeepers of the old tradition. Many of the coffee powder factories are now equipped with new technologies to assist in the coffee powder making process. It is difficult to find a coffee powder factory in Singapore like this anymore.
Confidence is what the Lam Yeo Coffee factory has lived by for the past half a century. On a typical day, regulars would ride in on motorcycles and cars to pick up their bags of freshly ground coffee powder. Regulars would ask for stronger, lighter, more or less bitter coffee, and the owner would then scoop out coffee beans from their 10 signature blends with a formula in mind before pouring them into the grinding machine to create the perfect blend.
There are about 20 to 50 customers every day, mostly the older generation, who were the shop’s customers since the early years the shop was built, and still love the taste of Lam Yeo coffee powder.
Lam Yeo Coffee Powder has a lot of history, heritage and tradition inside their shophouse. They kept their authenticity, original style and furnishings, with many old treasures and antiques stored in their cupboards, those that might not be able to find in modern Singapore today.
Lam Yeo Coffee is an old-school coffee retailer that’s like a blast from the past with its old grinders and tools. It has upheld its reputation for long by adhering to quality and freshness of what it makes.
In this modern era, times have changed so much over the years, the practices and traditional businesses faced many challenges today. Lam Yeo Coffee Powder today not only do what they are expert in, coffee roasting and grinding. They also have other types of coffee beans/coffee powder that catered to a different coffee taste too.
As antique as it sounds, the word “old” is the last thing that the owner of Lam Yeo, wants to be associated with. Even after 54 years, they are still introducing something new to their customers every day by importing gourmet coffee beans from South America and Africa after seeing a growing demand for it. Now there’s a little corner in the shop decorated with jars of gourmet beans from Uganda, Jamaica and Guatemala.
Also, there are two types of coffee powder which are the most selling in their shop, as Lam Yeo claims. They are the Bali Coffee, which is sold at a price of $21 per kilogram and Arabica Mendheling, which can be purchased at $25 per kilogram.
Remember to have a look at the lovely vintage memorabilia that litter the store front, a throwback to Lam Yeo’s earlier days.
Lam Yeo Coffee Powder is undoubtly a classic representation of local diverse and rich culture and heritage.
Lam Yeo Coffee Powder is one of the few coffee traders left in Singapore today. While luckier ones have managed to stay rooted in their original premises, others have had to make do with out-of-the-way industrial estates or fall out of business altogether. Much more needs to be done on an official level if we are to preserve the dying trades. On a personal level, what you and I can do is to learn to appreciate and enjoy what we have left.
Please also feel free to browse another related photo documentary story which i had posted recently, titled "Coffeeshop With Bygone Style in Singapore - Heap Seng Leong" at this link.
Enjoy drinking coffee in old fashioned comfort and enticing coffee aromas in these places create a feeling of nostalgia!
A freelance Singapore-based travel photographer / photojournalist. I seek the extraordinary, but finds beauty in the everyday. Life is interesting, capture it.
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