Tag Archives: Kopi

Common Grounds – Gallery Open House @ National Gallery Singapore

The National Gallery Singapore upsized weekend festival Common Grounds took place on 11th and 12th June 2016. This was a festival packed with many different types of fun interactive activities for all visitors to participate and enjoy.

What were some of the fun and exciting programmes that were held during the Common Grounds weekend festival? Let me bring you there with my stories and photos ~

Art Alive

There were a number of 3D photo backdrops and floor vinyl located across different segments of National Gallery Singapore, bringing the artworks from the exhibitions to life. Art Alive was popular with the visitors there, it was really interesting and funny to see how they strike funny body poses and faces when they were at the various 3D photo backdrops.

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Nostalgic Pop Up Market

Reliving the past through the markets, the pop-up street scape at the National Gallery’s basement concourse. Traditional nostalgic games like the chapteh or pick-up sticks proved to be a fun and enjoyable leisure activity for both the young and adults! The Chinese calligraphy writing was popular too, a queue was spotted waiting to meet the Chinese calligraphy master and collecting their beautiful calligraphy artwork! There were also paper cutting and a chance to take a photo with the trishaw too!

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Family Fun

There were events for families with children to participate together, through art-making. These art events served as a good bonding time for the whole family and it was ideal for the young children to explore art and craft at a young age.

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Fusion Music Performances

At the Padang Atrium, this location is going to transform into a hot spot for watching performances in the future. The talented musicians from various disciplines, from traditional to the contemporary, from jazz to world music, all of them performed a musical feast for the ears at the Padang Atrium, entertaining the visitors with the different types of music.

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Kopi Talk

This event Kopi Talk, is an interactive and experiential storytelling activity, with the questions based on hawker food, heritage and related art. This was all about sharing and chatting with strangers in your group, along with a cuppa of kopi or teh. The activity was simple yet very interesting, draw a card from the 2 sets of cards, read out the question to the rest of the group and start sharing away! These topics touched my heart a lot, somehow, I managed to share quite a fair bit there during Kopi Talk with the people inside my small group interaction.

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With more interesting and interactive events taking place at National Gallery Singapore, it is slowly building up its presence and branding among the various museums and heritage institutions in Singapore.


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Tong Ah Kopitiam

One of Singaporeans favourite morning breakfast set is our local kopi, kaya toast with half boiled eggs, eating it in our kopitiam with a newspaper to accompany us. While the kopitiams today in Singapore have changed a lot, there were a few rustic and nostalgic kopitiams in Singapore that did not change with the modern times.

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Tong Ah Kopitiam, is one of those few rustic and nostalgic kopitiams that is still remaining in Singapore today. I went there a few times, located in the rustic Keong Saik Road, Chinatown area. Although I don’t go there regularly, I loved their kopi and kaya toast, the taste and authenticity of our favourite local kopi, the fragrance and freshness of the kaya toast. The ambience, retro designs, decoration and interior are in an era of olden Singapore that not many of us know about today.

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With this post, Tong Ah Kopitiam will not be at its iconic building location anymore, with their last day of operation on 14th July 2013 at 10pm. I got wind of the information/news earlier from a Facebook Group – Old Places, from a posting by Royston Tan, one of Singapore’s film maker, whose works Old Places and Old Romances, inspired me to photograph and document the remaining Old Places in Singapore before they were gone through my Old Places photographs, writing and sharing. While it was a business decision by the landlord to take back the Tong Ah Kopitiam floor space, it must be very heart wrenching for Tong Ah Kopitiam and they were a part of Singapore’s growing up years.

As the curtains draw down on the iconic Tong Ah Kopitiam, it is Singapore’s loss that they have to move out away from that iconic building. However, I am glad that they are still going to continue operating their business at a few units down the road, at 35 Keong Saik Road. Tong Ah Kopitiam is one of our many Hawker Heroes, traditional yet still as charming and attractive for the young and old. Let’s keep our awesome and delicious local food heritage and culture flying high and proud, not just in Singapore, to the rest of the world too!


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Traditional Kopi by Lam Yeo Coffee Powder

Kopi, as it is commonly known in Singapore, it’s the Malay word for coffee. The coffee beverage is a common drink worldwide that is able to bond people together with a cuppa of coffee. Our local kopi, is something very special and unique, different from the coffee beverages that are prepared and served in other parts of the world. Have you visited a kopitiam a.k.a coffeeshop, ordered a kopi and have a thought about it, how different it is from the coffee by Starbucks, Coffee Bean etc?

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Today, I would bring you through a short history tour of a traditional coffee powder grinder that produced the kopi for our kopitiam. They are Lam Yeo Coffee Powder with a rich history and heritage in our local kopi culture. I first heard of Lam Yeo Coffee Powder when I watched Old Places documentary by Royston Tan and they were featured inside there. The Old Places documentary was very inspiring to me, that spurred me onwards towards history, heritage, preservation and conservation of such Old Places and traditional businesses in Singapore. Lam Yeo Coffee Powder was one of the locations inside the Old Places documentary that I really wanted to visit and the opportunity came when I was allowed to follow along another of National Heritage Board (NHB) projects, visiting Lam Yeo Coffee Powder, with blessings and permission of Lam Yeo Coffee Powder.

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I took a few hours time off from work, went there visiting Lam Yeo Coffee Powder, joining along with students from First Toa Payoh Secondary School who were there to learn about the coffee powder grinding trade, to have a hands on the coffee grinding business and speaking to the owners about the history and heritage of coffee in Singapore. Our major newspapers Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao were there together with tv crew to write and share about the traditional coffee powder grinder too. Being a local kopi addict, a coffee supporter, it’s like an adventure to learn more about kopi from the experts themselves, the owners from Lam Yeo Coffee Powder. Our traditional local kopi is special and unique because the coffee beans are roasted before grind into kopi powder, a taste that is different and something that you have to try if you are a visitor coming to Singapore! There wasn’t any roasting facilities at Lam Yeo Coffee Powder and I wasn’t able to see traditional practice in action.

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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. Chatting with the owners of Lam Yeo Coffee, I got to learn a lot more about kopi from the early days of Lam Yeo Coffee in Singapore

– They were founded in 1959 at another location before moving to their current location at 328 Balestier Road during the early 1960s and they stayed at this location till today.

– The kopitiams in Singapore in the olden days used to have an area behind them to roast their coffee beans that would be grind into kopi powder for their kopitiams. With changing times, regulations and health concerns, kopitiams no longer roast their coffee beans behind their backyard.

– Lam Yeo has a great customer service culture from the days they started their coffee powder business. Customers that bought from them had a chance to redeem gifts over time when they returned back to buy coffee from them. By accumulating Lam Yeo Coffee Powder cards (our modern day purchase card with stamps), they have choices to redeem their preferred gifts. Customers can redeem a small gift with just 2 cards and they have different gifts for the number of customer reward cards that they kept when they returned to buy Lam Yeo Coffee Powder! This is a great example of providing great customer service and rewards, thus ensuring many loyal and return customers! Check out the customer rewards card by Lam Yeo!  They are very authentic and very classic!

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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. Chatting and listening to the people from Lam Yeo Coffee Powder, it was very enriching and enlightening for a kopi lover like me. If you a kopi lover like me, do help to support our local kopi culture! Lam Yeo Coffee Powder is on Facebook too, support them and Like them!

The short time there, photographing, chatting and learning about Lam Yeo Coffee Powder, their history and heritage, it’s very meaningful and enlightening. Therefore, I would like to say a big THANK YOU to National Heritage Board and Lam Yeo Coffee Powder for this special invitation and opportunity to photograph, document and share the story of the traditional coffee powder grinder trade.

This blog entry is written in support of the “Heritage in Episodes” project under the Heritage Institutions Division of NHB which seeks to document traditional trades and businesses, and to promote public awareness of these trades and businesses through NHB’s social media platforms. The traditional coffee powder grinder will be featured in an upcoming episode of the “Heritage in Episodes” project and video clips of traditional trades such as rattan weaving and Chinese lantern painting have been uploaded on NHB’s YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/yesterdaysg.”


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