Nylon Coffee Roasters in Singapore opened its doors in May 2012, the culmination of a shared vision by partners—in life and coffee—Dennis Tang and Jia Min Lee.
Years earlier, Tang and Lee lived and worked in London, the former in the IT industry and the latter in the banking sector. Lee moved to New York, but the two remained connected as each shared their experiences visiting the cities’ cafés on weekends. So entranced were they with these encounters that when the couple returned, together, to Singapore in 2009, both started work in local cafés to familiarise themselves with the domestic coffee scene.
When it came time to launch their own establishment, it was only natural for them to pay homage to the two cosmopolitan cities which ignited their self-professed “coffee epiphany”: hence “NY-LON” was born.
Nylon Coffee Roasters is located at Everton Park, a quaint and tranquil estate comprised of seven public housing blocks. The coffee bar and roastery sit at the ground level of one of these buildings; such spaces in the local context rather aptly catering to communal gatherings and shared events.
Inside, the space is decidedly simple and uncluttered. Patrons are greeted by the sight of the coffee bar and baristas as they enter, and usually proceed to the central long, high communal table once they have made their order. The subtle-toned interior, often suffused with natural light thanks to the glass-paneled façade, offers a casual, open, and warm coffee-drinking environment.
Several days a week, customers can also watch either Dennis or Lee roasting their coffees in the adjoining roastery. In their roasting room (cleverly dubbed ‘The Maillard Project”), the pair meticulously aims to preserve the natural characteristics of the beans they source, while developing their roasts enough to maintain balance and sweetness in the cup. Their production roasts are carried out on a restored Probat L5 Roaster, which was sourced from Germany. Also present is a small Quest M3 Roaster from Taiwan, which they use for their sample roasting.
At the coffee bar sits a restored two-group La Marzocco GS/2, which the couple found in Seattle, Washington, and had further refurbished in Hong Kong by vintage espresso machine restoration legend, Paul Pratt. Alongside this classic machine, two Mazzer Konys handle grinding for espresso—with one housing their Four Chairs Seasonal Espresso Blend, and the other either their single origin offering or guest espresso.
Filter coffees are ground on a Mahlkönig EK43, and prepared with Kalita Wave Drippers, AeroPresses, or Clever Coffee Drippers, depending on the method deemed best for a particular coffee. Nylon prides itself on its filter bar, believing that it showcases the ease at which coffee drinkers can brew similarly tasty cups at home using the same brewing methods.
The concept of the ‘Black and White’ coffee menu offered at Nylon Coffee Roasters can be credited to 2009 World Barista Champion Gwilym Davies. Milk-based ‘white’ coffees are served according to cup sizes (3 oz., 5 oz., and 7 oz.), rather than the usual designations found elsewhere, such as ‘cappuccino’, ‘latte’, and ‘flat white’. The couple found that there were too many variations in the presentations of such beverages, and that they could better manage customers’ expectations based on specific espresso to milk ratios.
Currently, Nylon’s espresso selection includes their Four Chairs Seasonal Espresso Blend (a 50/50 mix of an El Salvadora and Nicaragua), Fazenda Vale Verde (Brazil), and Finca San Diego Buena Vista (Guatemala). For filter coffees, patrons can choose from Dumerso (Ethiopia), Chorongi (Kenya), and Los Pirineos (El Salvador). Though the coffee choices at Nylon are always changing based on seasonal availability, and they have offerings from numerous origins throughout the year. Customers also have the occasional opportunity to sample coffees from other international roasters—picked up by friends of Nylon on their overseas travels, from Australia to Scandinavia to the UK.
Tang and Lee spend several weeks each year travelling to origin to source green coffee from farms, looking for places where workers are well taken care of, which treat the environment with respect, and are open with information on how their coffee is grown and processed. In the past few years, this has taken them to El Salvador, Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua—with plans to visit other coffee producing nations in the near future.
This has allowed the duo to build close relationships with specific farms such as Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza in Brazil, Finca Santa Petrona and Finca El Zarzal in El Salvador, and Fincas Mierisch in Nicaragua. Since they were first established, Nylon Coffee Roasters has also worked closely with European green coffee importer, Nordic Approach.
For Tang and Lee, being intimately involved in sourcing, roasting, and brewing is what Nylon Coffee Roasters is all about. With their passion for detail, they are building a great home for coffee lovers, under the shady arches of Everton Park.