The #1 Bubble Tea02 September, 2010 by Yan
Not much introduction is needed for this current crowd fave bubble tea establishment (nevertheless here’s a little writeup). KOI Cafe has truly had great success in grasping the Singaporean taste buds for bubble tea since its expansion from an initial small flagship shop in Chinatown to the 6 stores spread across around the central and northern parts of Singapore now.
Via word of mouth and the power of internet broadcasting, KOI cafe has gained a rather strong following of loyal customers whom despite the store’s long queues still stand their ground. For those who are baffled as to why anyone would be willing to endure the queues under the scorching sun and humid weather conditions in Singapore, despite higher prices compared to other bubble tea shops, I might be able to provide you with some answers that I have come to conclude with.
Ever wondered why despite a sizable number of other bubble tea shops located in more convenient places, people are still going for that one shop serves a better drink? Isn’t it the same situation where people are willing to queue for critically acclaimed hawker stalls rather than eating the same dish served in a generic food court? That might just be the Singaporean attitude when it comes to handling situations like this.
Other reasons include the quality of ingredients, preparation and I guess most importantly, the branding. Since a decade ago when bubble tea was first introduced to the Singapore palate, one could see the usage of artificial flavorings blended into the bubble tea. I’m not stating that KOI Cafe is completely guilt-free but save some really unusual flavors, most of their drinks make use of real condiments like ice cream, aloe vera or grass jelly depending on the flavors you choose from.
One should also understand that the foundation of KOI Cafe’s drinks are built from scratch, right down to mixing the freshly brewed tea, creamer and the flavoring or toppings of choice to. That certainly puts them at a taste advantage against other shops that pre-mix their milk tea then add extra flavors.
Lastly, KOI Cafe is an overseas franchise from the land of bubble tea, Taiwan. This certainly helps to promote the shop even better. Not only do they bring their working formula and structure to recreate how the bubble teas are made back in their homeland, having a combined workforce of Taiwanese and young Singaporeans leads to the drive and vigor to dish out their products with pride.
Getting your drinks at KOI cafe at any given day:
Due to the overwhelming number of people queuing up for their daily bubble tea fix, it is frankly quite impossible to get your drink without a queue. Pictures below might give u an example of an experience at KOI cafe, right when they only opened shop at 10 am!
As with Gong Cha, there’s an assortment of teas to choose from when customizing your bubble tea (green/red/black/oolong) and also your the choice of the amount of sugar that goes into your drink (a trend benchmarked by KOI Cafe). They do sell an assortment of other drinks but bubble tea is still their trademark beverage if you just want to try out how good a bubble tea they offer.
For those who are lactose intolerant, KOI Cafe also sells an Ai-yu jelly tea which is fairly common in Taiwan but not often seen in Singapore. The Ai-yu tea is probably one of my main reason I still patronize KOI despite the long queues. Aiyu is a vegetable gelatin that is even suitable for consumption by vegans.
The open kitchen concept is definitely a welcome option for Singaporeans who like to see how their drink is actually made. If you look closely at the picture below, you’ll also notice that the classic shaker machine is back in operation in the bubble tea industry. It used to be seen often when bubble tea was first introduced to Singaporean shores 10 years ago but had somehow disappeared from most bubble tea shops until KOI Cafe brought it back.
In the past, most Singaporeans were still new to the bubble tea concept and were more than willing to fork out some money to test out the novelty. Needless to say, the bubble tea craze came crashing down after a good couple of years when the idea of paying for shoddily made and artificial flavored drinks was deemed too much. Fortunately, KOI Cafe brought back the experience of drinking teas that were made lovingly with better ingredients.
From the extremely long queues on weekends and many rave reviews on the internet, most can guess that KOI Cafe is here to stay. Lets hope that they will still maintain the current level of workmanship while opening a few more strategic placed shops to cater to more people.
Here’s a list of the currently located KOI Cafes in Singapore.
KOI Cafe Ang Mo Kio
Blk 704 Ang Mo Kio Central #01-2545
Tel: +65 6459 1518
KOI Cafe Bishan
513 Bishan street 13 #01-503
Tel: +6258 1729
KOI Cafe Illuma
201 Victoria Street #01-15 Iluma At Bugis
Tel: +6884 6817
KOI Cafe People’s Park
1 Park Road #01-16 People’s Park Complex
Tel: +65 6536 8330
KOI Cafe Marine Parade
Blk 83 Marine Parade Central #01-562
Tel: +65 6440 4869
KOI Cafe Toa Payoh
190A Toa Payoh Central #01-562
Tel: +65 6256 1169
Addicted to film, Yan shoots with a black Nikon Fm3a. For special occasions, Yan shoots with a Mamiya Sekor TLR.