Singapore barista champion Ryan Tan no stranger to Melbourne

TO Ryan Tan, coffee is not just a drink, it’s a way of life. Alyce Shaw catches up with the three time Singapore National Barista champion when he was back ‘home’ in Melbourne for the World Barista’s Championships. 


Coming from the buzz of participating in the World Barista’s Championships in Melbourne in May and the World Latte Art Championships in Nice, Ryan Tan is excited for what the rest of 2013 has in store.

He has more competitions ahead of him

“I’ll be travelling a lot and hopefully bringing back some knowledge and insight from where I’ve been,” he says.

When Meld spoke to Ryan in 2012, he was in the process of opening a new specialty coffee shop in Singapore. With Strangers’ Reunion and Strangers @ Work up and running, Ryan is in the process of opening his third Strangers’ store.

“This one will focus more on roasting, coffee appreciation and training,” he says.

Why ‘strangers’ you ask. It’s built on the essence of cafe culture, according to Ryan – catching up with friends or colleagues you haven’t seen in a while.

“We always end up meeting with a stranger at a coffee shop, someone we haven’t seen for a very long time. My customers are always meeting with people they once knew,” he says.

Ryan says he hopes the new Strangers’ store becomes a stepping stone towards further improving the coffee available in Singapore, including what’s available to home brewers.

“I believe everyone should be able to achieve the same standard of coffee in their household as the one they get from an espresso or specialty coffee shop,” he says.

While he may have made his fortune through coffee shops, he’s a coffee geek at heart, and passionate about Singapore’s now thriving coffee culture. He believes the brew is definitely no passing trend in the country.

“I don’t think it’s a fad. It’s a lifestyle and cultural change,” he says.

Ryan at the World Llatte Art Championships in Nice, France.

Ryan at the World Llatte Art Championships in Nice, France.

“More and more people travel and experience the coffee culture in other places and bring back what they’ve learnt to Singpoare.

“Here in Singapore the locals like coffee with a chocolate, nutty flavour, and to be able to create that particular taste for your customers takes some interesting skill,” he says.

As far as Ryan’s concerned, the best part of coffee making is catering to consumer’s taste, and offering locals a hot drink with a flavor profile they can enjoy. But that’s no excuse for lovers of the brew to get complacent. The barista champion says people should always keep an open mind when taking the first sips of their daily vice.

“Don’t just have this preconceived idea of how coffee should taste. It’s something we should all consider, then we can expose ourselves to a lot more flavours,” he says.

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