Crème de la Caffè (CDLC) is a project pioneered by three freshmen from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Dedicated to uncovering the dynamics of the local barista community that underpins Singapore’s coffee culture, CDLC wants to retell the stories that these baristas have to offer.
The people behind CDLC believe that the barista community is emboldened with this passion to be the best at what they do – a quality that has become a rarity in the modern Singaporean context. After all, they are the people who can turn the humble beginnings of a single coffee bean into the rich blend of beverage that acts as a modern social nucleus. Thus the title: ‘Crème de la Caffè’ – a play of words that combines the French phrase ‘crème de la crème’ (cream of the crop) and Caffè, the Italian word for “coffee” which is derived from Kaffa, Ethiopia – the birthplace of coffee.
They are usually seen behind counter tops amidst the alluring aroma of coffee and quaint café settings, working to provide the population with its daily caffeine fix. They are indeed ubiquitous, but the local barista community can ironically be considered the ghosts of society. In such a uniquely pragmatic society like Singapore, it is to be expected that baristas are a rather obscure and misunderstood group of people.
Coffee culture also has it’s own local twist in the Singaporean society. Local coffee shops, more affectionately referred to as “Kopitiams” are seen in every nook and cranny of the island – a uniquely Singaporean phenomenon. The “uncles” and “aunties” working in these coffee shops are the most frequently encountered coffee makers for the average Singaporean. Though they are vastly different from the people working in the usual European-styled coffee houses, these older folks nonetheless embodies the role of a barista in the traditional sense – faithfully serving up cups of coffee every day.
This is a community that deserves more recognition that they enjoy; their contribution to society is largely unsung. Often constrained and stifled in an industry that places customer sentiment above all else, baristas rarely get the opportunity to vocalize their opinions and perspectives.
As such, this project is to be the mouthpiece of the barista community; giving you insight into what life is like from the other side of the counter.