Marrakech, 1910 – in this Moroccan city, glittering with mansions and minarets, the Dar el Bacha palace might be just one more marvellous gem in its crown. But from this palace alone wafts a potent fragrance, fresh-brewed in its resident coffee room. Drawn by this unmistakable aroma, some of the century’s finest minds (including Colette, Charlie Chaplin, and Winston Churchill) have visited Bacha Coffee to sip the nectar of the gods.
A good century later, Bacha Coffee is taking its first steps outside Marrakech, with a luxurious coffee room and boutique at ION Orchard. Thanks to Singapore’s thriving cafe culture, we’re no strangers to international coffee franchises hoping to brew up a storm here. The epithet ‘cafe’, though, suddenly seems woefully meager as we stand before Bacha’s magnificent trove of 200 Arabica coffees, sourced meticulously from 33 countries and hand-roasted fresh in Singapore. ‘Palace’ is more like it.
Inspired by Dar el Bacha’s opulent interiors, every surface of this 30-seat coffee room fairly dazzles. The mirrored ceiling drips with sumptuous chandeliers, indigo latticework is played up with saffron accents, and coffee masters pour out brews from gold-plated gooseneck pots. The star of the show, of course, remains the hundreds upon hundreds of canisters lining the walls, housing a treasury of beans that would make any coffee connoisseur drool. From single origin coffees to fine flavoured, fine blended, and CO2 decaffeinated brews, Bacha Coffee’s collection spans them all.
Where to begin? No better starting point, we reckon, than a brew hailing from Arabica coffee’s birthplace, Ethiopia – the Sidamo Mountain Coffee (S$9 per pot). Spicy and bold on the nose, this washed coffee has a rich mouthfeel which gives way to bright floral notes. If you like your cuppa sweet, you’re invited to pop in a spoonful of coffee-infused sugar or grated vanilla beans, but it’s certainly gorgeous au naturel.
So is the Copacabana Coffee (S$14.50 per pot), a darker, earthier blend of South American and Oceanian beans. With its nutty undertones, this brew is remarkably good with Bacha’s range of flavoured croissants (S$8 for 2 pieces), particularly the pistachio and orange almond.
Intrigued by the marks indicating each coffee’s strength on the menu (one coffee bean marks the least strong and five the strongest), we ask the Bacha Coffee masters to bring us one of their strongest poisons. They happily oblige with an iced Kenyan Black Pearl Coffee (S$9 per pot). Typically, we’re told, two coffee beans can be found within a fruit − but a bean sometimes grows up an only child. This ‘black pearl’ is reputedly denser and more flavourful, translating well here into a bright, fruity roast.
By now, all that joe is giving us the jitters, so we line our stomachs with some heartier fare. Besides cuppas and pastries, Bacha Coffee offers a surprisingly solid menu of Moroccan-inspired mains. The crisp Moroccan Chicken Pastilla (S$24) is jazzed up with a clever dab of Rosenheim Coffee, while the superbly moist Barramundi Tajine (S$26) is steeped in a rich broth of butternut, olives, and aubergines. And you certainly can’t leave without trying their mouthwatering Traditional Moroccan Kefta Meatballs (S$28), which come stuffed inside whole tomatoes to allow the tangy juices to seep through fully.
Who needs dessert when one of Bacha’s mellow fine flavoured coffees will do splendidly? A nod to Bacha’s beginnings a century ago, the 1910 Coffee (S$9 per pot) has all the summery sweetness of strawberries in fresh cream. Stir in a scoop of Bacha’s signature whipped cream, and have yourself a slice of Chocolate-Cocoa Bean Cake (S$8) for good measure.
There’re still 200-odd coffees to conquer, but for now we’re happy to finish with an iced Mardi Gras Coffee (S$9 per pot). Laced with tangy pineapple nectar, it’s a brew that bursts with tropical joy − a party right in our mouths.
Bacha Coffee is located at 2 Orchard Turn, #01-15/16 ION Orchard Mall, Singapore 238801, p. +65 6363 1910. Open daily 10am − 10pm.