As a food-loving nation with a vibrant dining scene, we are truly spoilt for choice. But instead of rushing to the next trending cafe, pay a visit to these social enterprises to enjoy a delicious treat and give back to the community. In addition to these eateries we featured earlier, here are three cafes, a bakery and a bubble tea shop where you can do a good deed that not only warms your heart but also fills your tummy.
1. Joan Bowen Cafe
After a three-year sabbatical, this well-loved cafe has reopened at its original location with the same mission to empower those with special needs to seek gainful employment and lead meaningful lives through professional hands-on training. Having spent the break honing their culinary skills and finding inspirations, the team is recharged and ready to feed more hungry diners.
Named after the owner’s special needs daughter, the cafe exudes wholesomeness, from their menu of comforting fare such as Rosemary Lemon Chicken, Chilli Crab Pasta, and Bangers & Mash, to the strong sense of community among the staff and alumni, many of whom are now enjoying a fruitful life after graduating from the cafe.
9 Jalan Wangi, Singapore 348359; more info at joanbowen.com
2. Foreword Coffee Roasters
Don’t let their stylish interiors fool you; Foreword is no run-of-the-mill hipster cafe. Here, each cuppa is made and served by persons with disabilities, special needs, and/or mental health conditions. In addition to offering employment opportunities to differently-abled individuals, the cafe supports environmental sustainability through eco-friendly packaging, and sources their beans directly from smallholder farmers in Asia to ensure quality and traceability.
From their humble beginnings as a hole-in-the-wall kiosk in NUS, the brand now runs 5 cafes, with 2 outlets open to the public. On the menu is a range of coffee drinks, teas, rice bowls and baked goods. Signature concoctions include the Timeless Yuan Yang, made with their Yunnan Ouyang coffee blend and an Earl Grey tea ice ball.
Outlets open to the public are located at Canberra Plaza (#03-08) and Temasek Shophouse (Level 1); more info at forewordcoffee.com
For other sustainably sourced coffee, check out Hook Coffee. SAFRA member discounts apply; more info at www.safra.sg/promotions/HookCoffee
3. BJ Milkytea
You might have seen images on social media of bubble tea being served through a hole in the wall by a furry ‘bear’ paw. But did you know this trending shop is a social enterprise? The unique shop concept is specially designed to minimise interaction so their staff, who are members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, can work in a stress-free environment
Without the distractions of an open concept kiosk, the staff are focused on crafting refreshing blends, like Brown Sugar Fresh Milk, Red Tea Macchiato with Ice Cream, and Champagne Grape Fiesta. Toppings span the usual pearls and aloe vera, to specialities like the cute bear paw-shaped BJ’s Classic Jelly.
1 Tanjong Pagar Plaza #01-07, Singapore 082001; more info at www.facebook.com/bjmilkyteasg
If you’re in the North, hit up Forbidden Tea at SAFRA Yishun. SAFRA member discounts available; more info at www.safra.sg/amenities-offerings/forbidden-tea
4. APSN Mystical Cafe For All
As its name suggests, the cafe strives to offer an inclusive work environment. Launched by the Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN) in partnership with homegrown restaurant chain Astons, the cafe provides opportunities for those with special needs to learn to prepare, cook and serve food. With the aim of landing jobs in the F&B sector, trainees are guided by skilled instructors to dish up familiar favourites from Astons, such as Chargrilled Chicken and Prime Sirloin, as well as specials like Nasi Lemak and a crispy Salmon Skin snack.
Hoping to create a ripple of kindness, the cafe also has a ‘Pay It Forward’ initiative that lets diners purchase a meal voucher for a less fortunate stranger.
11 Jalan Ubin, Blk 4, #01-31 Kembangan-Chai Chee Community Hub, Singapore 409074; more info at www.facebook.com/apsncafeforall
5. The Ugly Cake Shop
The name of this bakery is their tongue-in-cheek way of saying that their products are free from artificial colouring, fondant, gum, and marzipan. These additives are often used to dress up cakes but tend to be full of chemicals and sugar. Instead, The Ugly Cake Shop uses natural ingredients to decorate their bakes, which are actually stunning and far from ugly. From adorable animal-shaped birthday cakes to elegant tiered wedding cakes, it seems there’s nothing these gifted bakers can’t do. Besides customised designs, they also offer vegan options and are halal-certified.
What is arguably more beautiful than their sweet creations is the shop’s dedication to helping undernourished kids in Timor-Leste. 20% of their proceeds go towards buying protein-rich foods for these children.
535 Kallang Bahru, #01-06 GB Point, Singapore 339351; more info at www.uglycakeshop.sg
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