The space that used to be 20F (short for 20 Foch Road) Specialty Coffeehouse is now the all-new VXX Cooperative.
My friend Khalil who works in the kitchen on a consulting basis invited me over today, before it got busy with full-fledged business. “VXX” is an area code that holds sentimental value to its co-founders, whereas “Cooperative”, I would soon find, did not refer to the congregating of people from all walks of life but rather, tradesmen and women in the food and beverage (the specialty coffee sector, to be exact) industry.
I was really glad find they’d kept the tiles, tables and fixtures as before – because 20 Foch Road used to be a Chinese dispensary. The location and unit itself is jackpot, because it’s a traditionally narrow but deep shophouse divided into three rooms, characterised by the kind of music played in each part – which is wonderful because of the varying vibes you got as you walked through.
First up is the storefront that greets you and where coffee is made.
“We modelled it after those coffee competition tables. You can watch your coffee be made, and the barista will tell you about it,” says Khalil.
For anyone who makes and takes their coffee seriously, this is where it’s at.
The middle section is the main hall and cosy dining area. It really feels homely, with what lounging chairs, marble tops and Marimekko (+++ brownie points!!) (but that’s personal) pillows littered all over.
It was a no brainer picking the kitchen area to dine, because I love natural light combined with shelter from the inhumane weather, and the idea of communal dining. Also, the playlist is fly.
There is no barrier between barista and chef and friend – as they like to call their guests.
“Tastes like Bloody Mary. I like it.”
“Fantastic. That was our inspiration.”
The crew took the liberty to explain that what I was having, the Grilled and Baked Chicken Thigh with Warm Root Vegetable Salad was in fact the current staff meal; a fun indication that the staff are well taken care of. The staff meal is made available to public and possibly at a lower price than most of the menu.
I turn around and ask “Is this SHISO?!” and everyone’s faces light up. Those sprigs are such a refreshing and unexpected throw-in to the rustic dish crafted from seasonal ingredients.
There’s nothing much to be said about it except that it’s simple, fresh and executed with focus.
A minute into conversation had me certain that this place is one built on solid concepts, like-minded team mates and a sense of community inter- and intra-industry. I ask co-founder Aslam if he had visited Nordic countries, because the food here reminds me so much of the simplicity and heart of what I ate in Copenhagen. Sure enough, we soon end up raving about places like Atelier September, where the food can in fact be recreated with ease, but the very essence of the place is what keeps people coming back.
And the Long Black, by golly, is the best I’ve had in a really long while. Joy, whom I’d witness work in her coffee alma mater is the other co-founder of VXX Cooperative. She explained that this was a coarse brew throughout the entire cup rather than hot water added to an extracted shot.
If this is all gibberish to you, believe in your tastebuds and their ability to discern great coffee, because you won’t be disappointed here. Beans are from Nylon, a partner among some others they bring in such as Koppi from Helsingborg, Sweden.
The invitation seems very timely, and I’m very happy with what VXX is doing with a space that has so much potential. As they say, “come sit with us” as business begins to roll in this week.
Things are still shaping up (we’re on the same page – all for going paperless!) but I trust with an experimental spirit and humility which hopefully attracts the right people to equal playing ground, this will be such a wild hangout for as long as it is around.
20 Foch Rd
Phone: 9012 4635