Botanist is truly an enclave that makes one feel at ease, almost cloistered among the tungsten, art, actual plants, great food and coffee. What draws me to the place is how organically it seems to come together, as though very little had been formulated.
Of course we know in our social climate and receptivity within the F&B and coffee scene, much is thought through for such a tight identity and noticeable quality to come to fruition.
I get the opportunity to speak to Mike, who helms the coffee machine, but also ties everything together in terms of operations, digital identity and art direction. After all, he is an artist himself who goes by the alias @herabot, and proves to continually create and curate immaculately.
Visual artist and coffee aficionado @herabot on Instagram
FF: What is it you do for and at Botanist, Mike?
Mike: I’m basically in charge of the place. From managing the operations, to social media, and designing of the logo/menu etc. This place means a lot to me.
FF: Understand that you would definitely feel differently about this place, in comparison with other places (eg. Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roasters) where you first picked up and grew your craft.
It feels like my baby with all the little plants that I have to learn to take care of, since I’m not a florist. Seeing it materialise from nothing to something allows me to take ownership of the place.
I’ve always been a lover of nature. And to be surrounded by plants makes me feel like I’m somewhere else, like a hidden garden.
FF: So glad you manage to convey that to patrons like myself, with full autonomy. It really shows in the maturity of concept and execution. How do you manage your roles while trying to create at personal capacity?
Mike: Thank you so much! I’m just glad I could incorporate my art as well. It’s like having the best of both worlds. The team at Botanist, Pacamara and Knockhouse are great!
Right up the stairs is Knockhouse Supply Co. where the roasting takes place.
It’s a one-stop which stocks Alpha Dominche Steampunk, Compak Coffee Grinders, Kalita Japan among other brands of drinkware, tool and equipment for all coffee needs.
It’s very heartening to see passionate people carry out their craft. Most of them were also from LASALLE; it’s good to know all of us are still doing what we love to do.
I believe having a full time job has shaped me into a better person… well, I would like to think so, at least. In terms of character and such. I used to be emotionally driven, which can be very difficult at times.
Now I’ve learned how to execute all my deadlines without overthinking things. I spend so much time in the café that I can’t really afford to do that. I’m often still straddling between my job and establishing my career as an artist.
FF: Yes, creatives are perpetually on that journey in finding balance for longevity. Thank you for sharing! Any interesting stories behind the dishes and coffee?
Mike: Don’t mention it at all! I’m glad you relate. As for the dishes, I think the chef would be more fit to answer as he would have his own story.
French toast ($18); Fried Brioche, Rhubarb berry marmalade, Fresh berries, Almond flakes, Poached pear, Vanilla ice-cream. Exceptionally fluffy, cakey texture.
My personal favourites are the French Toast and Maple Pancake best. Maybe it’s because I have a sweet tooth. And a thing for avocado, so I would recommend the Guac Smash & Egg Florentine.
Corned Beef Hash ($19); Homemade shredded corned beef, Crusted potatoes, Poached Eggs with Hollandaise Sauce
Coffee-wise, we roast our own beans. That kind of adds on an extra personal touch for all of us. I may not be a roaster, but we have cupping sessions every week to keep track and quality control. We work closely with the roaster, since our roastery is right above Botanist.
Thanks again Mike for your time! We’ll definitely be back for more great coffee, and some of those amazing-sounding corn fritters.
4 Neil Road
Open Tuesday to Sunday