You would think that the humid Singaporean air would make people shy away from queuing, yet the line that went out the door hinted that not even the heat could keep the crowds away from what lay beyond the grand entrance. Personally, I had found my way to 22 Martin Road via numerous online recommendations that stated that this was the place to be for the coffee connoisseur or for those in search of a hearty meal.
Common Man Coffee Roasters was as busy as a coffee shop could get. We had stopped by the bustling shop an hour prior but decided to wander around a nearby home and furniture shop while waiting for the lunch crowd to subside. When we returned, the place was still packed, though thankfully an out outdoor seat had cleared. We gratefully took the chance to sit down and order some cool juice, a cold brew, and no, not a latte, but an iced chocolate shake for me. The tropical heat called for it.
After ordering, I was finally able to make my way inside the shop. The scene was akin to a cafeteria with the sheer amount of diners chowing down, but instead of cold pizza, people were served full breakfasts and sandwiches served on pretty stoneware crockery. The marble green baristas’ counter that sat at the back of the jam-packed shop was a flurry of activity as baristas set to work on making cup after cup of quality coffee.
Off to the side was where the academy sat. Holding classes from Monday to Thursday and catering to everyone from the home barista to the seasoned aficionado, Common Man offered classes on everything from the basics of brewing, palette training, and even a course on what goes on in the coffee supply chain. The shop was committed to educating people about exactly what goes on behind their morning cup of coffee.
Right above the excitement and hubbub of the busy shop was Yoga Movement, a zen studio for those looking to unwind and refocus after their hectic day. There, Common Man had a small counter called Grounded that served up their coffee and a couple healthy yet tasty dishes for people looking to grab a bite after their yoga session. Grounded was where I met Lucky, Common Man’s head trainer who was kind enough to spend some time off his break to talk to me about the bustling coffee shop below.
The thing I was most eager to ask Lucky was about the identity of the common man. Who was he? Lucky explained that the common man was, in short, everyone. Here, they believed that everyone was entitled to the same standard of coffee regardless of profession, wealth, or class. Coffee culture as of late has been made to seem like something only a certain group of people could enjoy properly, but at Common Man, they believed that the kitchen hand and a top executive were entitled to the same latte, made with the same beans, made by the same hand.
Working closely with Five Senses Australia, Common Man offered a wide selection of single origins ranging from Indonesian all the way to Colombian as well as specialized blends for floral espressos, sweet and fruity lattes, and everything in between. Aside from holding classes, Common Man regularly holds open cupping sessions where people are welcome to share their own coffee and their stories. Also, if you can’t catch them in Singapore, no worries, Common Man will soon start brewing in Kuala Lumpur, where no doubt they’ll be an instant hit.
Lucky and I were able to talk in depth about coffee we had tried, coffee culture, farmers, and even luwak coffee. Throughout my travels, this was one of the things I appreciated most: being able to connect with someone through our mutual passion. After spending a good half-an-hour conversing, we said our goodbyes and I made my way downstairs where it was still as packed as ever.
By this time, all the drinks we ordered were gone, except for my iced chocolate shake. I was forced to be content in simply knowing that the juice was, “so good.” Obviously. My iced chocolate shake was also extremely refreshing and I can’t remember gulping something down that quickly.
When we left, I was satisfied in finally understanding who the common man is. Coffee isn’t meant to segregate people, it’s a tool used to bring together a community. Everyone is entitled to a great cup of coffee regardless of who they are. If you want to become part of that community, or learn more about what goes on behind your daily cuppa, or simply become better at brewing for your friends and family, I’d suggest you make your way to 22 Martin Road. Everyone is welcome.
Many thanks to the wonderful Lucky. I'm so happy to have met you and I hope to see you again in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. Cheers!