Seeing all the different kinds of buildings and structures that can be transformed into stunning coffee shops is nothing short of inspiring. Throughout my travels, I’ve seen printing rooms-cum-cafés, brothels transformed into eateries, and warehouses refitted as coffeehouses. With the variety of styles, genres, and materials present in Southeast Asia’s coffee scene, no two cafés are ever the same. Singapore can attest to this fact.
In the famed neighborhood of Geylang, I was able to add another coffee shop to my list of unconventional cafés. There’s a reason the area’s former Singapore Badminton Hall became the first sports facility in the country to be deemed a historic site. It’s a location rich in history and brimming with stories—bearing witness to key political events, hosting Thomas Cup tournaments, and even a Rolling Stones concert at one point. Today, it houses the country’s largest indoor rock-climbing gym, a yoga studio, and one very hip café.
Brawn & Brains Coffee is as good a reason as any to pay a visit to the old sports facility. This is a café that serves great coffee and scrumptious brunch in one of the most interesting settings possible. After all, it’s not every day you see a coffee shop with angles quite like this.
When making a home out of a historical site, it’s usually best to let the building dictate the design process. In the case of Brawn & Brains, that meant highlighting the space’s unique asymmetrical ceiling—imparted by the spectator grandstands overhead—with plenty of natural light and the simplest of furnishings. Pops of color are provided by the shop’s selection of greenery and the bright yellow stools and La Marzocco espresso machines.
The coffee at Brawn & Brains is not to be missed, especially with their selection of in-house roasted single origins and blends. The Pen & Pencil house-blend, made with Brazilian, Colombian, and Ethiopian coffee beans is exceptionally noteworthy. To have alongside your daily cup of coffee, set your sights on their brunch-based menu which is mostly comprised of sandwiches and wraps. Just looking for a snack? Their selection of sweet treats are equally mouthwatering—and can be burned off next door.