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Where to get good coffee on campus

Synonymous with late nights and hectic schedules, coffee has become a staple for university students. NTU students spill the beans on their go-to caffeine fix
by P A Annmarie

For the coffee connoisseurs:
Co-Op Café, The Hive

Tucked at the basement of The Hive is the Co-Op Café, which prices its coffee higher than what is found in canteens. But those extra dollars count for something: The café gets its beans from Toby’s Estate, an Sydney-based specialty café and roaster. To let the characteristics of these Arabica beans shine, they are roasted without additives such as margarine and sugar.

Final-year NTU student Bhalaji Karuppusamy, who keeps his distance from instant coffee, finds the coffee at the Co-op Café worth every penny. “I find that generally, the coffee sold on campus tastes burnt because the beans are roasted for too long. But the one sold at The Hive is good,” says the electrical and electronic engineering student as he sips on his iced latté.

Tip: Get your caffeine fix faster with the express coffee queue during peak hours.

For those who like it bitter:
North Spine Food Court

If coffee is just a means to an end, then aroma and flavour can take a back seat to make room for bitter endurance. As first-year business student Jeffrey Goh puts it: “There’s a difference between having coffee to stay awake and having coffee to enjoy its taste.”

Those up for a stronger kick may find their favourite in kopi, with condensed milk and sugar stirred in. It is brewed with Robusta beans, which pack twice as much caffeine than in Arabica beans. The kopi at the North Spine Food Court is popular among students for its golden proportion of coffee, milk and sugar.

“I like the coffee at North Spine’s food court because it’s not too acidic and has the right sweetness. I get my coffee there not just because it’s convenient – I also prefer the taste,” says first-year social sciences student Serena Lon.

Tip: Not passing by the North Spine today? Try the kopi at the Quad café instead, an equally popular alternative.

For the time-starved:
Brew it yourself

If you’re pressed for time, 3-in-1 coffee sachets may be your best bet. All you need to do is locate a hot water dispenser, which can be found on campus within faculty buildings or near lift lobbies when you’re on your way to class.

Reena Tan, a first-year social sciences student, says: “I'm usually near the South Spine so it’s easy for me to get hot water from the nearby canteen or The Hive. Aside from the convenience, I use my own instant coffee because I can get that nice aroma that you can’t find in coffee sold on campus. I really like the fragrance of Nescafe Hazelnut.”

Tip: While waiting for the lift, save time by making your instant coffee at the hot water dispensers found near the lift lobbies.

What can you do with used coffee grounds?

1. Exfoliate your skin
Add a bit of coconut oil or water to used coffee grounds to make a facial scrub that you can gently massage your face with. The caffeine in it could also protect your skin from sun damage. NTU food scientist Prof William Chen explains: “Caffeine has been shown to have antioxidant properties, which may be reflected in skin protection against free radicals from sunlight.”

2. Tenderise meat
Add spent coffee grounds to your favourite dry-rub recipe. Coat the meat two hours before cooking it and let enzymes do the rest. These enzymes, called proteases, break down the proteins found in muscle fibres and connective tissue in meat, thus making it tender, says Prof Chen.

3. Neutralise odours
A bowl of coffee grounds placed in the fridge or freezer can help to absorb and eliminate odours, thanks to the combination of nitrogen and carbon found in the grounds, says Prof Chen. You can even rub them into your hands after chopping garlic to keep your hands smelling fresh.


HEY! student writer
Annmarie loves watching old movies and plays and would catch every musical out there (if she had the money for it). She hopes to live life joyfully and understand people better.