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Things no one will tell you about opening a F&B

As many know, for a couple of months, We at Nineteen95 ventured on a side project and collaborated to produce a F&B. Do note that we are no longer associated with such F&B. There are many ways to set up a startup, rights, wrongs and varying experiences! However, through the experience, we have learnt a lot about opening, operating as well as all that is good and bad about your own F&B. Here are some things no one will tell you about opening a F&B.

You will work more hours than you realize

Many look to opening their own startup to escape the 9-5 life. I am going to be honest and say, that idea was always in the back of my mind when I think about opening a F&B. However, we all fail to realize that we actually clock way more hours. Just considering at operation hours, you are likely to be at your establishment during its opening hours. Aside from that, there is prep work and even cleaning up to do before and after operational hours. That is easily an additional few hours into the day!
Well, many can see or account for such work hours, but we, as owners, do not realize the amount of time spent handling backend matters outside of operation hours. Scheduling shifts, ordering supplies, meetings, interviews etc. There is a hundred and one things to do within the designated time.

It takes time to profit

Anyone who sets out creating their own cafe or F&B, at the end of the day, are in it for the profits. What’s the point of venturing out and being your own boss but not rake in any profits? Lets be realistic here, everyone needs to support themselves or even their family right?
Its easy to imagine long lines and endless revenue with our novelty ideas. In reality, it actually takes time to break even with all the initial cost. On average, it takes about 2 years to break even.
Studies have shown that within the first 5 years, 8 of 10 cafes close down. Subsequently, 1 of the 2, that survives, will close down in the following 5 years.
One must recognize the fact that it takes time to profit. If it was so easy, everyone would have and will own their own business.

There isnt time to do it all yourself

We have all heard the saying “there is only 24 hours in a day”. The meaning behind it is that one will only have a said amount of time to do what they need in a day.
If you are thinking of running a F&b, do note that running a shop is never easy and is never a one person job. Even if you are at your F&b everyday, you cannot do everything from waiting tables to preparing the food.
Learn to structure a team and delegate your work or even outsource jobs. Even the busiest and most successful companies or restaurant relies on multiple staff to get the job done. Sometimes we have to put faith in the right people to run things while as an owner or manager to take care of the back end tasks.

No formula to success

We see dozens of cafes opening everyday during the cafe boom. But what works for one shop does not always work for the next. Don’t expect to copy a successful concept or style and expect to be successful. Find your own niche and emphasize it to establish your brand as own. We do recognize that not all business ideas and plans are unique but know that you have to set yourself or your brand apart from your competitors. This is what makes your brand or industry grow as time passes.
Once you found your niche, its not the time to relax and take it easy. Like people say, “easy come, easy go”.
There is really no real formula for success, we must keep working towards our goal to ensure success. Pay attention to what your customers tell you and adapt when necessary, from the latest food trends to the next Instagram worthy cafe, that every teen has to go to, your business needs to be both agile enough to keep up yet grounded enough to know what is important to the core customers.

Embrace Competition

What is arguably the most common question in our food loving country?
“What do you want to eat?”
Think about it, when you eat out, do you eat at the same place every single day for every single meal? So, why do you expect your customers to do the same?
Everyone needs variety, customers come and go. Hence, we need to remember what your niche is and highlight it. Embrace your competitors not insult them.
Talking bad about your competition doesn’t make your brand any better. It just makes you look like a jerk. Every business has its own competitive advantage, there are things you do better while there are things your competitor can excel in.
“A rising tide raises all ships”, you do not need to be the only person that succeed, instead think about how to rise with the tide. If your ship is sinking, then patch the holes and try to keep up with the rest!

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Types of coffee everyone needs to know

There are many types of coffee based beverages, from drip coffee to your favourite StarBucks Frappes. In this article we are focusing on espresso based beverages. Here are the types of coffee everyone needs to know!


An espresso drink that consists of espresso, steamed milk, and foam. What makes a latte vs a flat white or cappuccino? Well the differentiating factor would be foam. In a latte there is a greater percentage of steamed milk than foam.






Similar to the Latte, a Cappuccino also consists of espresso, steamed milk, and foam. Comparing to the latte, expect to see a bigger proportion of foam in your beverage. Then comes the next question, “What is a wet cappuccino vs a dry cappuccino?”
In a wet cappuccino there is a slightly greater percentage of steamed milk. In a dry cappuccino there is almost no steamed milk and consists of almost pure foam.




Flat White

Last of the comparison, the flat white has all the ingredients of a latte or a cappuccino. Among the three, Flat White will carry the least foam, followed by the Latte then a Cappuccino. There isn’t a concrete definition of a flat white. There are two school of thoughts; mainly “Forget the foam” or “Its all about the Foam”. Don’t get me wrong, there is no right or wrong when it comes to coffee, its up to the individual’s preference and taste. Some cafes serve there flat white with no foam while other will typically serve their flat white with minimal foam. At Nineteen95, we take our Flat White with just a little foam right on top.








Typically made with espresso, milk, foam and chocolate powder or syrup. The Mocha is one of the most popular drinks to help transition person who just started drinking coffee to a coffee addict. For our baristas, we take on the mocha using 53% Dark Chocolate powder to add that richness from the chocolate into your coffee to create another layer or dimension to our coffee.







Long Black/Americano

A cup filled with hot water and topped with espresso shots. An Long Black is an alternative to a regular cup of  brewed coffee and usually is more flavorful. Personally, the Long Black is a better cup of coffee compared to a regular brew coffee because of the fact that it is made to order. Taking on the perspective of giant chains like Starbucks or Coffee Bean, brewed coffee is made in batches. This allows the brew coffee to sit and deteriorate over time. However, a Long Black is made to order and that helps maintain that quality of your coffee.












Traditionally, a Piccolo Latte is a ristretto shot topped with warm, silky milk served in a small latte glass. Basically, a baby latte, as the Italian pronunciation suggests. When drinking a Piccolo, expect to taste more vibrant flavour notes and less bitterness in your coffee IF it is done right.









The Macchiato is a cornerstone of Italian coffee culture, along with the espresso and cappuccino, among other coffee drinks. It’s basically an espresso with a small amount of foamed milk on top usually served in a espresso cup. To the layman, the Macchiato can be considered to be a baby cappuccino.









Brewed by forcing small amounts of nearly boiling water under pressure through finely ground coffee beans. Espresso is generally thicker than coffee brewed by other methods and holds higher concentration of suspended and dissolved solids with crema (a thicker and less dense liquid at the top) on top. Espresso is mainly the base of all the drinks above.








One of the most difficult and temperamental drinks to brew using the espresso machine. Traditionally, a short shot of espresso made with the standard amount coffee used for an espresso but with half the amount of water. The assumption we make when pulling a ristretto is that it’ll be a richer, smoother, sweeter tasting extraction. Being a shorter extraction, a ristretto will extract less acidity from the coffee.








This is a coffee based dessert, taking the form of a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with espresso. The combination of the sweetness of the vanilla and creaminess of the ice cream with the smooth texture from the espresso along with its flavor notes is a heaven made match.
This Italian dessert has many variations. It is also commonly served with a touch of liquor such as Baileys Irish Cream.

Do you know your coffee? Tell us whats your favourite espresso based beverage.







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Basic steps in perfecting latte art

The cafe scene in Singapore is all about that instalife. You are never at that cafe until you post the photo of your #foodporn. In Singapore, the cafe trend is simply, all about looks; mainly latte art. Well, so for all our barista readers, how do we perfect latte art. At Nineteen95, We are not latte art champions nor are we experts. However, we are baristas who can pour decent latte art and we learnt from scratch. No training, just trial and error. Well they say practice makes perfect right? We have spent countless hours pouring latte art, working on the techniques. Without training, we would have a better sense of what you home baristas will face when perfecting latte art.

There are 5 major factors to take note in order to perfect latte art.

  • Machine
    This is probably the biggest factor. The machine will affect the quality of your art as it dictates your espresso and the quality of your steamed milk which also happens to be other factors in perfecting latte art.
    Based on my home setup (Delonghi EC155 Vs Rocket Cellini), the quality of espresso and milk is at different levels. The espresso can yield much more crema and the steam wand of the Cellini is much more powerful and can easily bring out that “wet paint” consistency for my microfoam.
  • Cleanliness
    This would refer to cleanliness of your tools such as your grouphead of the machine, steam wand and milk jug. Simply put, we do not want any of the above mentioned items to be dirty. We would like to work with a clean surface to ensure less variables for that perfect latte art.
  • Espresso
    Latte art is a combination of both espresso and quality steamed foam. Both materials (espresso & milk) has to be at tip top condition, there are of the utmost importance. However, in the world of latte art, when it comes to espresso, its all about the quality of crema.
    Crema is that layer of brownish foam that forms on the top of freshly made espresso coffee. Weak or little amounts of crema will cause the base of latte art to be out of shape. Quality crema will give your latte art the perfect base, in short, crema = base or your canvas in latte art.
  • Steaming
    This is where most people fail. Steaming milk is something that is extremely difficult to teach & master. It takes hours of practice to find what he/she is comfortable with in order to produce the microfoam.
    Personally, how I steam my milk is as shown,

    As shown, the milk wand will be in the center of the milk jug. What we aim to do here is to spin the milk much like a whirlpool.
    Once we have the whirlpool established, we need to incorporate air to create foam. To incorporate air, we must lower the jug and the tip of the milk wand has to be at the near the top of the surface of the milk. Expect to hear a “hissing” sound, that is when you will know that your technique is correct. If you hear the sound of bubbles being created, that means your milk wand is on or above the surface of the milk, this will create the opposite of what we want, which are the giant bubbles.We recommend practicing with soap and water as having soap will have promote the creation of foam. *Just remember to flush your milk wand before your next usage. There may be excess soap that is stuck in the milk wand. Always flush before using*
    For a more comprehensive guide, do check out our other post:
  • Pouring
    All latte art is built using to styles. Mainly the “Heart/Tulip” which is more of the push style, or the “Rosetta” which is more of the free hand or “wiggling” style. For me, I am more comfortable with the “Heart/Tulip” style while Uzen is more into the “Rosetta” Style.
    The technique is fairly simple and can be picked up from YouTube videos. Just keep in mind when to keep the spout of your milk jug near the surface of your coffee to create the white foam and when to keep the spout higher and farther away from the surface when there is no need for any foam.
    At this point, baristas in training can practice their technique using water and an empty cup. They say “Practice makes perfect”, so happy pouring!


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Is Rocket Cellini the best machine for you?

Many of you have seen our setup thus far. The combination of, Rocket Cellini and Compak K6 Grinder, is not the most impressive but it gets the job done. We are going to see how the Cellini gets the job done.



Rocket Espresso produces the finest espresso machines in the tradition of ‘Fatto a Mano’ translated to, ‘made by hand’. The small team of craftsmen produce both premium domestic and commercial espresso machines, beautifully made with meticulous care and attention to detail. More importantly, Rocket Espresso machines will deliver the finest espresso in the cup, time after time. A partnership between New Zealander  Andrew Meo and Italian Daniele Berenbruch who bring philosophies from opposing sides of the world into their Milan factory to make the best espresso machines they possibly can.


  • Specification


The Rocket Cellini is equipped with a an average-sized water tank, yielding relatively stable water temperature, which in turn produces somewhat consistent espresso quality. Given that the Cellini is the bridge between a home coffee machine and a commercial standard machine, it is not surprising that the Rocket Cellini is a single group machine. Some may think that a single group is in efficient but the beauty of it is that, it allows one to focus on the single cup of coffee that the barista is brewing to ensure quality and consistency.

Image result for rocket cellini *Nineteen95 does not own this photo. Photo credits go to the owner of the photo.

As seen in the picture above, the boiler is made out of copper, which is the most durable material as it resists corrosion very well over time. The copper boiler has a capacity of 1.8L and a water reservoir that can hold approximately 2.5 litres of water. (based on personal judgement from usage). This unit utilizes single-boiler w/ heat exchanger to heat water. It pumps water through a heated coiled tube (the heat exchanger), heating it up to ideal brewing temperature. This system maintains the water temperature more consistently and enables you to brew and steam milk at the same time.

  • Personal Experience/Review

    • Looks

      Designed with a rectangular stainless steel body, the Cellini gives a clean and neat look that shows its power and at the same time, stay humble. On top of the clean design, the machine is relatively compact and is of a decent height. The only downside is its weight, the machine weights approximate 23kg.

    • Pros

      • Steam Wand

        The machine features a no burn steam wand. Any barista would have gotten burnt by the steam wand before. By having a no burn steam wand, those burns are a thing of the past.

      • Able to steam and pull espresso

        As previously mentioned in the other posts, I used to operate the lower tier Delonghi espresso machine which could only steam or pull an espresso. This means that I had to choose either one factor to deterioate due to the time taken to do the other task (Steaming milk vs pulling espresso). The Cellini, now, allows me to both steam milk and pull the perfect espresso.

      • Retain heat

        The copper boiler allows the machine to retain heat consistently which is perfect to produce a higher productivity rate.

      • Quality foam

        Latte art requires quality steamed milk. How to we know if its perfect? If you’re a barista, you would have heard that your foam has to be like wet paint. The steam wand produces enough power and steam to create that “wet paint”.

      • Rich and beautiful crema

        The ideal brewing temperature and the consistent retention of heat aids in the creation of rich and beautiful crema for our espresso.

    • Cons

      • Drip Tray

        Maybe there is a disadvantage to its compact size. The Cellini has a relatively small drip tray which constantly needs to be emptied. However, this issue can be easily solved if the machine was plumbed instead.

      • Only a single boiler

        Equipped with a single boiler and heat exchanger, it is plausible that the Cellini may not be able to meet extreme demands of a full fledged cafe. From prior experience, I am confident that the Cellini can hold its weight and perform at a high level.

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Best Coffee Beans For You

Taste is subjective. Each individual will have their own preference, a cup of coffee can taste delicious to one while the same cup of coffee can taste horrible to another. Hence, we are going to run through the different types of beans based on its species, origins and roast to determine whats best for you!


There are two main species of coffee beans in the world, Arabica and Robusta.  More than three-quarters of the beans that are sold in the world today are Coffea Arabica, the majority of the remaining bulk are Coffea Robusta. “Coffea” is not a typo, Coffea is a genus of flowering plants whose seeds, called coffee beans. So, the question lies in which is the best. We will break down each species based on price, taste & crema.

  1. Price

    Robusta the cheaper alternative as compared for Arabica. This is a result of ease in growth and maintenance, Robusta can also produce a higher yield and are more diesease resistant.

  2. Taste

    Arabica beans triumphs over Robusta beans for this category, unless you like the taste of burnt tires. Robusta has a bitter taste with a rubber like texture due to its caffeine content. Arabica has a sweeter, with nicer flavor notes and contains more sugars. However, do take note that this is in general. It is possible to get Robusta that taste as good or if not better than Arabica, but it is not a regular occurrence.

  3. Crema

    Robusta produces more crema for your espressos compared to Arabica. This means if you want that nice color and base for your latte art, Robusta beans are perfect to use to get that nice golden brown to contrast with the white from the beautiful microfoam.

Given the 3 factors, which species is superior? Fact is that none of the two is better than the other. Most coffee roaster mix the two species to create their own blend. A mix between Robusta, to bring out the thick crema and nutty flavour, and Arabica to bring the fruity notes and improve the overall taste.


In reality, the flavor of coffee is almost impossible to generalize. There are so many factors that affect the taste; altitude of the plant, ripeness of the fruit and how thoroughly the bean was washed. However, we are able to get a pretty good idea of what a cup of coffee will taste like depending on where it’s from. Most will break down their beans to 4 regions. Central America, South America, Africa & Asia.

    • Central America

      We have beans coming from places such as Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador & Nicaragua. Beans from this regions are usually very balanced and have a good mix of sweetness and fruity acidity which brightens the taste of coffee.

    • South America

      In this regions, coffee beans are produced in Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador & Bolivia. Similar to Central American coffee, it is relatively light. However, within this area, different countries produce a different flavor profile. For example, Colombian coffee tends to be more sweet and less acidic with nutty hints, while Brazil beans have a less-clean after taste and chocolatey flavor notes with a creamier mouth feel.

    • Africa

      Coffee are grown in Ehtiopia, Kenya and Uganda. These beans are considered as one of the purest kinds of coffee out there. This is because of the flavor profile is extremely diverse. Usually described as complex, fruity and floral, African beans are strong, fragrant and full bodied flavors.

    • Asia

      This region is a wild card. Why do I call Asia a wild card? That is because beans from this region tend to have extreme opinions; either complete love or hate. Asian coffees tend to be earthier and darker compared to others. These beans are less acidic yet more complex.


Image result for light to dark roast coffee

Light Roast

Light roasts are light brown in color, with a light body and no oil on the surface of the beans. This roast have a toasted grain taste and pronounced acidity. The origin flavors of the bean are retained to a greater extent than in darker roasted coffees. Light roasts also retain most of the caffeine from the coffee bean.

Medium Roast

Medium roasted coffees are medium brown in color with more body than light roasts. Like the lighter roasts, they have no oil on the bean surfaces. However, medium roasts lack the grainy taste of the light roasts, exhibiting more balanced flavor, aroma, and acidity. Caffeine is somewhat decreased, but there is more caffeine than in darker roasts.

Medium-Dark Roast

Medium-dark roasts have a richer, darker color with some oil beginning to show on the surface of the beans. A medium-dark roast has a heavy body in comparison with the lighter or medium roasts.

Dark Roast

Dark roasted coffees are dark brown in color, like chocolate, or sometimes almost black. They have a sheen of oil on the surface, which is usually evident in the cup when the dark roast coffee is brewed. The coffee’s origin flavors are eclipsed by the flavors of the roasting process. The coffee will generally have a bitter and smoky or even burnt taste. The amount of caffeine is substantially decreased.

To summarize the differences, in addition to the color gradations:

  • As coffee roasts get darker, they lose the origin flavors of the beans and take on more flavor from the roasting process.
  • The body of the coffee gets heavier, until the second crack, where the body again thins.
  • Lighter roasts have more acidity than darker roasts.
  • Light roasted beans are dry, while darker roasts develop oil on the bean surface.
  • The caffeine level decreases as the roast gets darker.

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Who is Nineteen95?

Introduction: Who is Nineteen95?

Given the rise of the mobile coffee cart industry, Nineteen95 has been seen at various events and pop up locations. But who is Nineteen95? Nineteen95 is a Singapore based startup by two childhood friends. The business focuses on providing Mobile Coffee Catering in Singapore. The name of the business is derived from the shared birth year by the owners. The startup had always been just another idea for both our founders. Until one day when our founder, Uzen, decided to take a leap of faith and he started taking the first step to venture into the unknown.

The intent of this article is to showcase our owners and help you guys to better understand who we are and what we represent. Each of us will go through namely, our journey as baristas, our home coffee setup and lastly the expectations & aims of Nineteen95.

Uzen Tan, Founder

First up, we have our founder, Uzen.

Coffee Journey

Uzen started out working at various food and beverage companies as well as cafes. Given his drive and commitment, he starting learn the ropes of the different roles that each company had to offer. He was thrown into the bar and was “groomed” to be a barista, with almost no knowledge.

With bare basics, such as how to operate a espresso machine and the parameters, mainly being dosage of espresso grinds used and time taken to extract a espresso shot, Uzen had to cope with the high demand for coffee during brunch hours at a busy cafe. At this point of time, coffee did not mean much that special moment where he had that cup of coffee. He was introduced to the world of flavours that coffee had to offer, this ignited his passion of coffee and Uzen started on his journey to master his craft.

Home setup

Uzen starting investing in his home setup when he was just a teen, just like any other teen, he did not have much capital. Hence, his first set of equipment consist of the Delonghi EC 155 and a Hario hand grinder. As time passed, he knew he had to improve and Uzen was in search of ways to pull a better cup of coffee. After saving up, Uzen managed to get his hands on a La Pavoni Espresso machine and Lelit PL53 burr grinder, which is his current set up at home.

You can read his guide on how he makes his daily cup of Latte using his La Pavoni here:

How to make Latte with a La Pavoni

Expectation & aim for Nineteen95

In the next 5 years, Uzen expects the business to grow and eventually expand into a physical outlet – a Cafe. The original idea for the both of them was to start an F&B outlet. After much planning, they realized that firstly, it was too much capital for them to invest. Secondly, the risk involved was too high. And lastly, both of them, though having worked in various F&Bs, do not have the experience and network to start on a big scale. Therefore with Nineteen95 the Espresso Bar, it gives them an opportunity and introduces them to running their own business. And in the next 10 years, if the business does well, they hope to franchise the brand and compete with the established brand names like Cedele and other brand names.

Julian Lim, C0-Founder

Next, our co founder and head barista, Julian.

Coffee Journey

Julian starting his first part time job as a barista at a coffee chain. At that point in time, being a barista was just another job until  his colleague introduced him to latte art. Seeking a new challenge as a barista and pouring a beautiful piece of art was the what he needed to spruce up his mundane job. Given a lack of training, Julian resorted to picking up the fundamentals of latte art from online sources like YouTube. Countless of cups of coffee were made just so that he could get more practice. Being home trained, Julian went through a series of trial and error in order to acheive the skill to pour a simple heart. From here, everything was set in stone, Julian went on to greater difficulty in terms of quality of designs and achieved what he has today.

Home Set up

Having worked as a barista for several years while schooling, Julian did not need a home machine, or so he thought. Before he knew it, Julian felt a need to have his caffeine fix at home. At this time, Uzen had just upgraded his setup and as such, Julian was able to inherit Uzen’s initial set up as mentioned. It is human nature to be lazy, Julian hated the fact that in order to get a cup of coffee, it takes him approximately 5-10 minutes to grind his beans using the Hario Hand Grinder. This spurred him to upgrade to the Compak K6 Grinder.
Another issue with us humans, is greed, nothing is ever enough and we are never content. Similarly, Julian grew tired of the Delonghi EC 155. Throwing caution into the wind, he decided to cash in his savings and bought the Rocket Cellini. This current home setup is also what consumers can see at our coffee cart!

Expectation & aim for Nineteen95

As of now, Julian does not have much expectations of the business and recognizes that many startups fail. This does not mean that he lacks the drive or confidence to ensure the success of Nineteen95. The only expectation, he has for Nineteen95, is progress. The business must continue growing each day, in any way, from experience to finance.
Nineteen95 was intended to be a cafe. However, due to a lack of capital and experience, our founders started smaller with a coffee cart. Hence, Julian aims to grow Nineteen95 to a cafe someday.


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If you are looking for mobile coffee catering services, do check out our website at ,drop us an email at

Nineteen95 the Espresso Bar
Mobile Coffee Catering Singapore