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Have you ever tried the Strawberry Pipagao Latte?
Nick Liu of FiftyFive Coffee Bar puts a unique and nostalgic spin to a latte
If you love your traditional latte but would like to go beyond your usual cup sometimes, why not try a flavoured one?
It could give you something to look forward to, and it might even surprise you. In fact, let Nick Liu, managing director and founder of FiftyFive Coffee Bar in Singapore, persuade you.
And he’s probably the best person to do it. FiftyFive Coffee Bar is a cosy spot in Chinatown that offers coffee in espresso-based, filter and cold brew forms, as well as an intriguing range of teas and cocktails.
The team is pretty creative on its own, but they also collaborate with chefs, baristas and mixologists to come up with memorable flavours in their drink and food menus too. (They launched a seven seas-inspired selection of cocktails and Japanese-inspired bowls early this month. You might want to check them out.)
But back to flavoured lattes, and FiftyFive Coffee Bar’s in particular: the Strawberry Pipagao Latte (among others).
Available hot and cold, this latte is made with Pipagao, handmade strawberry jam and espresso. Nick describes it like this: “To me, the Pipagao Latte tastes like comfort. Upon the first sip, drinkers are transported back to when times were simpler. It’s reminiscent of our childhoods.”
It’s the Pipagao. If this is the first time you’ve ever heard of it…
“The Strawberry Pipagao Latte plays on childhood nostalgia, where a bottle of Pipagao, a type of Chinese cough remedy, was an essential item in every household,” Nick explains.
“As such, when customers spot this drink on the menu, I feel it’ll be compelling for them to order it out of curiosity to see how it’ll actually taste when paired with coffee.”
So don’t pull back from trying it just yet. It’s actually a well-thought-out drink. Just listen to what Nick and the team went through to make it.
“Our talented team came up with this drink when given the brief to create something that plays on childhood nostalgia,” he begins.
“We initially considered ingredients such as Kopiko, a classic coffee sweet, but when we tested it with Pipagao, everything just fit together nicely and we decided to go ahead with that.
“The difficulty we faced was ensuring that the flavours were well-balanced, which is why we decided to add strawberry jam,” he continues.
“Many customers have told us that the taste of the strawberry is subtle, but the reason we added it in was to inject the natural fruitiness and sweetness of the stewed berries to tone down the medicinal notes from the Pipagao and the natural bitterness of the coffee.
“This resulted in a complex yet well-rounded flavour.”
The Strawberry Pipagao Latte vibe
According to Nick, this is what it would feel like to enjoy the Strawberry Pipagao Latte. So if you can’t order it or try it anytime soon for whatever reason, you can imagine it – for now!
• Paint a picture
“The perfect scene for me would be of a family comprising both young and old, enjoying and reminiscing about this drink together – talking about the past through rose-tinted glasses while the sun filters through our shophouse windows, reminding them of happier times.”
• When to have it
“Personally, I enjoy the drink as a refreshing pick-me-up in the sweltering heat, especially after walking to get to the café.”
Get it while it lasts
Savour the experience because it’s entirely possible you’ll see another version of the Strawberry Pipagao Latte in the future.
“We’re always on the lookout for exciting combinations of ingredients, so keep your eyes peeled for what’s next!”
Speaking of the future
It looks bright for flavoured lattes, especially the ones at FiftyFive Coffee Bar. Here’s a glimpse of what might be in store.
• Interesting additions
What inspires Nick and the team to consider an ingredient to add to or create their flavoured lattes?
“When selecting ingredients, we always consider the overall concept for each season before we begin,” he reveals.
“For our previous season, we wanted to create a drink that has a distinct contrast between the new and old. That’s the reason why we chose manuka + miso + coffee as a way to shake things up, and alongside that we had Pipagao + strawberry, incorporating an old-school flavour that evokes a sense of familiarity.”
(Nick is talking about their Manuka Honey Miso Latte, which is made of espresso, manuka honey and miso-infused milk. Sadly, it’s no longer available.)
• Testing the waters
Which ingredients are they curious about, and curious enough to use for any of their new or future lattes?
“We’re currently exploring the use of Kopiko, but other than that, another interesting ingredient we’ve been experimenting with is gochujang! I’ll leave the interpretation to your imagination.”
• The process is never straightforward or simple, that’s why it never gets boring
“I think lattes are a beautiful representation or fusion of visual art and taste,” Nick says.
“So many factors go into creating a visually appealing and tasty latte – from the type of milk used to mastering the perfect steaming technique to ensure a smooth texture free of microbubbles, down to executing the latte art. These work hand in hand to deliver an incredible outcome.
“So the next time you have a satisfying latte anywhere, thank your barista!”
Have FiftyFive Coffee Bar’s lattes and flavoured lattes, and you will.
A few tips
If the mention of jam and syrup in your espresso, like in the Strawberry Pipagao Latte, makes you feel like you can be creative with your own drinks too, then go for it.
#1 Open yourself up to opportunities to level up your coffee
Think about what you might come up with if it only takes two to three ingredients to produce something new.
#2 Use an ingredient from your childhood
It might not be Pipagao, but maybe something else? I already have a few candies and sweets in mind. I could crush them into powder or tiny bits to flavour my latte.
Or we can all just head to FiftyFive Coffee Bar. They have other beverages – like the Matcha Latte, Dirty Spiced Lemonade and Sticky Chai – to tide us over till we finalise our coffee creations.