Chat with Harry Grover from Forty Hands

Harry GroverPhoto Credit: Spa Esprit Group

For our last coffee feature of this month, we had a chat with Harry Grover, owner of Forty Hands Cafe and Kiasu Expresso, to talk about the local coffee scene, and his plans for 2013.

What do you think of the local coffee scene?

The local coffee scene is really exciting right now. It is slowly getting its own identity. A few years back, cafes here started by copying ideas from the Australian cafes – in particular those in Melbourne – and now most of the established ones have pretty much created their own styles and sophistication.

In fact, in terms of coffee expertise, I believe Singapore is edging closer to Australia, and ahead of most Australian cities like Sydney, Brisbane and Perth – with the exception of Melbourne, of course. Consistency, however, might be the only thing lacking. A lot of the new coffee joints are not sustainable as they lack the manpower – most do not have enough talent to produce good coffee consistently.

Advice to people who want to open a café?

You must know a few things. First, you will not have a life on weekends and holidays after opening a cafe. You are probably also going to lose weight while managing the cafe. And if you are prepared to make the sacrifices, you need to have a concrete business plan and be really familiar with the day-to-day operations of running a cafe. There is no way you can jump onto the bandwagon without knowing anything about the trade.

Tell us briefly about Forty Hands

Forty Hands is more of a happy-go-lucky and youthful brand. It is a simple cafe that specialises in coffee.

Any exciting plans for 2013?

Our latest venture is Kiasu Expresso, a tiny takeaway joint at 100AM on Tanjong Pagar Road. We will also be opening Common Man Coffee Roasters at Martin Road in August. The name of the cafe is to pay tribute to the fact that coffee is grown and drank by the common men. People tend to have the misconception that only hipsters drink coffee – which is definitely not the case.

Common Man Coffee is a mature space dedicated to being more coffee-centric, and we will also be serving a restaurant-quality menu alongside coffee. It has a 7kg roaster for roasting single origin coffee beans. And we will also be looking to introduce more coffee appreciation classes.