From kopi-boy to national champion, it has been a long and emotional journey for Terence Tan, the co-founder of Tad Coffee. What began as a childhood pastime spending days at his grandparents’ coffee shop, has transformed into a passionate full-time pursuit, leading up to him winning the Singapore Barista Championship in 2017.
For Terence, success didn’t come easy or overnight. It took him 9 years and 7 attempts before he won the Singapore Barista Championship in 2017. The title brought him one step closer to representing Singapore on a world stage at the prestigious World Barista Championship.
That was a dream finally realised.
“I broke down on stage. But it was comforting to know that “if you work hard, your hard work pays off”. I hope that my experience can be an encouragement for younger baristas.”
Before enlisting for National Service, he had a stint at a cafe where he learned how to brew coffee.
“When I became a junior barista, I learned that coffee was more than just a simple beverage – it can taste flavourful and sweet, not just bitter, which is a very different perception from when I was younger.”
It was from this moment, that his curiosity for coffee-making was ignited.
Upon hearing about the World Barista Championship, he set a challenge for himself – to perfect his craft of coffee-making and represent Singapore on a world stage.
It was an emotional and arduous journey. For each attempt he made at the Singapore Barista Championship title, he would spend 3-6 months prior to the competition sourcing and roasting coffee beans, undergoing countless cupping sessions, and perfecting his coffee-presentation routine.
Winning the coveted Singapore Barista Championship title opened more doors. He finally had the opportunity to compete at the World Barista Championship where he learned invaluable skills alongside baristas from across the world. He was also named Singapore’s coffee ambassador for the year.
With that experience, Terence co-founded Tad Coffee with a focus on creating coffee flavours that are suited for local taste buds. Through training sessions, he also imparts his knowledge to local retailers and homebrewers in Singapore.
During our time with Terence, we were captivated not only by his bubbly personality but also his heart of gold. Terence sources for raw beans only from smaller and sustainable farms to support their livelihood while ensuring quality beans for the end-consumer.
From bean to cup, Terence is actively involved in each process. Upon selecting a coffee farm, a coffee cupping session will be arranged with the bean trader to ensure the beans are of the right taste profile. He will then roast the beans in Tad Coffee’s roasting facility before packaging them fresh for retailers and homebrewers.
What is the secret to making a perfect cup of coffee?
“Freshness of the beans is key. From the roast to grounds and brew, its freshness contributes to your taste experience. It also connects you to the stories of the people who prepared these beans to bring you a beautiful coffee. Enjoying coffee that way justifies the hard work behind those coffee beans.”
To ensure you are using the freshest beans, Terence recommends buying coffee beans locally and grinding them on demand. By doing this, it will bring you closer to what you can experience at a cafe. Consumer knowledge of the coffee machine and beans used are also paramount to perfecting that cup of coffee.
Terence also emphasised the importance of investing in a coffee machine that is reliable. Compared to manual coffee brewing equipment, a coffee machine controls essential elements such as temperature and water flow rate over the coffee beans.
For the near future, he has set a new challenge for himself. To educate more coffee lovers and help them bring a holistic coffee experience back to their homes.
“Making coffee at home is more economical and you can craft a beverage not just for yourself, but also your loved ones.”
While the road may seem long, it is evident that Terence has made his mark in Singapore’s growing specialty coffee scene.