The founder of annual coffee festival #BettrWeek (October 5-13) and social enterprise Bettr Barista Coffee Academy (a cafe and barista school) talks about her love for sustainably sourced java and spotlighting craft food makers. 

How did you get into coffee?
I've always loved coffee. I lived for quite a few years in Melbourne, the States and Italy. So it was interesting to see how each country does coffee slightly differently. Before starting Bettr Barista Coffee Academy, I'd been running my own web consultancy for 10 years and I thought "why not use my business skills to help people?" It’s senseless to make money and not do anything with it. We started in November 2011.

How did you come up with the idea for #BettrWeek?
We started last year and the idea was to have series of curated events celebrating living, doing and being better. We are after all a social enterprise. The event includes coffee crawls, workshops and dinners, and proceeds benefit disadvantaged women.

What’s new at this year’s event?
Last year’s focus was coffee, so this year, we wanted to branch out and include craft cooking and baking. We’re also spotlighting women crafters—they aren’t given enough publicity. Since we seek to help marginalized women, it falls in line with what we do. Our beneficiary this year is Bukit Ho Swee Family Centre.

What are some highlights?
We have Buy-A-Meal, Give-A-Meal, a pop-up fundraising dinner catered by an all-female team of chefs. I was already friends with the ladies: Shen Tan of PizzaX, Jasmine Cheah of GastroGig, Luan Ee of Kerbside Gourmet, and Daphane Loke of Saybons. So it made sense to get them together. We wanted to hold it at a quirky sort of place and The Training Shed is not quite on most people’s radars. Fingers crossed it doesn’t rain. But if it does, we have a rain plan: a rain dance and tents.

What else does the Bettr Barista Coffee Academy do?
We have a Bettr Cafe@*SCAPE. It’s small and serves the start-up community in the area. Our coffee crawls also start from the cafe and you can pick up our coffee crawl guide there. The guide was a big hit last year and we don’t charge money for it. This year, there are some new cafes in the guide like Dutch Colony at PasarBella. It catergorizes the coffee places by region like “The East” and “In Town”. Many of the cafes are actually run by alums of our coffee program.

What’s special about your coffee?
We roast all our own coffee and co-buy with other roasters. We also have a direct relationship with a farm in Panama.

How does the coffee crawl work?
It’s free and easy. Just grab the guide at *SCAPE and start whenever you want. There are nine places in total, so you can either have nine cups all at one go, or space out your coffee consumption. One lone person can do it, but you can also gather a group.

Pamela Chng runs Bettr Cafe@*SCAPE.


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