Latte-tude for Café Hopping

by Calvin Leong

Wheeler's Yard's iconic blue wall makes it a popular place for photo taking. PHOTO: Serene Koh

Social media influences youth to jump on the café hopping bandwagon.

Social media and the desire to look cool are the main reasons why people café hop, according to a survey done by npTribune on Ngee Ann Polytechnic students.

Café hopping is slowly making its mark as a trend in Singapore, with more and more youths jumping onto the bandwagon. With the advanced technology in this generation, words, or rather photos, about cafes spread like wildfire through social media platforms, such as the online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service, Instagram.

The hashtag #cafehoppingsg on Instagram yielded over 15,100 results as of Jul 14. A hashtag-tracking program revealed that about 70 new photos with the hashtag are uploaded daily onto Instagram and the number is growing.

“Close friends of mine who saw my posts on Instagram or blog got really interested in my photos, so they suggested to café hop with me,” explains Ong Wei Min, a second-year International Logistics and Supply Chain Management student, on her take on how social media has been an influence for more youths to join in the trend of café hopping.

Nadya Yeo, a freshman from Business Studies, started café hopping when a friend compiled a list of cafes, and invited her to join the café hop. Now, she café hops once or twice a month.

“My friend and I visit about two or three cafés every time we café hop,” says Nadya, who updates her social media accounts each time she goes to a cafe.

The increasing café hopping buzz on social media quickly made it onto the list of being hipster, something that youth these days are interested in. Nadya lists Wheeler’s Yard, a local cafe with an in-house bicycle atelier, as an example.

“If everyone goes there and takes the same photo at the same blue wall, then it becomes a hipster kind of thing,” she says.

Former owner of Palette Café, which recently closed down, Ang Kok Keong agrees, “Cafés are a fashionable place for youngsters to meet. Social media is the major pull factor that probably started this trend.”

However, not all café hoppers begin by following this ‘hipster’ movement ¬– some start out because of a lack of entertainment facilities in Singapore.

Song Zhi Yi, a second-year Psychology Studies student says, “The usual places that Singaporeans go to are always packed and these places are boring. [Café hoppers] want to find a place to chill, enjoy good food, good ambience and [where it’s] not so crowded.”

Ambiences and interiors also draw in youths to café hop. According to Zhi Yi, the ambience of cafés are the “most important factor” of a cafe, while Business Studies freshman Cheryl Ng says that she is particularly attracted to cafés with different themes and interiors.

“Being able to enjoy good food and admire the beautiful interiors of the café at the same time makes café hopping popular too,” Cheryl says.

As café hopping gains popularity, many new cafés have opened in Singapore. “Caféteria business has low barrier of entry and very high profit margin. Hence it is attractive to start a café,” Mr Ang says.

However, intense competition has resulted in the closure of many cafés.

A first-of-its-kind café hopping festival, Café Fest, has led Zhi Yi to think that café hopping might grow to be a tourist draw.

“When I go around Tumblr, I see people trying different cafés in different countries,” he says. “It is a possible factor to visit [Singapore] and try out different cafés.”

Mr Ang begs to differ.

“I doubt foreigners would travel to Singapore for cafés,” he says. “But they could definitely join in the fun.”

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