Haaaaaaaave you met Pav? No? Well then… meet Pav (formally known as Pavan Khialani), owner of The Hangar. Till recently, the resident barista at Sarnies‘, Pav is a self taught coffee ninja who will make bad coffee a mere memory. Looking to bring the best cuppa to our little red dot, Pav promises you freshly brewed coffee with hints of vanilla, almond, cinnamon and hazelnut. We caught up with him for a coffee (well, I had a chai latte) to find out more about his caffiene fuelled dreams that led to the Hangar. (Ps: If you’ve been to Sarnies’, you’d know he doesn’t need no Barney Stinson to do his introductions) So you’ve been a barista for….? …close to 8 years. I started off in a few cafes when I was in Melbourne. I love coffee and I love hanging out with people so that was it! So you like meeting people? But why do you need coffee for that? Coffee is perfect for that because it brings out the best in you! *laughs* It’s true…it really does! It gives you a burst of ideas and really revs up your creative and artistic side! I can do anything I want, maybe ten times better, when I have a good cup in my hand.Yeah, also, I am highly addicted to coffee – I can’t go a day without a good cup of coffee; I need it in order to function. So your first cup? I was 15. One of my mates, he took me out and said “Hey mate, just try one of these. They are really good” Coming from Singapore, I’ve had coffee before but I don’t know why, it didn’t give me the same effect. But when I had my first cup in Melbourne, I felt like I was a stand up comedian. I could say anything, I could do anything. I had confidence, I was clear, I was precise – it was beautiful, a very magical moment. Okay, is that really coffee you’re talking about? Well, if I told you, I’d have to kill you. So let’s leave it at that. You sound like you know a lot about coffee *laughs*….so what makes the perfect cup? One of the most important thing is the freshness of the beans. Everybody thinks its the barista that makes the coffee taste amazing but in fact, it starts with the roasters. Always ensure that your beans are, at maximum, a week old. When you have freshly roasted coffee, it tastes a lot better as it has more of the flavours that it originally had. Its effects are better and there are loads of antioxidants that make you feel better. In short, for the perfect cup, make sure it is fresh. So I am a huge fan of filter coffee– is that actually coffee to you? And while we’re on that, what’s your take on local coffee? Well, it’s just different as we all have our own taste. For me, I guess I’ve learnt how to appreciate the natural flavours of coffee. That’s the thing, a lot of people are not exposed to them because they don’t have fresh coffee. I’m sure filter coffee is amazing but try a really good cup of Ethiopian Sidamo Cherry or a Bali Natural. You’re tasting almonds, you’re tasting chocolate, you’re tasting tangerine, strawberries and blueberries. Local kopi and the like, use Robusta beans and the effect of the coffee is really really strong. It is the jackhammer coffee. Maybe when I’m at a rave or if I’m about to climb a mountain, I’ll appreciate it. But when I am doing my work or trying to be creative, I really enjoy Arabicas. I like the gentle push. I don’t want to blow my head off. At the end, it’s just like how you appreciate different cuisines or food cooked with different flavours. There is always plenty of room for discovery. Also, I used to drink coffee with sugar. When I first started, I had a latte with one sugar in it and that was my daily cup. There’s, ummm, nothing wrong with coffee and sugar? No, no, no, no. *laugh-grimaces* It is totally wrong. Totally wrong. It’s clear you like, okay, LOVE, drinking coffee but how did you get into making it? Everything I’ve discovered comes from experience. I have read books but man, the books lie! For any business, experience is the most important thing and you have to try it for yourself. Being a coffee lover, I was curious to find out why beans tasted different on various days or why one roast differed from another. I bought a home roaster and started roasting – it was amazing. Every single type of bean had its own profile and flavours so it wasn’t long before I developed a knack for it. See, eventually you end up with this map – as if you have actually travelled the world. You have gone all the way to Ethiopia, you have gone to Yemen and you have gone to Central America; you realise special beans come from all these origins and they are all so delicate. They need the right sort of roast, the right sort of temperature, the right sort of balance, to achieve that optimum cup. What coffee really is, is art. You are combining so many factors that what you churn out is magical. Well, you were Sarnies’ face for coffee…why strike out on your own? Passion. If you know what you want to do, then I urge you to go for it. Setting up a business is hard but doing anything well is hard. There will always be hurdles and problems – things not getting done on time and the usual red tape you have to cut through. But keep pushing and you’ll get there. The Hangar hasn’t got there yet but there is always a market for good stuff. The way I see it, we are going back in time. Back in the day, you would have those mom and pop stores where everyone knew each other and there was a human touch that existed. There is plenty of room for that in Singapore. There are a lot of coffee shops here yet, there are a lot of types of coffees that aren’t served and people haven’t discovered them. When you return to a place, because you had a great experience, met someone cool, or just had really good coffee, it has caught you. And that’s the beauty of business. If you are really love what you do, you will like spreading the message and you will have no trouble creating something beautiful. If you keep doing the things you don’t want to do, it will start to eat you up inside but if you start following your heart, somehow man, it’s like magic. The leaves are falling in the right direction, you are just meeting the right people, there’s some sort of push. Well, a little bird told us that you were going to become a fancy lawyer when the coffee bean bit you. How did your family take it? It was a bit shocking at first *laughs* but you know, they have been supportive. They have always been the sort to say“ If you want to go do something, do it. You will find something eventually.” But I’d say even if your parents are not supportive of what you are doing now, eventually, you will have to make the choice. For all our young readers, ummm… it’s still good to finish studying. You gotta follow your heart, man. Three lessons you’ve learnt about being in this space? One : It’s always about the people. It’s amazing what a few kind words can do to someone’s day. Some people would say that small talk is for w****ers but small talk is a great starter for something big. A little bit of conversation can go a long way. In Melbourne, it is easier to meet and talk to people but Singapore is catching on. Two: Be yourself and encourage whom you work with to be the same. Many people start working and they lose themselves, becoming something they are not. At the Hangar, we’ve said as long as you follow government regulations, you can do whatever and you are fine. Three: Question everything, always. Never take someone’s word for it; always do your homework and enquire deeply. When you do, you start to discover a whole lot of other things you wouldn’t have otherwise. And that way, you never stop learning. The Hangar has quite a unique feel to it – it’s “raw and gritty meets vintage lighting”. Tell us about it. As I keep saying, the real experience of a coffee place is the people. It is the ability to share a great cup and connect with ideas and create something. Then you tend to meet people that come into your lives that help you build a place, that give you a certain direction. With the Hangar, we did a lot of DIY projects, and it all started with a cup of coffee. We’ve done our own murals, we’ve painted our signs, we’ve learnt how to stencil. We made our own tables, using pipes for legs. And we had to go hunting for these materials! Australia has this place called Bunnings, no such thing in Singapore…! There was this one guy we met, somwhere in Jalan Besar – he was sporting this tattoo sleeve and was just huge, intimidating but when he looked at our table idea, he loved it! People were always astonished with what we planned to do. Also, we heard the Hangar’s coffee machine will blow our coffee loving mind? Absolutely. It is a vintage 1970s La Marzocco which we stripped, reconditioned and souped up, to, well, blow your coffee loving mind! I think it would be accurate to say that it is definitely the only La Marzocco in Singapore and probably one of a kind in the region! I wanted a custom coffee machine so that the barista has full power over every aspect of brewing the coffee. Simply put, I can now control the temperature, water and pressure, which is usually preset in most coffee machines. With this, if I want to steam milk at 91 degrees, it will be steamed at 91 degrees exactly. Your cup of coffee is calibrated perfectly. Note: At time of publishing, the machine was expected to arrive at the Hangar in about a week.
Okay, because we are all things Indian over here at L.I.D, tell us your:
Favourite Indian restaurant? I love my thosai. Madras Woodlands makes a really good one, tastes exactly like the first time I had thosai in India. And, really, their coconut chutney… (Pav stops talking and takes a moment) Recommended place to go for coffee (if the Hangar is closed, of course)? I really like Artistry along Jalan Pinang. They do some really good blends and the coffee is always fresh and roasted. It totally counts as one of the guys running it is Indian…! Also, one of my favourite coffeebeans is from India ; many people don’t know that India saves her best beans for export. The Malabar coffeebean, all the way from the mountains has got a hazelnutty-cardamom-cinammon flavour. We will be having it at the Hangar as a fantastic cold brew. Chai? I do like tea even if it is more gentle. One of the things that was inspired by chai is the Hangar’s chai latte. It’s made traditionally, in the sense that we boil it for hours. Not like 20 minutes but like 12 hours – it’s the real deal. We combine it with milk to give a nice finish. How do you feel about Rajinikanth? I like his moustache. Every man’s dream to get a mo’ like that. Aside from perfectly calibrated coffee, check out The Hangar for their specialty pour over coffee at 25 Arab street, anytime from 10am to 7pm . The Hangar also serves food, cold pressed juices, smoothies and their own brewed soda. ‘Chat over Chaat’ is a new monthly interview series with off beat Indian personalities in Singapore. ** FACEBOOK CONTEST: Head over to Little India Directory’s Facebook Page to see how you can be one of FIVE WINNERS of a 1-for-1 coffee & sandwich at The Hangar. Contest Ends 30th November 2014.**