Years may pass, times may change, but the joy of indulging in a hearty cup of kopi with kaya toast remains timeless.
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS - 1920s
It was a century ago in post-colonial Singapore when our original founder, Tan Hui Dong embarked on a humble bread delivery business. With the help of kin from his village back in Hainan Island, the original coffee shop was opened in 1925 as the base for all the baking to serve communities living in the locale.
CHANGING TIDES - 1940s
Sometime in the late 1940s, the business was then passed down to son, Tan Joo Long. In a decade of turmoil, Joo Long made it his charge to turn the tides for the business. Forging through with hard work from all the partners, the coffee shop was named ‘Chin Mee Chin’ which translates to ‘genuine beautiful treasures’ as a symbol of timelessness in a war-torn time. With him at the reins, the confectionery diversified beyond homemade breads, serving roasted coffees and breakfast to its many patrons - an offering that remains till today.
THRIVING IN COMMUNITY - 1970s
While established as a Hainanese-styled coffeeshop, the family saw an opportunity in the surrounding Eurasian communities back in the 70s and began introducing traditionally Eurasian confections including the Sugee Cake, Brown Buns, and Cream Horns into its menu. This proved to be a success with many of its bakes becoming house specialties over time, serving the neighbourhood of multi-racial patrons.
A MOMENT IN TIME - 1980s - 2010s
In the fast-paced and ever-changing cityscape of Singapore, Chin Mee Chin remained unchanged with its original interiors of defining green mosaic tiles, walls framed with paintings of yesterday, marble-top tables and classic pastries arranged in old-fashioned steel shelf displays. With the family’s resolve in preserving its ambiance and offerings, the humble coffeeshop became a Katong institution where generations of Singaporeans gathered over simple pleasures of coffee and its famous charcoal-grilled kaya toast.
END OF AN ERA - 2018
After running the business for close to 70 years, the duty and secrets were then handed over to wife Leong Kwang Ling who continued the legacy with daughter and third-generation partner, Sharon Tan. With age finally catching up to her, Madam Leong, who was 78 years of age then, had to make the hard decision to close the family business due to struggles with manpower and a lack of succession.
PASSING THE TORCH - 2021
Three years since its closure, Chin Mee Chin flips the pages to a new chapter in 2021. Reopening in partnership with the Ebb & Flow Group, its Chief Executive, Lim Kian Chun was spurred to revive the nostalgia he grew up with - not just as a long-time customer, but as a neighbour and family friend to the Tan family.
Heralding a revival of appreciation for old recipes and experiences in a modern era, the new Chin Mee Chin is a continuation of its heritage. Managed together with the original family – both Sharon Tan and her mother – Chin Mee Chin remains committed to its founding glory of classic pastries, historic ambiance and traditional comforts, with a determination to maintain a lasting legacy for the future to come.