(Special Note: The improved experience is here)

Drop by Espressamente today. This is a store of everything Illy. Illy’s home espresso machine (Francis! Francis!), Illy coffee beans in cans, Illy Coffee cups and big Illy logo everywhere.

Location: 3rd Floor, The Pavilion.
The front entrance faces towards KL Plaza.

The display of beverages were nicely done. In fact they look so good, I really felt like trying them all. Presentation is impressive.


But alas, the coffee is average at best. I would rather go to Gloria Jeans.

I ordered a Cappuccino.


As you will notice, there are some attempt to create microfoamed milk. (They call it emulsified milk), but the milk were not really velvety smooth. Still lots of small (small but still very visible) bubbles. Well, still better effort than most Starbucks.

One thing that is almost always consistent with places that uses Illy beans is that the beans lack freshness. How do I know? Credit to them, when the espresso is extracted, it does look promising from afar. Small stream of mouse-tail-like espresso pouring out. Extracting time is about 20 to 25 secs, I estimated. But the result in the shot glass is apparent. THE LACK OF CREAMA.

You don’t see a lots of crema in Starbucks because most of the time, their espresso extraction is less than 20 secs, in fact from my personal observation, most of the time it is less than 18 secs. They can harldy get the extraction timing correct, how in the world to get nice crema. Especially most beans in Starbucks is OLD.

Another thing that really bug me is that they re-froth their milk. No wonder the microfoam is not well done and most of the natural sweetness is missing.

Why am I being so critical. Dr Ernesto Illy, the second generation of the Illy family, and an absolute giant in the world of espresso and coffee research and science – has just passed away on the 3rd Feb 2008.


Using the Illy brand, they owned it to the Illy family to do a good job.

Especially if you want to charge premium price for a cup of coffee. My 7oz of cappuccino (smaller than Starbucks and Gloria Jeans) cost RM 10.00. Add in 5% tax + 10% service charge, a whopping RM 11.50.

Good presentation, nice design, average coffee and ridiculous price.

Note: All comments are purely my own opinion and preferences. Feel free to go and try. It is your money.

Last thought: There are many cafes out there. Most serve an average cup of coffee. I don’t really want to complain too much. They did charge an average price for an average coffee. But when you charge even higher than Starbucks for a smaller cup of coffee, get your act right lah.

Re-frothing milk??? Dirty portafiler??? Never dry the portafilter before dosing??? Arrrgghhh..

Final good thought: The Illy cups are great. In fact they are among the best. Thick and nicely design. Not cheap but definitely very nice cups. I will go back and buy their cups for sure.


38 thoughts on “Espressamente

  1. Simon Yeo

    Nice post….just a comment on Re-frothing milk…it’s more common than I thought…saw one at Coffee Beans the other day (dun need to mention where)…amazing that the staffs are not taught the basic of extracting espresso…sad but true

  2. Aaron

    Thats true Simon, from what I know, starbucks and coffee bean in lots of places don’t have qualified baristas. The main reason this happens is because they only send the workers for 4days of training. Moreover its just basic training. My friend works at starbucks so i got a lil inside story

  3. jenglot to give me the location of this place? I want to check out the cups, just the cup, thank you.

  4. Anuar

    Glitters cafe at 5th floor Pavilion. Next to ticket counter (left side) just walk all the way to the back. I’ll saw them using la cimbali.

  5. Anuar

    had lunch there this afternoon, food ok la. I heard that they had promotion for RM 1.00 cappuccino at GSC Pavilion & GSC Garden (mid valley) till end april. Very nice Electra machine at the entrance of GSC Garden.

  6. Jim

    haha true true, I myself is a Starbucks part timer there, they seriously dont have qualified barista though, you cant find nice froathing now a days.
    By the way, Chan about the crema thing. I believe if it’s more than like 15 seconds sure there’s crema there isn’t it? Cuz what I usually saw is that if it’s less than 18 seconds then it also have crema right?

  7. Michael D'Alessandro

    Hi kfchan

    I have recently joined the Illy Espressamente group here in Malaysia as the Group’s Training Manager and have just come across your blog on our cafe in Pavilion. I have been a Barista for many years and have spent the past 4 years in London running coffee schools for another large Italian coffee company.

    I must apologise for the bad experience you got at our bar as I understand the frustration when you get an espresso with a lack of crema or no sweet microfoamed milk on your cappuccino.

    I will admit, we had an issue with this consistency, however, we are making good progress to ensure all our customers coffee expectations are met through continued coffee training schools with myself. I would think that the lack of crema you had on your espresso was actually more likely due to an incorrect grind rather than the beans being stale as with the amount of coffee we produce daily, new coffee tins are regularly being opened. With fresh coffee, the whole shot should look like good crema whilst it brews. With stale coffee, you usually see a thinner head of foam settling as the shot is pouring.

    The issue with 100% arabica beans is that due to its low caffeine content and higher aromatic oil quantity, even a slightly course grind, or light tamp or using a cold cup will seemingly produce from afar a good extraction, however the result will produce a lack of crema and a weak, sour coffee. But when extracted correctly, you experience a sweet, full bodied espresso with a fragrant aroma that is the trademark of the Illy brand and something that must be experienced.

    As a trainer I understand the struggles with ensuring consistency of quality on a regular basis, however, when our customers are paying good money for something, there can be no excuses. We are well on the way to ensure anyone who is behind our coffee machine understands exactly how to pull that great espresso and texture milk for that perfect latte and anything less is not good enough.

    We are not a Starbucks who in reality, is more about the people than the coffee, we are a specialist coffee bar who are as much about the coffee as the people. That is why anything less is not good enough. The re-foaming milk issue is something that we have stamped out as this is not acceptable in our establishment. Any staff members caught doing this in the future will need to drink the milk themselves!

    We are strongly committed to developing the quality of speciality coffee here in Malaysia and value any feedback from everyone. Its nice to hear that there is a number of coffee lovers in Malaysia (rather than just coffee drinkers) who care enough to demand that they get great coffee. It is this next generation that will inevitably grow a quality coffee culture in Malaysia.

    I urge you whether in our cafe or elswhere to return your espresso if there is no crema or no velvety microfoam on your latte or cappuccino.

    And yes, Dr Earnesto is a legend in the coffee world and our mission is to ensure his legacy continues on in our establishments. The next few weeks will see a big change in the cafe with a new revised menu coming into effect early May to include a wider choice of menu in line with the quality of the Illy name.

    To finish, I would like to invite Mr kfchan to meet me at Illy Espressamente whenever is suitable to try once again one of our coffee’s (I’m buying!) to see if you believe our quality has improved.

    For everybody else, I also hope to see you at Espressamente soon when you are next in Bukit Bintang to try it out for yourselves…….please do not hesitate to ask for me as I always enjoy sitting with other coffee enthusiasts. PS: Francis Francis machines available in store, and yes…..they are the best home espresso machine and the best value for rmoney…..welcome to try it out in our store!

  8. kfchan Post author

    Dear Michael,

    Thank you for taking time to explain the issue. I suppose consistencies and staff training are some of the most challenging part of making great coffee. I would love to try out the best Illy has to offer from a seasoned Barista like yourself. I will surely come and have a chat with you.

    I also notice you have another Kiosk on the upper floor. Where will you be most of the time?

    Hey, maybe our readers will even specifically ask for you when they visit Espressamente.

  9. Michael

    Hi kfchan,

    I will spending most of my days at the cafe on level 3 although I am occassionally in Bangsar at our HQ. Best to try and organise a time before you come (or just drop in if you are nearby and take the chance).

    I dont spend a lot of time at the kiosk at the moment, however we carry out our coffee training up there so when needed, I will also be up there.

    Our readers can definately ask for me if they want to chat about anything, but Im really confident that the boys behind the bar can make them a great coffee…….lets test them out!

  10. Pingback: Espressamente - An Improve Experience « Coffee in Malaysia

  11. Jeepy Thapa

    Dear Michael,

    Great work ! Great Job ! , man ! i am very happy to see you in this website with Espressmente illy .
    I am planning to open on every soon in Nepal . please keep on posting your feed back on illy .
    i am surely to come to KL and have a espresso in Espressmente illy and your buying for me .
    Hello from all of my boys , this year we plan to open 3 more illy espresso bar . hope your excited !

    Cheer;s !

    Jeepy Thapa

  12. Michael

    Hi Jeepy,

    Good to hear from you after so long. Maybe I will be able to take that trip back to Nepal soon to see you and the boys again. Im off to Trieste to spend a week at the Illy Coffee University on Saturday.

    Wish you all the best for your future ventures and hope that you are still practising!!

    Sorry to all for using this blog to catch up with an old friend!!

  13. Michael

    Dear Saicek

    If you are seriuos about the franchise of the Illy kiosk, then yes it is a possibility for the future.

    Please drop in and see me some time even if just for a coffee.



  14. Bumi Ownz U

    After drinking an Illy’s cup of latte in a take away cup, I must admit.. this cup was worth the money i paid for it.

    For one, I hate starbucks and coffee bean. The coffee produced at these “cafes” are too commercialised, overly dredged in milk and poor quality poor tasting…

    By far the best coffee in KL.. visit Illy’s … you may notice alot of the foreign crowd flocking to this store because its as close to a decent cup of coffee as you will get in KL!

    More chain stores PLEASE!!!!!

  15. Santo's Brother

    Hey Mic…..I n Roy doesnt knw bout this issues….when is this happen..???….im glad to see our customers feedback here….i hope…im as ur barista will make a good name bout our coffee….n make sure bring back all our customers back to illy….. Guyz..!!!!…..Illy is the Best…!!!!….plz do come again to our outlet to have the “Heaven Of Coffee”…..We will quaranteed that….especially the honourable Mr KfChan….Plz do come n meet us again…..I will do the best art in a cup of cappucino 4 u……Tq guyz…….The Barista..(Vin Santo)…..

  16. naqi

    mister…u arrogantly speaks about coffee but you have no sense of appreciation to coffee.illy is known for its distinct taste. is this place something new to you? because,illy coffee is serve widely world wide and this place is consider an embassy of illy coffee. u cant compare starbucks with this,its gourmet coffee. some sort of fine dining for coffee.i dont xpect you to understand it. coffee bean stinks and starbucks is even worst. ur comparing to a fast coffee. eg, CB use powder starbucks use gel-like substance for their venti frapp. do the match dude

  17. kfchan Post author

    Hello Naqi,

    Of course I should not have to compare Espressamente Illy to Starbucks lah. Isn’t that exactly the point? When it can be compared to Starbucks, it means that it has failed to lived up to the expectation and standards of the illy legacy.

    Many cafes served crap coffee using illy beans or perhaps you were not aware?

    You expect Espressamente to be praised just because the name “illy” is there? No. They need to do a good job in serving illy coffee first. And they have done so for quite some time. You did not read the follow-up issit? Next time, check the whole story before firing away.

  18. Wee Chuan

    Hi Ethan,

    It is not just tamping only, it is also abt the grind size, distribution, brewing temp & consistent barista technique. All these variables need to click in order to get the elusive shot.

    Also, the freshness & quality of coffee does play a big role in the cup.

  19. Ethan

    Thanks Wee Chuan ๐Ÿ™‚ I just brought the Krups expresso machine to play with. Kind of novice you can said ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Sofi

    Hi Michael,

    I have been to espressamente and I am a big fan. I love the coffee cocktails. I would just like to inquire, I plan to open up a coffee house within the next few months. I am considering serving Illy coffee. How will I go about doing that? Is there someone I can contact?

  21. Wee Chuan

    If you are thinking of serving Illy coffee, then the distributor to contact is Classic Coffee (formerly known as Simplex Maju). If you need help or consultation in setting-up & barista training, you can look for KF & I.

  22. ezra limm

    Dumb question. Is there anywhere where I could get some malaysian coffee beans? Green. Unroasted. Just processed and graded from the farms.

  23. Average Joe

    Ezra Limm,

    Not everybody are smart like you or at least pretending to be one. By the way, we, miss at lowyat ๐Ÿ˜›

  24. illy coffee fan

    Hi Sir , do u really believe that the crema is due to the extraction time, quality of the bean or the bean roasting to determine the extration time? I disagree with your statement and so unprofessional……

    Base on my understanding
    – each type of bean ( illy / starbuck ….) they have their standard extraction time for assuring perfect espresso.
    – it is impossible – the longer of the extraction time which will produce more crema…. for certain bean like starbuck – if the extraction time is 20-30 second which will burn…..
    – Milk Frothing – I believe that u are aware of the quality milk in Malaysia which is not consistent…. therefore, the foam will vary from time to time.

    I do hope that you can provide accurate infor for not misleading the coffee lover- be smart and pls do not over smart.

    Are you a certified barista from which uni / school ? Pls advise


  25. kfchan Post author

    Dear illy fan,

    Over here we love constructive criticism.
    Looking back, I have to admit my mistake in relating crema to extraction time. Today, after tonnes of theory and practical research, I would say the primary contribution to good crema in arabica bean is FRESHNESS. Though quality of roasting and actual differences in the green beans will contribute to the quality (or lack of) of crema in the espresso. Of course barista skills in espresso preparation is a factor too.

    BUT, the primary factor is freshness. Using fresh roasted beans (less then 1 month from roasting), even a very average barista will be able to pull an espresso with decent amount of crema. So, the lack of crema in Starbucks or in illy coffee, most likely will be the LACK of FRESHNESS.

    As far as milk is concern, yes.. our milk here lack quality. The taste in different types and brand differs a lot. But if anyone failed to texture their milk properly, just admit to the lack of skills or perhaps they make a mistake on that day lah. No need to blame the milk lah. (Exception: your milk is spoiled or near the end of its life-cycle) Furthermore, every cappuccinos I had at espressamente for the past one year has been expertly textured. Don’t tell me suddenly the milk in Malaysia just improved, ok.

    I always endeavor to provide as accurate as possible any information I post.

    Now.. back to you.
    Since you also seem like a person who wanted to be smart but not overly smart, and since you also like to question my credential, please answer these two following questions:

    1. Are you a “Certified” Barista? (From where?)
    2. Which Uni or school’s credentials to you recognized?

    It is meaningless to ask me my credential if you are ignorant.

  26. wei

    Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Wei from Sarawak ,Bintulu.
    I know about this illy coffee for few year. I like this coffe much. Now i’m planning to open a small buiness ( cafe & dessert ). I want illy coffee to be one of the choice at my list. Can you help me? What should i do? Who can i contact with?
    Thank you.

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