A Brief History of coffee or kopi in Malaysia

I have always been thinking of doing a story on the History of our Malaysia coffee / kopi culture.

But thanks to Coffee Ritual, no need for me to do so.

Here’s the excerpt:

The roasted concoction mentioned above has creates a beverage known as kopi (coffee in Malay language). If you order a cup of kopi in a kopitiam, however you will ended up with a cup of milked coffee instead. How is this come about? This is a hint that initially the proprietor of the kopitiam did not feel comfortable with the concoction they have created to be served straight black. To hide any undesirable flavour in their kopi, they added lots of condensed milk (fresh milk is expensive). Hence, by default, kopi is served with milk. If you desire black coffee, you should order kopi-O, O is black in Hokkien, a Chinese dialect. Again, be aware that it is sweeten with sugar, the proprietor still find it uncomfortable to serve you a straight black unsweetened coffee. You must order kopi-O-kosong, kosong is “nothing” in Malay language, to get your black unsweetened coffee. Just a word of caution, if you are use to good quality arabica coffee and cannot settled for anything less, just avoid kopi-O-kosong.

Check them out.


17 thoughts on “A Brief History of coffee or kopi in Malaysia

  1. michael

    Hi Chan, I happened to see you getting some Jack & The Bean from Barista recently at FHM, any comment or review so far ?

  2. michael

    I was rushing that day and the booth was packed with visitors.
    I will definitely introduce myself when I bump into you next time ya!
    I went there again on the last day and all of them were sold out!
    Any idea where to get sweet espresso beans ?

  3. James

    Hi there,

    May i know that if the coffee bean no longer fresh then the grinder need to be adjust to more fine?
    How to determine how fine the coffee bean should have in order to make a nice shoot? Cause i keep on fail in extract a nice shoot in 23-25 seconds.


  4. Wee Chuan

    Hi, what espresso machine u using? There are many factors involved like:

    1. If the coffee beans is not so fresh, grind finer.

    2. Can the grinder grind fine enough for espresso? Don’t expect a cheap grinder can grind that fine, it will be dusts instead.

    3. Are you using a tamper & not plastic? If not the puck will not be tight enough to create the resistance for the water to go through.

    4. Are you dosing enough coffee into the portafilter? If too little coffee, same problem as above.

  5. kfchan Post author

    Dear James,

    Wee Chuan’s considerations are correct.

    But if the coffee is not fresh or stale already, there is no magic you can do. Even if you manage to extract the correct volume at 25 secs, the crema will be thin and weak.

  6. James


    Thanks for the replies 🙂

    Wee Chuan, i am using gaggia baby and the grinder i am using is Grinta Grinder. I’m using tamper aluminium.
    By the way, i had also done the timing setting on grinta for double shoot.
    When i jus get my coffee bean which is fresh, i can actually get a tasty espresso. But then i cant get the same result after 2 weeks later(extract the espresso at 18sec). Then i set the grinder to more fine but then the grinded coffee seem like too little. Just wonder why.
    ** Wee Chuan, i had visit your coffee rockstar 🙂 NICE BLOG!!!

    Chan, the freshness of the coffee bean can tahan how many weeks or even y..e..a..r..s ?
    Cause i just bought coffee bean from gloria jeans. Pack at 2009 and can tahan til 2010..
    Isit stil possible to extract a nice espresso?

    Thanks for the information very much.. Appreciate 🙂

  7. kfchan Post author

    Dear James,

    Freshness of coffee is measure from the roasting date. Not the packing date and certainly not the expiry date. Normally, I would consider the coffee is fresh up to 6 weeks from roasting but preferable not more than 4 weeks.

    Those expiry date is use to cheat people who don’t know better.

    Another thing. Once you open the bag of coffee, once they are exposed to oxygen, they start to deteriorate. I always keep my coffee in a vacuum container.

    If I open a bag of coffee that is 2 weeks from roasting and keep in my Vacuvin Container, it can last another 2 weeks.

    If your coffee is already not fresh to begin with, and you open and keep for 2 weeks, it is basically stale already. And I think you are not even storing in a vacuum container, right.

    In most circumstances, with most coffee, after 3 months.. it is unlikely that you can get a good extraction of espresso. FRESHNESS is most important.

    Btw, where you get your Grinta grinder?

  8. Wee Chuan

    James, like KF said, freshness of the coffee beans is very important in the 1st place before all other factors.

    Get fresher beans & you’ll b amazed by the result in the cup.

  9. Kelly Ng

    Hi 😀 Can i get some information with you? Regarding Malaysia coffee culture.
    If can, please email me ya ^^

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