Category Archives: Barista

Really Good Espresso in Malaysia


I said that good espresso in Malaysia virtually DOES NOT EXIST go in year 2007.

It’s time to update the list. It is good to say that after more then 2 years since, there have been some improvement in the local GOURMET coffee scene.

Well, I have to say that I am regularly having very decent and good espresso. That is because I am making them myself. But we must understand that brewing coffee the espresso method is very different from other brewing methods. And it is one of the most expensive way to brew coffee.

You will need a decent espresso machine (not those toys you find in electronic shops), a decent grinder (again, not those toys in the electronic shops), good quality fresh roasted beans and good barista skills. Without these 4 elements, you will not get good espresso.

Good espresso is flavourful. Notes of chocolates, nuts, citrus fruits like orange and berries can be experienced. Do not be surprised (or maybe you should be surprised) if you even taste sweetness which I have had many times with good espresso. Usually too with subtle bitterness. Notice the word “subtle”. BITTERNESS is not a PRIMARY profile of good espresso… in fact, any high quality good coffee is not bitter at all. Merely subtle.

Hey, all you Home Barista… are you guys and gals enjoying good espresso at home? Tell us more about your good and great espresso moment.

Ok… back to the list. I can say that for myself, I have only tasted good espresso in two commercial settings.

Cafe Departure Lounge
I love their espresso from their House Blend. BUT be warned… It is on the acidic side of things. It is bright, fruity and sweet. Brightness is not something most people like in their coffee. I urge you to give them a try. Their coffee is fresh and roasted by the excellent people of Five Senses Coffee, Australia.

Espressamente
The only place I know that serves illy the way it should be served. Love their “mafia-Corleone-family” gang of baristas.  A well made illy espresso is chocolaty, nutty and sweet. Had one recently pulled my Roy-Corleone 😀

Anymore cafe out there serving good espresso??? To cafe owner, if you are serving good espresso, do let me know.

The Barista
If you are going to either of the two cafes, always ask for the name of the barista. If you find someone who can pull you a good shot of  espresso, remember their name man. These people are hard to find.

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A Departure From The Norm


Finally, coffee worth raving about. For a departure from the norm, I would say my new favourite coffee cafe is Malaysia is… Departure Lounge.

What is so special about Departure Lounge? Actually for a cafe, their concept is quite special. It’s a place for you to wait/hang out before boarding your flight. Departure Lounge Cafe put on display tonnes of books. What kind of books? Well, not comic, not FHM, not girlie magazines, not IT/PC/Tech/Gadgets, not automotive. There are all books on TRAVELS. In fact, it is a perfect place to to your research if you plan to visit any counties out there.

I’ve known Departure Lounge Cafe for years. Though their sandwich and food are decent, nothing much to shout about their coffee though. So, what has changed? For your info, they have 2 outlets. One in Solaris, and the new one is in Damansara Uptown. My happy experience was at Uptown.

Ok, I know you are still waiting… What has changed.

They are now serving COFFEE from FIVE SENSES.

I wrote about my“epiphany moment” with Epic here.

Five Senses roast some of the best coffee in Australia. I was introduced to Five Senses by Simon. Hey Simon, you may want to come to KL more often now.

Back to Departure Lounge.

Departure Lounge Cafe - Counter

The Counter

asd

Very interesting breakfast menu.

Travels Research

For those who plans to travel or dreams of travelling.

Coffee you want to try

Here they are.

Tried 3 drinks.

1. Ethiopian Yirgacheffe – Americano
They called it Lungo or Long Pull, which is not an accurate way to describe it. In fact, I wouldn’t want it if they are pulling it long. But as Americano, is is a lovely cup of coffee. My wife immediately found the “lychee” notes. I find it sweet and refreshing.

2. House Blend – Double Espresso
Very bright at first sip. The Acidity is pronounced. Yet at the same time, good body and SWEET with delicate hints of citrus. A very pleasant after taste too.
House Blend Double Espresso

3. House Blend – Cappuccino
I was wondering if such a bright acidic coffee would taste good with milk.  And it does. Sweet with hints of chocolate. They make with double ristretto. Another indication of decently trained barista… the milk was nice frothed.

This is the first time in Malaysia that I have the real urge to go back to any cafe for their coffee.

Location:
Damansara Uptown: 10, Jalan SS21/39, Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Solaris: 10, Jalan Solaris 4, Solaris Mont’ Kiara, Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: 8am to 7pm. Sunday closed at 5pm.

Learn how to brew coffee using many methods


You don’t need to invest thousands of ringgit to enjoy good coffee in Malaysia or anywhere in the world. Unless of course, if you want to enjoy good espresso in Malaysia, then a few thousands ringgit investment is required.

Aeropress, French Press, Moka Pot, Syphon, Drip and many other methods allow you to make nice tasty coffee at home.

Check out this posting from Mr. Cheah and learn of the many cool brewing methods with tips from many professional barista around the world.

An Epic Experience at Epic Espresso


The Epic Espresso Blend has been one of my favourite espresso blend for quite some time. And of course, I had Simon to thank for introducing this lovely coffee to me. And being the true fan of Epic himself, he went to visit EPIC for a coffee spree. Below are the accounts from the man himself:

Adventure at Epic

Finally, after years of drinking the Epic Blend, I am finally visiting the famous café in Western Australia. Can Epic lives up to its tremendous reputation?

We were greeted with the fresh aroma of coffee even as we got off our car. The café is small and sits about 25 inside and another 10 outside. It spots a cool blend of retro and contemporary design. Nothing beats the industrial sound of human and machine combining to make great espresso.


KF Chan: note the price. very cheap if you are an Australian

Since the walkway between the bar and seating areas was quite small I was not able to observe the baristas in action. A few things I noticed though:

  • Every milk drink has latte art
  • They use the huge Synesso machines and Mazzar Robur grinders
  • The baristas adjusted the volume of the milk before doing free style latte art
  • They used the Greg Pullman tamper – and I found out later that the design was a collaboration between Greg and Epic.

Mr & Mrs Simon

First batch order – 1 Flat White, 1 Ristretto, 1 Latte, 1 Piccolo Latte and Affogato. The moment of truth as our orders arrived. The following comments were drinks ordered and consumed by me:
KF Chan: Greedy fella. Consume all by yourself??? Your wife just watch and take photos issit 😀

Flat White

No Sugar Needed

No Sugar Needed

Flat White – 1 part espresso and 5 part milk – incredibly sweet without any sugar yet does not take anything away from the coffee. Best milk based drink I have ever tasted!

Ristretto

Ristretto – The “restricted” shot of about 18ml of double espresso, nice deep red and brown colour – the shot is very intense with caramelised sweet finish. There’s not a single hint of bitterness. Not something I will drink often but a showcase of how good the Epic Blend can be.
KF Chan: Are you sure 18ml for a double ristretto? A single espresso shot is 30ml. 18ml for a double is too short, right?

Latte

Piccolo Latte

Belgian Chocolate Couverture

Then we were offered the “Mojo” – a drink only offered by the Barista to their friends. The base was a single shot espresso, then filled with Belgian Chocolate Couverture and topped with another double shot espresso – then the drink was stirred – taste a bit like liquor chocolate.

Cappuccino

Cappuccino

Mocha

Mocha

The next day I came back (and actually the day after next as well) and I tried their Cappuccino and Mocha. I usually dislike Mocha because it can taste a bit bitter when not done properly. This version was superb and silky smooth although it can be a bit too sweet for those who are used to drinking coffee without sugar.

No Extra Hot

No Extra Hot

KF Chan: Don’t insult the barista by requesting your coffee “Extra Hot”

Truly Epic Café lives up to its considerable reputation. I went to the café three days in a row. There was a slight drop in the quality on day 3 (with a different crew) but overall they displayed an absolute master class in preparing espresso drinks. Three days and AUD150 (RM450) spent – it was a great experience. Epic claimed they could possibly be one of the best espresso café in Australia – based on my experience I would not disagree.

Thank you Simon for these lovely photos and memories.
Note to self: Must visit Epic before I go.

An Interview with Michael of Espressamente


I have known Michael since the early days of Espressamente Illy in Pavilion KL.

His passion and commitment to the running of Espressamente is an example that Cafes’ Owner should emulate.
– His dedication to the high standards of espresso preparation
– His priority in ensuring proper barista training
– His focus in Customers’ Satisfactions
– His willingness to share knowledge
– His readiness for constructive criticism

Espressamente is one of the VERY few cafes where REAL BARISTA works.

Check out the Interview of Michael D’Alessandro by Wee Chuan here.

FHM 2009 – My Favourite Event of the year


This FHM is not For Him Magazine.

FHM 2009 is the Malaysia’s Official Food and Hotel show. The previous show was in 2007.
The event held in KLCC Convention Centre on the 11th to 14th August 2009. For Trade Vistors only.

Of course what were really interesting to me are all those coffee players bringing their best for the show. Who was there? Barista Coffee, Bon Cafe, Classic Coffee and Beverage (previously Simplex Maju), Dankoff Coffee Specialist, Mister Coffee and a few smaller players.

Noticeable missing was Coffex Coffee. They had a pretty large booth in 2007.

There were others quite interesting showcase of food technology, pastry art, bakery course, equipments and many more. Of course, one gets to sample some pretty tasty food too.

Ok, back to coffee. Well, I drank quite a few cups of coffee… espressos, cappuccinos, hot chocolate…yum yum yum.

Here are some photos to tell the stories.


Expobar in action in Malaysia. Serving Lavazza. Lavazza is making a comeback too.


Expobar 2 group on display


Here is the Expobar G-10 Single group. Really glad to see the Expobar entering our market. Price is decent and if you have a good barista, it can make you very good coffee.


Nuova Simonelli Aurelia, Official Machine for the World Barista Championship


2 Group Aurelia. Really love the red colour. Really sexy but sexy stuff cost money.


2 Group Francis! Francis! A capsule machine. The IPERESPRESSO.


1 Group Francis! Francis! If all you want is convenience and very average espresso, Francis! Francis! will give you that and looks good at the same time.


The Pressto SuperAuto. Looks expensive. Didn’t bother asking about it. Will make your life easy if all you want is average coffee.


Avanti Espresso. I don’t dare to ask for a drink. First, in such a specialized exhibition with many competitors, and they used UHT milk!!! Not even in a chill box!!! And the espresso extractions I saw were mainly “gushers”.


Korean Stone Coffee Roaster. This guy is interesting. The only exhibitor showing a roasting machine and they were Roasting Coffee thoughout the event. This roaster cost USD5K.


***


Another interesting product. Rice Biscuit Maker. This machine can make a rice cracker using only 1 teaspoon of rice. And a rice cracker is produced every 10 seconds. Really cool man. Oh Yes… tasty and healthy too. Imgine they sell for maybe RM5 for 10 pieces. 10 pieces only uses 10 teaspoons of rice man. This machine cost USD5K.

Barista Jam @ Wee Chuan’s


Last Sunday we had another Barista Jam at Wee Chuan’s place.
These Photos will tell the story…


Dennis: “I can’t watch this”
Wendy & Joie: “Oooo… my knight in red armour making coffee for me”


Dennis: What are you looking at? Never drink good coffee before issit?”



Hmmm… Yummy looking espresso pouring like hot honey


Master Sifu showing us how to froth milk.


Here is a leaf and a tulip for the fair maidens.


Ana: I like coffee
Mun Shin: I like the photographer


Fernando and Wee Chuna. Two grown man drooling over a leaking LaMarzocco


Prozac = Happy pills
Coffee = Happy drinks
Which would you rather have?

The rest of the photos here.