Category Archives: Barista

Good Espresso exist in Malaysia


Almost 2 year ago, I say that Good Espresso In Malaysia virtually does not exist.

Time for a revision.

Since then, I have had quite a few good to great espressos. Mostly home brewed. Supremo Blend from Highlander Coffee has been giving me consistenly above average espresso. Then there is the Epic Blend. My all-time favourite.

But the problem is where in a commercial settings in Malaysia can you find good espresso. Since I sold my Baby, I’ve been having espresso withdrawal symptoms. I’ve been surviving on Aeropress only. Aeropress has been great. But I miss the intensity of a shot of espresso.

Well, I happened to be in Pavilion earlier and drop by Espressamente for an espresso. Wow! It was good. Intense, sweet, nutty, pleasant acidity and very flavourful. Maybe it’s because I have not had a decent espresso for more than a month. Or maybe it was just simple good. My espresso was pulled by Waran, definately one of the best barista around.

So, as of now, for a good shot of espresso in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, visit Espressamente Illy in Pavilion.

Coffee With Moses Chan


Updated with new Photos
Check out another angle from WeeChuan.

In case some of you still do not know, there is an excellent program about coffee on Astro channel 311.

It’s Coffee Confidential with Moses Chan: 9 episodes, every Sunday at 9pm. If you are fans of Hong Kong Series, you will know that Moses Chan is one of the very popular star in recent times. He is a coffee enthusiasts. His program introduces coffee from the basic to the complex, from the farm to the cafe. I think it is an excellent development of coffee exposure to the Malaysian Public. Check out Wee Chuan’s blog, he will probably give a summary of every episode.

But somethine even better happened. Astro manage to arrange for Moses to have a Coffee Forum in Malaysia. And I was privilage to be invited as one of the panel.

So, last Saturday at Berjaya University College of Hospitality, I was having coffee with Moses Chan. Astro organized the event and on the panel was Moses, Sum Leong and yours truly. The EmCee was Vivian Tok. There were about 40 students and invited guests in the audience.


Well, this is as close as I have ever get to a celebrity 🙂
We must be laughing over some bad coffee experience.


Here is Ms. Sum Leong, the other panelist. She is demonstrating how to brew coffee using a Syphon Device. Sum Leong has a small cafe in Shaw Parade, Pudu.


Sharing freshly brewed Sumatra beans. Not bad at all.


Moses and I were asked to demonstrate making espresso and cappuccino.
Well, you can see where all the attention goes to lah 🙂

Hopefully this little program will see air-time over in Astro. When I get the schedule, I’ll let eveyone know.

About Moses
He is a friendly guy. That is not a surprise at all. Trained in the art of PR. But make no mistake, he knows about coffee. That means what you see in his program is not just someone reading from a script.

He is a barista too. Better than most behind the bar in any cafe in Malaysia for sure. During the demo, he paid attention to grind adjustment, paid attention to extration rate, froth milk correctly on the 3rd attempt and manage to pour latte art too.

In the private interview after the forum, he told of his experience with kopi luwak. I assure you that he was being very courteous during the filming with regards to kopi luwak. Very courteous and polite.. if you know what I mean 🙂

Hey, he owns an Aeropress too. And he also gave me a copy of his program “Coffee Confidential” on a copy-protected and autographed DVD.

Coffee Scenes in Malaysia
As far as promoting quality gourmet coffee is concern, more exposure, education and publicity is needed. We as consumers (especially those who love coffee) MUST demand quality from anyone attempting to sell us coffee that cost more than RM4.

Why? Well, even gourmet coffee are consider cheap as far as raw material is concern. Most single shot of espresso cost no more than 50 cents. Many are even cheaper and even the more expensive ones cost no more than a ringgit. I’m willing to pay Rm10 for a cappuccino only if they are well made. A well made cup of cappuccino requires good beans, good machine, good milk, good environment and GOOD SKILLS. All these things cost money. Any cafe who does not spend money on all these good requirements has no right to charge you even RM4 for a lousy cup of coffee.

Berjaya University College of Hospitality
The Espresso Machine is in a sad condition. Dispersion screen probably block. Gasket dying and water is leaking during extraction. How do you expect good barista to come out from there? They make us a pot of french press using the very “expensive” Jamaican Blue Mountain beans. Ughhhh… STALE. Funnily, the few cups very given to the audience. Lucky for Moses, he didn’t manage to taste it. One last cup available, I took a sip…. yup… taste as stale as it smelt.

‘Nuff Said.

Caffeinees


Went with Wee Chuan to Caffeinees for a relaunch of their Coffee Initiative.

Check out the proper reporting with photos from Wee Chaun’s post.

We had a good chat with Chris, the owner about Caffeinees’ commitment to offer quality coffee to the market. Obviously, commitment to the training of barista is crucial to improve the quality of coffee.

When we talk about the quality of Coffee, let us narrow down to the few crucial factors in Malaysia.

1. Freshness of coffee
Actually, when it comes to the raw material, it is not just the freshness. The qualilty of the coffee beans, roasting quality and blends, all play a crucial part in the final output of “Fresh roasted, good quality blend” of coffee. But with the reality of the Malaysia environment, pushing the bar too high would be meaning less.

At Caffeinees, they brought in green arabica bean and roast it themselves. There are surely a lack of science, technology and art in the roasting and blending process. But I am happy that at least there is a consistent supply of FRESHLY ROASTED COFFEE. Crema is rich and certainly a very decent cup of cappucino can be done.

2. Barista skills
With the utter lacking of Barista’s skills in almost 99% of all the cafes in Malaysia, anyone who pays attention to good Barista’s skills can offer us a cup of decent coffee. And for any cafe owner who appreciate the value of proper Barista’s skills should be complemented.

And for this reason, I am glad that Chris is committed to the training of barista in his cafe. After all, there is no magic you can do to produce a good cup of coffee if the barista don’t even know how to produce microfoam in the milk frothing process.

3. Espresso Machine and Grinder
This is a area that really seems to be irrelevant to us. Most of the restaurant who offered Italian style coffee have good espresso machine and grinder. In fact, many over paid their machines. They pay few thousands ringgit extra just to have a good looking machine while the barista can only produce crap. Save the few thousands and spent it on Barista Training lah for coffee sake. Just take a look at that extreamly sexy machine in J Co. Donut and Coffee. A state-of-the-art, 3-group Nuova Simonelli Aurelia. It’s like having an F1 race car driven by me (I wanted to say Alex Yoong, but actually, even though Alex Yoong is not great among F1 drivers, but he is actually a professional driver who is way better then any drivers you met on the road.)

So, if you got chance, drop by Caffeinees for a cuppa. Their food there is also quite decent.

Cheers.

Espressamente Illy @ Pavilion with Andrea Illy


Espressamente Illy in Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur is one of my favourite place for coffee.

And yesterday (Friday the 3rd, 2009), with a personal invitation from Michael, went there to witness a special event.

Andrea Illy, the President and CEO of illycaffè was there for a press conference.

Founded in 1933 by Francesco Illy, illycaffè produces and sells a unique single blend of premium quality coffee worldwide.

Make no mistake, illycaffè as a company has done tremendous job in educating  and promoting premuim arabica blend of coffee to the public. Their research facility is probably one of the biggest in the world. They even have a University of Coffee as a training institute.

Though among coffee geeks, many tend to whacked them for their apparent lack of freshness in their beans on retail, I can’t really fault them for it. If you want to market worldwide, mass production, storage, international shipping… it is virtually impossible to offer fresh roasted coffee (or anything less than a month). But they did try their best in attempting to preserve freshness. Their 3kg tin of illy coffee apparently has undergone much scientific research to ensure minimal degradation of bean quality.

(But frankly, trying to prevent degradation of roasted coffee beans is like trying to prevent human aging. We all hope for breakthough but it is not happening.)

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Providore @ Solaris


Good Espresso and cappuccino is so hard to find in Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur and PJ included) that whenever someone recommend a cafe of good coffee, it’s hard not to check it out.

PROVIDORE,
13A Jalan Solaris 5,
Solaris Mont’ Kiara, Kuala Lumpur

It is quite easy to find, it is the same block facing Cold Storage.

Went there on Saturday with Wee Chuan. One of the reason why we wanted to give this place a try was because we  were told that providore served some decently fresh coffee from Australia, the Genovese Super Brazil.

Interestingly, on Genevose website, regarding the Super Brazil blend, they have these to say:

“Aside from the Barista and his capabilities,
the difference in producing the best in a cup of coffee
is in the blending and roasting, which take years to master.”

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Nuova Simonelli Oscar Espresso Machine


latest Update

April 2009 – Nuova Simonelli Oscar Specifications

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Updated: 13th Feb 2009

Look at what our friend from Penang, Venky manage from the powerful Oscar:

venky1

venky2

Not bad man. Just to proof that if anyone has the passion and interest to learn, they can make a good cuppa 🙂

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Visited my friend Venky in Penang couple of weeks back. His long awaited Nuova Simonelli Oscar Espresso Machine has just arrived. This is what you call a Prosumer Machine, meaning for Professional Consumer. Whereas, the Gaggia Baby that I have or the Rancilio Silvia are known as consumer machine / home machine.

Do not be misled by its small size. This Oscar is capable to adequately serve most small cafes in Malaysia. In fact many small cafes over-spent on a commercial 2 group stainless steel machine cost in excess of RM15K and make less than 50 cups of coffee a day.

This baby here can handle easily 100 cups throughout the day. But of course, this is a machine with a 2.# liter water tank inside (commercial machines are plumbed-in), and you need to refill the water if the traffic is high. But then, what’s wrong with manually filling water couple of times a day if it save you more than RM7,000++.

oscar1 mazzer-mini
Oscar with a silver ABS plastic body. It is heavy but not too heavy. Can be carried by a single adult. Combine with a Mazzer Mini, good and fresh coffee beans and proper skills… excellent espresso is achievable consistently.

oscar2
Only 2 buttons. One to power on, the other to start and stop the brewing process. The big knob there is for steam.

oscar3
Fully commercial grade 58mm portafilter and a 4 holes steam wand. The Oscar, being a heat-exchange machine, can steam on demand. With a 2.* litre boiler inside, you have no worry of running out of steam. In fact, the steam is so powerful, I need a few tries before adjusting to it.

One downside to this machine, if you have not notice by now, there is no hot water dispenser. Well, I suppose this is a concern one need to consider. The reason the Oscar is priced so low for it’s capabilities, something has to give. Hence, no stainless steel body and no hot water dispenser. For extra RM2K, you can get a La Scala Butterfly with sexy stainless steel body and water dispenser too.

For me, to get hot water, buy a RM200 thermos would solve all the problem.

oscar4
Finally, here’s a couple of cappuccinos made with Highlander’s Supremo Blend, brewed and frothed with Simonelli Oscar. With the current fluctuating exchange rate, you can get the Oscar for around RM5.5K to RM6K.

Barista Jam


Couple of weeks ago, we had a Barista Jam at Irving’s place. He is the proud owner of a new Rancilio Silvia and Compak Doserless grinder.

Also there were Weechuan, Joseph and myself. I shall let the photos speak for themselves.

silvia compak

silvia-and-compak

I am so envious my friend. Rancilio Silvia is one of the all time best home espresso machine. It beats my Gaggia Baby D without a blink. Though Silvia is more expensive (around RM2600 if you have the right connections), it is truly a worthwhile investment. Here are 3 top reasons why Silvia is better than any Gaggia’s home machine:-
1. Silvia with Brass Boiler vs Gaggia with Aluminium Bioler
2. Silvia’s boiler is 12oz vs Gaggia’s boiler is 3.5oz
3. Silvia’s powerful steam vs Gaggia’s pathetic steam

Okay. Those are the 3 photos I took with my pathetic digital camera. What you see after this are the excellent photos taken by Joseph, a professional photographer with a REAL camera 😀

bj-leveling bj1-tamping1
Levelinga nd tamping. Crucial steps to perform correctly in preparing espresso.

bj1 bj1-ending
Look at the crema of freshly roasted coffee.

bj1-weechuan
Wee Chuan holding up a shot of espresso.

bj-milk
Wee Chuan distributing velvety microfoamed milk.

bj-latteart bj-latteart1
Did I mentioned that Wee Chuan is a Latte Artist?

bj-latteart2
Too good to drink? Given a choice, would you want these or $bucks?

bj-aeropress1 bj-aeropress2
Really affordable way to enjoyed freshly roasted coffee.

bj-aeropress The Aeropress Way

bj-team
All coffee lovers here (and a cute coffee lover in training?) and Joseph is behind the lens.