Category Archives: Coffee Beans

Coffee in Kuching


Had my first trip to Kuching to visit my friend “Ralph the Bear”.

Surprisingly, Kuching is quite a vibrant city. I didn’t really have much chances to visit many coffee place. Lot’s of drinking-holes though.

But luckily, I did manage to visit THE COFFEE PLACE in Kuching.

B L A C K  B E A N  C O F F E E  & Tea Company


My Delightful cup of Sumatera Mandhling. Brewed by a forgettable Super-Auto machine.
But the coffee is as fresh as you can get. Just a few days after roasting.  Flavourful, clean, full body as a Sumatera should be. Just shows the skills of the hands that does the roasting.

How is it done? Let’s see what is happening  at the back of the cafe.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But a Video may also worth a thousand pictures.

And who is the Sifu behind the BEANS?


Mr. Chang of Black Bean Coffee.


It is a Delightful Little Place. Homely and Cozy.


My pack of Sumatera


The Bear, The Man and The Boy?

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Black Bean Coffee. Reputed to be the best roasted in the whole of Borneo, it is not without it’s challenges. Supply of good quality local Liberica and Robusta is lacking. Import of good quality Arabica is difficult and expensive. When will we see good times in our Coffee Industry? When can we get rid of these AP matter on importing green beans? Sigh… We need a really really BIG CHANGE in Malaysia.

My special thanks to Ralph the Bear for his excellent hospitality. He’s an excellent cook and well verse in the world of wines, vodka and whiskey. I have never had so many different types of drinks in a single day.

Here are some lovely food from the Bear’s Lair.


A 2 inches thick piece of freshly chopped and marinated steak.


The first time I had mine Medium Raw.

And that is my weekend of coffee, wines, vodka, whiskey and steak.

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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.

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.

dr.CAFE @ Solaris


Update:

This is like a quiz. Anyone can tell from the procedures below, what did they do WRONG.
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Happenned to be at Solaris, Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur today and saw a nice looking cafe.

dr.CAFE
“The best coffee in the world”

That of course is their Tag line lah.

They originate from Saudi Arabia.

It was very well decorated. And they sells some very interesting stuff… mugs, cups, thermos, thermometer, french presses, drip coffee makers and ready for this… The Eva Solo coffee maker.

The Eva Solo is a really cool and sexy looking coffee brewer man. Wee Chuan should really do a review on it.

The pastry bar looks good but I can’t be spending so much on them. You guys give them a try and tell me if they are really as good as they look, ok.

They also have quite a selection of single origin whole beans. Guatemala. Costa Rica, Sumatra, Ethiopia, Columbian and their own espresso blend too. And surprising there is “manufacturing date” on the packaging.

The “manufacturing date” is SURPRISE! SURPRISE! July 2009!!!!

JULY 2009!!!

Can you believe that?

Ok, I thought to myself, if the “manufacturing date” (which I hope it really meant roasting date) is only 2 months old, maybe the coffee should be pretty good.

So I ordered an espresso and cappuccino. From the way I was looking through, they asked if I’m a coffee lover and i answered affirmatively. I ask the barista how many seconds is their standards of espresso extraction and he says 17 to 23 seconds. O-Oh… red flag… then i remind myself, “Don’t be so judgemental. Even Barista Competition also states between 18 to 26 seconds. See first”.

Then I stand right next to the espresso machine and squeezed myself into the corner to take a good look at the preparation process. I have my camera out and ready to snap some pic.

But alas, the “barista” says.. no, no… cannot take pic and point me to the “no camera” sign. Sigh… ok.

Well, if I’m not allowed to take pic, all my attention will be on how he is going to prepare my drinks.

Here’s the procedure:-

1. Pour milk into pitcher (30oz pitcher I think)
2. Flush the portafilter with hotwater.
3. Immediately dose into it.
4. Tamp, knock-knock, tamp again.
5. Lock in the portafilter to the group head.
6. Start frothing milk
7. Finish frothin milk
8. Start brewing from the portafilter in step 5.
9. Sink the shots and try again saying the shots is not good.
10. Repeat steps 2 to 5 and 8 again.
11. Repeat step 9 for two more times.
12. Colleague comes and do steps 2, 3, 4, 5 and 8.

Then serves me the espresso. I took a sip and walk to the other side on the counter when they gave me my cappuccino.

Espresso: Lack of crema (doesn’t look like a 2 months old beans), bitter and burnt taste.

Cappuccino: Hard foam on top. I took a careful sip and OUCH… burnt my tongue. Wow!!! Remember the milk already done at step 7. How in the world it can still burn my tongue I cannot tell. Did they re-froth the milk while I was walking around the counter? I don’t know but one patch of my tongue just lost sensation.

If you guys are going there, do tell of your experience.

Btw, Free Wifi available and the seats are REALLY comfortable.

Signature Drink


What is better than Kopi Luwak?

After Kopi Luwak, it’s time for some “better” drink?

This is the Signature Drink (Coffee Beverage) with slight modification I used for the Barista Competition recently.


Of couse, it is made from the ever reliable Oscar Professional Espresso Machine.


Here is the SECRET ingrediant.


With some cream + brown sugar.


Some fresh Supremo Blend


Dosed… 18g


Tamped.


Tiger Stripping


Look at the crema!!!


Frothing the milk. Pleanty of steam from the Oscar.


A Heart


A Rosetta.


It is good…


It’s an EYE OPENING YUMMY EXPERIENCE.

Kopi Luwak


At last, a chance to try the infamous Kopi Luwak.

Our friend, Dennis got me some Kopi Luwak from Indonesia. According to his “Reliable Source”, it is the real deal. It was given to him as a gift.

So, in double-quick time (6 hours period), got a few guys to come over to my place for tasting session. At around 8.30pm we  have Dennis the Menace, Ralph the German Bear, Marcus Aurelius + Wife and Kid, Me + my Home Minister ready to see what so great about Kopi Luwak.


70g of Kopi Luwak. They are properly processed. Washed and Roasted plainly. Some find the aroma chocolaty with slight sweetness. No horrid smells.


When you have the Emperor Marcus himself waiting, the barista also sweating lah.


The Home Ministers also giving you the look “This better be good. We don’t want no shity smelling coffee”


Pouring freshly ground Kopi Luwak into the Aeropress


Pouring hot water into the Aeropress. Temperature around 90 celcius I guess.


Stiring well to make sure all the coffee ground is saturated with hot water.


Carefully pressing down the pump.


Extract it carefully into a milk pitcher.


Hey photographer, focus on the coffee lah.


Quiet! The Emperor having the first sip.


Hey, the Princess says it is GOOD.


Errr… maybe Kids really shouldn’t have coffee eh.


No kidding

Well, I actually made 3 rounds of Aeropress coffee using different beans just to make sure their minds are not bias in anyway (don’t want them to be influenced by the reputation of kopi Luwak).

In fact everyone like the Kopi Luwak. It is earthy, full body, no bitterness. Personally I find it surprisingly pleasant. Then I ask the very important question, “Would you pay USD30 for a cup of Kopi Luwak or even RM30 for that cup?”

And everyone answers “NOOOOOO”.

Frankly, it is a decent cup of coffee. Whether you like it or not depends on your taste preference. I would prefer some Ethiopia. I would not pay more then RM10 for a cup. And it does taste better than those Kopi-O Kosong-type you find in regular kopitiam.

Next: My Signature Drink.

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.


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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.