Category Archives: Coffee Beans

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.

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.

Caffeine-free coffee


Coffee that is naturally Caffeine-free.

Charrier Coffee

Charrier Coffee. or Coffea charrieriana, is a “new caffeine-free coffee from Cameroon, the first record of a caffeine-free species from central Africa…In this case the new species could be used for breeding of naturally decaffeinated beans,” according to Arizona State University’s International Institute for Species Exploration (ASU)

Maybe in another 10 years, it will be commercially available.

Till then, good quality arabica beans are still the coffee with the lowest amount of caffeine.

Latte Art on Coffee


Not many cafes in Malaysia make their cappuccino or cafe latte with LATTE ART on them.

The word LATTE basically means MILK. So latte art means art made with milk.

Incidentally, many people went into Starbucks and asked for a latte not knowing that they were actually asking for MILK! Well, that how words lost their meaning. Perfectly meaningful words being mis-used. Back to the matter of latte art and cafes.

The only cafes I know of that serve their milk-based drinks with latte art are Espressamente Illy and Segafredo Espresso. And I don’t mean those cafes that shows us latte art only when interviewed by journalists or when they appear on media, or those where latte art only appears on their menu. Seems like Espressamente Illy and Segafredo Espresso cafes are the only that serves with latte art on a regular basis. Well, at least 8 out of 10 times is good enough for me.

Hey, if your cafe serves coffee with latte art, let me know. I want to come and try.

Note: let me qualify… when I say latte art, I meant those free pouring  latte art that shows a heart, an apple or a rosetta. NOT those who simple etched the surface with some chocolate sauce or colouring.

Is LATTE ART important to a cup of coffee? I assure you that latte art does enhanced that cup of coffee. How? Firstly, enjoying coffee is a sensory experience. It involve our whole senses. One of the very few things I like about Starbucks is how very cozy is their environment. (they can’t make a good cup of cappuccino if their lives is depending on it)  A nice cup of cappuccino with latte art shows how much care and details were put into making it.

Latte art on coffee basically enhances 2 aspects of consuming coffee. It is pleasant to the eyes and sweetly smooth on the tongue.

The fact that it is pleasing to the eyes is easy to understand, but there is another reason why it is lovely to the tongue.

In order to pour latte art like this picture (not by me unfortunately), the milk need to be correctly frothed. The stretching amd texturing must be well done and temperature must be ideal.

Actually, when you have correctly frothed milk, even without the art, it will still taste sweet and velvety.

And when you add the art, wow… that is a lovely coffee experience. With lovely milk and art, it can turn a lousy cup of coffee to be bearable. A bearable cup to average and an average cup of cofee to decent. And if you have quality fresh roasted coffee to begin with, you can get a GREAT cup of coffee.

Of yes, LATTE ART works on hot chocolate too.

Finally: don’t go and whacked the barista in Espressamente Illy or Segafredo Espresso if your cappuccino does not come with latte art , ok. Consider it a bonus. It is a difficult skills and take time to learn, practice and perfect.

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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DIY a Knockbox under RM10


This is a DIY project from our friend Irving.

knockbox2

knockbox1
This is what I call a savvy. I always have this admiration for people who can DIY. I’m really one of those DIY idiot who can seems to make anything with my hands.. except coffee 🙂

I remember when I was in secondary school, my best friend Oliver who is another DIY genius, gave me one of those air-craft model that came in many plastic pieces. I totally make a mess of it. My best result is an airplane similar to the one from LOST, if you know what I mean.

Ok, here’s the step to a functional and cheap knockbox.

From Irving:

Anyway, as promised, here are some pics of the knock box I’ve made for under RM10 I told you about. Here are the list of materials:
1) Swordman plastic container RM3.90
2) Handle of a cheap pine-wood spatula (Spatula costs about RM3 from pasar malam).
Problem is I’m not sure where to get them now
3) Rubber tube from a car door edge bumper – I replaced mine for RM6.90 (for 4),
and I used the old one for the knockbox. So you can say it’s RM1.75 for this

knockbox3
Knockbox in Action.

Hey Irving, make me one lah… pleaseeeee… I compensate with a pack of 250g Supremo blend ok ar?