Malaysian Coffee Scene

Updated: 31 Mar 2012 | By:

When I was young, I distinctly recall stealing the odd sip of my parent’s kopi-o. I was always fascinated with this flavorsome dark liquid. As I grew up, those sips soon turned into frequent trips to the local kopitiams – a weekend setting nearly every family in Malaysia has grown accustomed to. Fond memories of the strong and fragrant brews, toasted bread and half-boiled eggs always brightened my day and probably that of every other like-minded Malaysian.

While our kopitiams are still firmly rooted in Malaysian hearts, the coffee scene in the country has grown tremendously in the past 15 years or so. Coffee culture in Malaysia can be traced to as far back as the 1800s, but it was really in the 1990s when it truly blossomed as a trend. The ever popular commercial chains such as Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf invaded our shores and it was literally overnight that these chains became a staple. These outlets became the ‘in’ places to hang out, be seen have a good chat accompanied by one’s favourite beverage.

Recent years have seen a further expansion in this trend, with the booming of home-grown franchises and gourmet outlets serving everything from ‘Italian-style’ coffee to intriguing specialty coffees, brewed with beans from every corner of the world. It is now that we are truly blessed to be exposed to such a wide variety of coffee from the humble single origin to estate blend from around the world. How else would I have recently chanced upon Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and fallen deeply in love?

As the appreciation of coffee continues to grow, so too does the quest for knowledge. Coffee education schools are springing up like mushrooms or rather, beautiful coffee cherries, and exposing Malaysians to a myriad of coffee preparation methods, lots of history and bean options.  Many a consumer is no longer content with instant coffee and now craves for the experience as well as flavour produced by complex espresso machines to the delicate French presses that can be operated from the comfort of ones home.  

A wise Italian man once said, coffee should never be drunk alone. While there’s great personal pride to be gained in making a great ‘cuppa’, coffee houses are still the epitome of passion for this drink and a much-sought-after social aspect of our life. It is to this end that our home-grown coffee baristas have come a long way from being merely figures behind the bar to being true coffee connoisseurs, skillfully preparing our coffee just the way we like it!

I’m a Malaysian consumer and one that is thankful for the variety of ways I now get to enjoy this mystical cherry that Kaldi once fed his herd of goats in the Arabian pasture. The evolution of our local coffee culture is indeed globalisation at its best!

Tags: trend