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Best coffee shops in KL

Our critics pick the best coffee shops in KL that call the shots

KL's coffee culture is an expanding landscape of imported beans, state-of-the-art machines, hip baristas, and silky smooth pours. Here are the best coffee shops in KL that call the shots.

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Photo: Hizwan Hamid
1/12

DR.Inc

If there’s one café in KL that isn’t afraid to bend the rules, it’s DR.Inc. It’s a shame to visit and miss out on the more kooky coffee beverages on the menu, one of which is the Presso Bomb, a shot of espresso submerged in a tall glass of ice cream soda for a creamy, fizzy result. In the case of the Che Guevara, the intensity of espresso is enhanced when shocked over ice, but cleverly balanced out with lemon and sugar. In all of his espresso-based drinks, head barista Neil Liew takes the road less travelled with a dark Italian roast – a brave choice for others, but just a nonchalant one for Neil.

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Bangsar
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Photo: Hizwan Hamid
2/12

Thirdwave

One of our favourite things about THIRDWAVE is the brew bar, where customers can sit around the marble top and hound the barista with coffee-related questions. Not many cafés in KL have the privilege of space, and here, they use it well. When sitting at the bar, we suggest you order a filtered coffee or an ice-drip in which lightly roasted beans are prioritised to bring out clean flavours. You can also ask for the Three Little Birds espresso blend with milk that carries a dark chocolate finish, or something equally exciting from Has Bean Coffee Roaster.

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Bangsar South
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Photo: Hizwan Hamid
3/12

BEAM

If you’ve ever imagined drinking kopi-o brewed with Arabica beans, imagine no more. BEAM’s Malaysian-style kopi panas is a novelty among third-wave cafés, but predictably, a darker roast is used compared to the ang moh-style espresso and latte. The house blend is a combination of beans from El Salvador, Tanzania and Colombia, which produces a sharp, bold kick; you could say it has a harsh ‘oomph’ that suits the general Malaysian palate for coffee. Paired with a sla b of pulut tekan or talam ubi, it’s oddly apt.

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Damansara
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Photo: Stacy Liu
4/12

Brewmen

When in Brewmen, make sure to order the outrageously delicious cold brew infused with nitrogen. The nitro is introduced to the brew from a tap to produce a creamy head much like a wellpulled stout. If it’s familiar coffee you’re after, you’re still in good hands. Just state your preference of coffee notes to the barista (fruity, acidic, chocolatey, etc) and a single origin or blend will be swiftly recommended. Depending on the bean, you can also have your coffee brewed using an aeropress, V60 or Chemex.

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Mont Kiara
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Photo: Hizwan Hamid
5/12

Three Little Birds

If you’re already familiar with Joey Mah’s super smooth brews at the café’s Sentul outlet, we suggest you check out the newer Desa ParkCity branch. The team is equipped with steampunks, a type of coffee machinery that delivers accuracy and consistency with filtered coffee.

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Sentul
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Photo: Hizwan Hamid
6/12

Roast Factor Glee

Being a micro-roaster, owner Shyue Chin has the advantage of experimenting with different blends without the pressure of having to produce large batches. At time of print, the Ratawali from Central Acheh is used in espressobased drinks, which carries a rich body and notes of dark chocolate. Meanwhile, the pour-over coffee celebrates the Altisimo from a micro-lot in Bolivia. While you’re sipping on premium brews, don’t forget that all cakes and hot food are made from scratch – including the smoked pork pizza and ice creams in fl avours like beer.

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Bandar Utama
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7/12

Pulp by Papa Palheta

PULP is a dream for those who play with coffee toys. A small space is dedicated to the café where you can sample top-notch brews, but a chunk of it is designed as a coffee retailer and cupping centre, so if you’re an avid coffee consumer, questions about beans, coffee machines and brewing methods can be directed to the well-informed team.

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Bangsar
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Photo: Kahmun/Mythstudio
8/12

Standing Theory

Owner Perng and coffee scientist Jimmy are always on the prowl for new house beans, and a recent addition to the roster is the La Berlina from Panama, a gently acidic single origin that’s reserved only for black coffee. In milk coffee, expect a blend of Brazil’s Poços de Caldas and Columbia’s La Joyeria #516.

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SS2
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Photo: Stacy Liu
9/12

Seven Cups

A calm washes over you as soon as you step into Sevencups – it’s all in the blonde wood and ethereal remixes of pop hits. Thereon, the coffee takes over. We’ve always rooted for the café’s Nylon Four Chairs series, and this time around, it’s the Seasonal Espresso Blend from Brazil and Colombia. For filtered coffee, go for the Wottona Bultuma single origin from Ethiopia, a complex, fruity brew with consistent juicy notes. Kudos to the well-trained baristas behind the counter, as every single cup of coffee we’ve had here was pulled perfectly and served in an ideal temperature. The house-made cakes and waffles (topped with ice cream from Inside Scoop) are a bonus.

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Damansara
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Photo: Amir Rashid
10/12

Sprezzatura Coffee

Sprezzatura is as much a coffee roastery and supplier as is it a café. If you haven’t already tried their customised blends in cafés such as The Grumpy Cyclist or The Owls Café, head to their HQ in Phileo Damansara for a cup or two. Though blends rotate regularly, there is much focus on the low acidity of Indonesian beans, most likely from the Tana Toraja region. The wonderfully approachable Jamie, who heads the roasting and brewing works, will fill you in on the profile of each variety on offer.

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Damansara
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Photo: Hizwan Hamid
11/12

Thursdvys

TTDI is a burgeoning district for new coffee bars, and this eye-catching spot leads the pack. Owned by buddies Hadri and Hanif, this Melbourne-inspired set-up sports a feature slant wall that provides the illusion of a falling warehouse – it’s all a bit cool. The boys have an undoubtedly tasteful eye for style, proven with the execution of a clear theme without the curse of convolution. Count yourself lucky if you get your hands on a slice of peanut butter cheesecake with M&Ms, best paired with a cup of Singapore’s Common Man.

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TTDI
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Photo: Kahmun/Mythstudio
12/12

VCR

VCR isn’t just a café for discerning coffee drinkers; as a bonus, it’s also starkly attractive. Remodeled from a building on-site, the café retains much of its original charm and old-world feel while an airy, breezy, rattan-chaired setup dominates the first floor. Owner Andrew Lee and business partner Lee Ee Han strive tirelessly to make ideal cups of coffee from single-origin beans and unique blends. On a hot day, sneak in a cup (or pitcher) of cold brew, only enhanced by a slice of Frost & Flourish’s peanut butter-banana cake.

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Pudu

Want Vietnamese coffee instead? Try these

Antipodean Café Bangsar

This major brunch player is one of the rare cafés in town to serve Vietnamese-style drip coffee. Choose beans from various (Indonesian) regions like Java, Acheh, Lintong or Sumatran Mandheling and watch the brew drip slowly onto a layer of condensed milk below. Once mixed into the milk, the medium-strength Acheh variety is thick, sweet and tastes like dessert.

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Bangsar

Kafe Vietnam

The coffee is arguably the best of the Vietnamese kind you’ll find in the Klang Valley – it’s made from a blend of organic civet coffee and a local Vietnamese roast. Order it warm.

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Puchong

Obanhmi

This little treasure in Damansara Uptown run by two young boys from Hanoi may pull in weekend crowds for excellent bánh mì sandwiches, but their Vietnamese coffee is equally praise-worthy. Vietnamese beans are imported and brewed to produce potent, half-filled cups of coffee; it (almost) rings close to the kind of coffee you’d typically sip on low stools at a busy Hanoi junction.

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Damansara

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