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The 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.

RECOMMENDED: Local coffee roasters you should know

1
Aitch
1/15

Aitch

Tucked away in a nondescript shophouse in Mutiara Damansara, Aitch has a casual, lab-like vibe. The roaster sits in one corner, operating three times a week; the huge coffee counter is the focal point, placed at the front of the shop next to a small vinyl collection; there’s a temperature- and humidity-controlled room at the back, where the beans are stored. For coffee, we suggest the clean-tasting Ethiopian Adado (if available) – better yet, inform the barista about your preference (fruity, floral, dark and chocolatey, etc) and go with their recommendation. It’ll be a great education process.

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Mutiara Damansara
2
BEAM
Photo: Hizwan Hamid
2/15

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
3
Brewmen
Photo: Stacy Liu
3/15

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
4
Coffee Collective
Photo: Daniel Chan
4/15

Coffee Collective

Coffee Collective roasts and supplies specialty coffee beans to some of the city’s top cafés: Their Ratawali beans from Sumatra, with distinct dark chocolate notes and honey-like sweetness, are popular among cafés to use in espresso drinks. If you manage to locate this boutique roaster, hidden in the labyrinth of industrial warehouses in Section 19, we highly recommend the Cambara from Brazil for its almond notes and vanilla aftertaste, or the Ethiopian Mormora with its creamy body, berry notes and clean finish. 

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Petaling Jaya
5
Cottle Coffee
5/15

Cottle Coffee

Better latte than never: Melbourne’s Cottle Coffee has finally found its way to Malaysia, after over four decades of sourcing, roasting and blending beans from all over the world. It’s a cosy space with chill vibes; order a cup of coffee brewed from beans flown in from its Melbourne roaster (single origin beans are available, along with a selection of house blends), as well as Asian and Western food fare, such as nasi lemak, pulled beef sandwich and durian cake.

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Damansara
6
Cream
6/15

Cream

Cream is an evolution of The Roast Things, one of the city’s earliest micro-roasters, founded and run by Chiam Tow Jin and Ving Lim. Here at Cream, their roasts are a good balance of fruit acidity and sweetness. For filtered coffee, you can choose from a selection of single origin beans. Highlights include the Tanzania Kanji Lalji Peaberry, which has a dense body with hints of blackcurrant, and the Kirinyaga Kiangoi from Kenya, noted for its crisp acidity. While filtered coffee might take on an almost tea-like body, go for the espresso-based coffee if you prefer something more robust. Their Awesome 2 espresso blend (a mix of Brazilian and Colombian beans) is one of their top sellers, which they supply to other cafés. Cream also serves cold brew coffee two ways – you can choose either black or the milkbased brew. You’ll also find premium loose leaf tea from Yunnan (oolong, raw pu er, pu er and white tea), along with a small selection of cakes and sandwiches.

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Petaling Jaya
7
DR.Inc
Photo: Hizwan Hamid
7/15

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
8
The Hub
Photo: Stacy Liu
8/15

The Hub

Filter coffee bar The Hub may seem like your usual neighbourhood café, patronised by families and yuppies hunched over their laptops. But the pink micro roaster at the shopfront hints at a slightly more serious pursuit – husband-and-wife team Nicholas Tay and Yuki roasts their own beans, and uses at least 41 bean varieties (from Thailand, Indonesia, Congo, Tanzania, Colombia, Yemen and more) for their filtered coffee; ten more varieties are sourced from Miami boutique coffee producer Ninety Plus and its offshoot Levelup Taste Profiles by Ninety Plus.

The Hub is simple: the decor boasts narrow interiors, wooden tables, framed eggshell boxes, with natural light pouring in through the skylight. If you ever drop by, we recommend the caramel-hued Ethiopia Lomi Tasha. Served in a small jug, delicate floral notes with a hint of black tea emanate from the light brew. You can pair it with their cakes or a light brunch, but we say go straight for the filtered and ice drip coffee.

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Kuchai Lama
9
Pulp by Papa Palheta
9/15

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
10
Roast Factor Glee
Photo: Hizwan Hamid
10/15

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
11
Seraph Awaken
11/15

Seraph Awaken

After a year of brewing coffee by the roadside and roasting coffee at home, Cheau See and Chun Hoong finally opened Seraph Awaken in early 2015. Located by the Klang train station (follow the scent of roasting beans and you’ll find them), Seraph Awaken is known for its signature hibiscus coffee (Ethiopia Sidamo red cherry brew served with hibiscus tea ice cubes), siphon brews and an assortment of locally baked pandan cakes and jackfruit cakes.

Now that they have a space to call their own, Cheau See and Chun Hoong have moved their roasting operations to the café. Apart from roasting imported beans such as Panama Geisha Morgan Estate, Guatemala Acatenango Geisha, and Brazil Yellow Bourbon Jatoba, Seraph Awaken also champions honey-processed Liberica beans (the beans usually reserved for our local kopi o) from Johor as well as local single-estate cocoa from Lee’s Cocoa at Tanjung Sepat.

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Klang
12
Seven Cups
Photo: Daniel Chan
12/15

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 Fatbaby) are a bonus.

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Damansara
13
Sprezzatura Coffee
Photo: Amir Rashid
13/15

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
14
Standing Theory
Photo: Kahmun/Mythstudio
14/15

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
15
Thirdwave
Photo: Hizwan Hamid
15/15

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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By: Time Out KL editors

Comments

2 comments
sam l
sam l

Check out emonique cafe "coconut latte" , the bean is roasted from northern Thailand . Also their Vietnamese coffee . It's located at Faber tower 2 , Taman desa .

Royston L
Royston L

Check out Sudo Brew. It's at Damansara Jaya, near Atria. Loads of space to work, super fast internet and most important of all, awesome coffee.