If you’re still having trouble locating the minimalist X Coffee in Q Sentral, you’ll be glad to know that the multi-roaster coffee bar has an outpost in Isetan The Japan Store. Like the outlet in Q Sentral, this X Coffee bar specialises in beans from cult Japanese roasters, namely Maruyama, Fuglen and Nozy. As such, the prices are higher than usual, but you can expect quality hand-brew coffee with lots of flavour. You can select your beans from a list of single origins or award-winning roasts. The menu also extends to espresso-based coffee, hot and iced chocolate and matcha latte, and cold-pressed juices. You can buy coffee beans here as well (including those from Glitch), along with coffee flower honey and coffee syrup. The space itself is beautifully designed: seating pods dominated by wood elements and accentuated with mood lighting. And because it’s located on the third floor where the bookstore is, it’s usually very calm and quiet here. From time to time, X Coffee will fly in renowned baristas and roasters from Japan for special coffee workshops.
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.
This pop-up coffee joint co-founded by Adly Azmi and Keith Koay (who was ranked 16 at the World Barista Championship 2016) has moved to a new location. Previously at BRATS in Taman Paramount, One Half is now in Damansara Uptown’s Random Food Store. The coffee joint is one of the three concepts that make up the food store – next to Buncit Bao-Bar and an ice cream kiosk (previously Every Sundae). The menu features specialty teas and a range of coffee. Expect the usual espressos made with either Colombian or Ethiopian beans, or you can try the Random Blend, which is a mix of Guatemalan and Ethiopian beans. If you want something a little stronger, they also serve beer now. Prices of espressos start from RM9 while beers are from RM21.
The folks behind Artisan Roast have come a long way since their humble RAW days. This breezy café in Sentul’s airy D7 building is testament to their maturing style and quality. This is one of the most consistent coffee shops in KL, and we like that it has a homey neighbourhood vibe to it.
We suggest you lock your spot at the outdoor patio where vines entwine around thick ropes; for a precious while, you’ll feel completely disengaged from the city buzz. A Three Little Birds coffee blend is one that's bold and acidic with a strong finish. There are single origin coffee beans too, which will be brewed filter-style; to order, just ask for Coffee Juice.
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.
Operated by the same team as Brewmen, the café serves as a coffee spot for folks using adjacent co-working space The Co. And since Brewmen is famous for their nitro coffee, Bean Reserve follows suit but have added two more choices to the nitro variety – Earl Grey tea and milk-based cold-brew coffee, both infused with nitrogen to give it a foamy top and a smooth, creamy mouthfeel.
Besides that, there's also chai latte (with chai syrup made in-house), a drink that is slowly creeping into the menu of KL’s cafés. But if you're here for just coffee sans nitrogen, you can't go wrong with a flat white.
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.
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.
The folks at Artisan Roast got it right when they put precedence on the coffee over the decor of their café. But this is not to say the outlet’s shabby; on the contrary, it has an endearing DIY charm to it. Artisan Roast uses the Loring Smartroast coffee roaster, one of the world’s best and the only one of its kind in Malaysia. But that’s hardly the point: The recipe for Artisan Roast’s success lies in their total involvement in the entire production chain, from the sourcing of the beans to the roasting and the training of the baristas. While they experiment with different blends and roasts, a signature Artisan Roast coffee is one that’s slightly acidic, bold in flavour, and leaves a fragrant bitterness on your palate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.