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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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.
This breezy café in Sentul’s airy D7 building 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.
A cafe by day and a bar by night, Transparent Coffee shares the same address as Coley at Jalan Abdullah, Bangsar. Decked out in a chic minimalist decor, this hidden coffee shop will lure you in with its smell of coffee. You may wonder why it's called Transparent Coffee - the cafe is transparent with its coffee trade whereby coffee beans here are directly sourced from farmers, giving you the best coffee quality.
With a selection of white, black and filter coffee, a must-try is the good old Iced Latte – milky, thick and simply satisfying your coffee fix. Order a sandwich to go with your coffee, an option of three cheese or chicken and aubergine sandwich made with home-baked sourdough.
Wedged into half a shop lot in Damansara Uptown is this little takeaway coffee bar that serves arguably the cheapest coffee in PJ. Using their own house blend of beans from India, Papua New Guinea and Brazil, Baristar serves drinks with prices that start at an affordable RM5 – think long black or Americano, espresso, piccolo latte, green tea latte or even selected teas.
More interestingly, you’ll also find creative coffee drinks here, such as the Black Tonic (espresso on ice with tonic water; RM9), Twilight Jeju (iced black coffee with Korean yuzu marmalade; RM9) and Coffee Cubes (creamy milk over frozen coffee ice cubes; RM9). Selected drinks come with an upsize option for an additional RM1.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cream is an evolution of The Roast Things, 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 milk-based brew.
Craft Origin proudly displays its coffee roaster in a position of prominence in the café. There are two types of coffee served here: pour-over and espresso-based, with the blend for the former changing every week, and the blend for the latter every month. The espresso-based coffee blend is well balanced: bold without being too hard-hitting, with a little acidity to make it an all-round pleaser.
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 flavours. 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. From time to time, X Coffee will fly in renowned baristas and roasters from Japan for special coffee workshops.
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 espresso-based 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.
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.