The best coffee shops in KL

Our critics pick the best coffee shops in KL that call the shots
By Time Out KL editors |
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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

Restaurants, Coffeeshops

X Coffee The Japan Store

icon-location-pin Bukit Bintang

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.

Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Craft Origin

icon-location-pin TTDI

KL’s latest addition to the coffee scene is Craft Origin, which proudly displays its coffee roaster in a position of prominence in the café. One of the founders is Melson Lee, who brings his experience from The Curious Goat in Damansara Perdana to roast and create coffee blends that cater to both coffee aficionados and regular Joes.

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 hardhitting, with a little acidity to make it an allround pleaser.

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Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Cream

icon-location-pin Petaling Jaya

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.

Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Three Little Birds

icon-location-pin Sentul

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.

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Seraph Awaken
Photo: Hizwan Hamid
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Seraph Awaken

icon-location-pin Klang

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.

The Hub
Photo: Stacy Liu
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

The Hub

icon-location-pin Kuchai Lama

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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Baristar Coffee & Tea Express
Photo: Lim Chee Wah
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Baristar Coffee & Tea Express

icon-location-pin Damansara

Wedged into half a shoplot in Damansara Uptown is this little take-away 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.While Baristar is essentially a take-away coffee bar, there are three small counter seats indoors. If you’re feeling peckish, choose from a small selection of cakes and pastries.

Pulp by Papa Palheta
Photo: Hizwan Hamid
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Pulp by Papa Palheta

icon-location-pin Bangsar

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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Restaurants, Bistros

Artisan Roast Coffee TTDI

icon-location-pin TTDI

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.

Seven Cups
Photo: Daniel Chan
Restaurants, Bistros

Seven Cups

icon-location-pin Damansara

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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VCR
Photo: Stacy Liu
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

VCR

icon-location-pin Pudu

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.

Thursdvys
Photo: Hizwan Hamid
Restaurants, Cafés

Thursdvys

icon-location-pin TTDI

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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Thirdwave
Photo: Hizwan Hamid
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Thirdwave

icon-location-pin Bangsar South

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.

Dr.inc
Photo: Hizwan Hamid
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

DR.Inc

icon-location-pin Bangsar

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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Roast Factor Glee
Photo: Hizwan Hamid
Restaurants, Coffeeshops

Roast Factor Glee

icon-location-pin Bandar Utama

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.

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Want brunch instead?

Second Sunday
Photo: Hizwan Hamid
Restaurants, Eating

The best brunch meals in KL

The elusive hybrid of breakfast and lunch has never tasted this good. So kickstart your lazy weekend with these best brunch dishes in town.

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