04 October 2019

Five Speciality Coffee Shops To Try in Kuala Lumpur

At the start of my two-week trip to Malaysia, I spent a couple of days in Kuala Lumpur. As there were a lot of things I wanted pack in, I didn't have a lot of time to explore the city's speciality coffee scene, but managed to visit several of the cafes and roasteries on my list, which I've outlined below. In my Google Map, I've also flagged two coffee shops I didn't manage to visit, as well as two roasteries whose beans I sampled elsewhere in Malaysia.

Bean Brothers
I spent a long time at Bean Brothers, partly because it's a lovely cafe with excellent coffee, and partly because in the time it took me to travel to the Linc mall in which it is located from Chinatown, the heavens had opened and a long torrential downpour had begun. Perhaps as a result, there was a long queue when I arrived during which I vacillated several times between the two single-origin coffees available on the brew bar during September.

In the end, I opted for roaster James's selection, a Kenyan Gakui AA, brewed through the Clever Dripper, mainly on the basis of the intriguing 'sparkling water and grape' flavour profile. I took a seat at the huge, curving counter where I could watch the barista brewing up various Aeropress, V60 and Clever Dripper drinks with great precision and care.

I'm not sure I would have picked up the sparkling water note myself, but there was a certain frisson to the aftertaste and it was an interesting and well-brewed coffee. There is also a varied all-day menu at Bean Brothers and they sell their own beans too. There's plenty of seating near the coffee bar and on the upper level.

Bean Brothers is located at 360 Jalan Tun Razak, inside The Linc mall (MRT: Ampang Park). Instagram.

Feeka Coffee Roasters
My hotel, the KL Journal Hotel, was just a few minutes' walk from Feeka Coffee Roasters in the heart of the bustling Bukit Bintang neighbourhood. I went for breakfast on my first morning — after a long flight the day before, I was in need of more coffee than the cup I had brewed in my hotel room. Although it was early on a Sunday morning, the cafe was busy when I arrived, with many people enjoying the rather elaborate breakfast dishes. In order to save room for my second breakfast (!), I just ordered a yoghurt with granola, and then turned my efforts to the coffee menu.

With all the usual espresso-based drinks available too, I honed in on the Gold Cup Brewer brew method — where the brew process is tabulated up to 12 times and extraction is optimised — listed on the menu. They were serving a natural Pura Cepa Panche coffee from Colombia, roasted by Collectíve, which had notes of star fruit, cherry and lemon. It was delicious — so much so that I planned to return to buy some of the beans but ended up running out of time. They were also serving a couple of other Collectíve coffees, the Bold seasonal espresso blend and a single-origin Guatemalan, as well as the Blackbird blend from Artisan Roastery, a Malaysian roaster I tried later in my trip.

Feeka Coffee Roasters is located at 19 Jalan Mesui, Bukit Bintang (MRT: Bukit Bintang). Instagram.

Lim Kee Cafe
This cafe is located in the lobby of the Tianjing Hotel in Chinatown, and focuses on espresso-based drinks and a few sweet treats. I had a piccolo, which was on the large side (more of a flat white, really), but tasted nice, especially accompanied with roti kahwin, or butter toast with kaya (coconut jam). It was a busy, lively cafe and the staff were very friendly.

Lim Kee Cafe is located in the Tianjing Hotel at 66-68 Jalan Sultan (MRT: Pasar Seni). Website. Instagram.

Merchant's Lane
Merchant's Lane is tucked away upstairs behind an unassuming doorway on the famous Petaling Street in Chinatown. It's a very popular brunch spot so you may have to wait for a table. I got there early afternoon on a Sunday and had about 15 minutes of eyeing up the menu before I got a table.

Although I mainly stuck to filter coffee while in Malaysia, I did go for a piccolo here. Like at Lim Kee, it was on the larger side (more of a flat white or slightly smaller latte), but well brewed with latte art that lasted all the way down. I also ordered the coconut pancakes with a fried egg, peanuts and chicken rendang; the chicken, in particular, was spicy and the coffee helped to sooth some of the fire.

Merchant's Lane is located at 150 Jalan Petaling (MRT: Pasar Seni). Facebook. Instagram.

I arrived at VCR, on the southern side of Bukit Bintang, by way of Imbi Market at ICC Pudu. The two aren't particularly far apart but the walk was quite challenging on account of the dearth of pavements and the ongoing construction. As such, I was a little hot and bothered by the time I got to VCR, but sitting inside the cool cafe, with its high ceilings, elegant second floor and industrial-chic décor, I soon found my zen.

There were four coffees available on pourover, one of which was also available as a batch-brew filter coffee. I sampled some of the latter and liked it so much I bought a bag of beans (see the photo at the end of the post for a hint of the cool design of packaging). I wanted something fruitier and lighter for the hot KL day, however, and decided to order the natural Ethiopian Haru Suke coffee, brewed through the Kalita Wave. This coffee packed a real fruity punch with orange blossom, apple and apricot, but with a pleasant sweetness too. The cafe was very busy at Sunday brunchtime and speaking of brunch, the food menu looked great too.

VCR is located at 2 Jalan Galloway, Bukit Bintang (MRT: Hang Tuah monorail). WebsiteInstagram.

In my Google Map, I've also added a couple of speciality coffee shops that were on my list that I wasn't able to visit (Acme Bar & Coffee and PULP), as well as two roasters whose beans I tried elsewhere in Malaysia (Artisan Roast (beans pictured below in my mini Malaysian coffee haul) and The Roast Things). These are marked with purple in the map.

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