Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ever Growing Cafe in Kuala Lumpur

The number of coffee shops within the vicinity of Kuala Lumpur had increased tremendously over the year and it's just not stopping; Artisan Roast will open its fourth installation Three Little Birds Coffee opened in D7, Sentul East Design Centre (SEED), Jalan Sentul alongside with many prestigious world-leading designer brands. Oh and not to forget that a new cafe will be opening right this 14th of December (Saturday) at Jalan Tun H.S. Lee, if everything goes well. Name? Hint: *Lucy in the sky...* 

This brings me to the question - Where the heck did all these baristas came from? 

I am not in the position to answer this question accurately and definitely. But here are some assumptions

(1) I remember there were coffee-appreciation classes/seminars held years back. It involves education on coffee, green beans, quality control, roasting profile, cupping and tasting. These classes were held up till now (and still going strong) in nurturing the public best information and methods in making the perfect cup of coffee (I am not sure of the validity of this). Some of those, if not most, whom gained useful information also group up for more experiments and tasting session in order to gain experience to be a barista. Now, baristas could upgrade themselves through these classes and take exams to be certified... erm... barista. 

(2) All right, let's assume the third-wave coffee shop(s) started penetrating Kuala Lumpur before the coffee-appreciation classes even begin. Similar (but mutually exclusive) to the rise of bubble tea, the third-wave coffee shop opens slowly one by one. Heck, most of the Kuala Lumpur crowds aren't even focused onto the subject in the year 2010. But let's say the discovery of the subject in-focus gained popularity (due to returning students/labours from Australia and UK) in the end of 2011-2012, people got fascinated at cleaner, unique coffee profile than those they consumed usually from conglomerate franchises. These led to the organization of (1). 

(3) Overall, (1) and (2) had instigated people in seeking good coffee. This also established the concept of coffee shops in Kuala Lumpur, and also spread to Ipoh, Penang and Johor. The establishment created stable relationship between suppliers, roasters, baristas, and clients. The growing number of entrepreneurs also directly related to the fast-growing coffee shops. The initial 'crops' of barista (not specific to any timeline) had valuable prospects to be hired by any up-and-coming coffee shop owners who put quality of coffee to an utmost importance. Let's not forgetting the fact that there were experienced baristas whom came back from overseas. 

(4) Some of these baristas, if not most, are interconnected in the sense where there were meet-ups and sessions regularly in cooperating with the aim of elevating each other standard and skill. Currently, the barista(s) I met in one coffee shop in the East of Kuala Lumpur may even be in connection with another barista(s) that served me in the West of Kuala Lumpur. 

Conclusion(?): A growing number of baristas trained overtime back from the initiation of coffee-appreciation had somewhat/somehow sufficiently catered the growing number of third-wave coffee shops (selected quality ones). Oh but don't take my words for all of these, I assumed most of it based on few months of personal observations.

On a different note, I gained a multitude of free time with my final year project and classes finally came to an end (graduating woo hoo!). With such free time, I tend to spend (actually spent) them in cafe hopping; visiting the nearest coffee shop(s)/cafe(s) in the nearest vicinity of an area I happened to pass by. Some are newly opened, while some established over half a year. I had shaved off my preference for espresso-based milk coffee (except times when I'm shaking from overdose), now consuming espresso, long black and filter coffee. And by the way, I discovered a no-fuss coffee pop-up which serves really, really good coffee by a prominent figure in the coffee industry (in my opinion, at least). I'll post about it when the time comes. 

Joey Mah, Barista Trainer of Artisan Roast, introduced me into the many beautiful filtered single-origins.

Amin, informative and responsible friend, the guy whom made me fell in love with pourover/drip (V60, clever dripper).

Despite travelling to every nook and cranny of Kuala Lumpur for coffee (filter, when available), I still find time to return to Artisan Roast in the hope (now this is desperate) of tasting a drip coffee. In the mean time, motivate yourself into coffee-appreciation!

Edited on 28th Dec - Signalling the opening of Three Little Birds Microroastery (by Artisan Roast).