Everybody loves coffee.
The friendly, fun and self-proclaimed neurotic, Joachim Leong, founder of Café Hop MY (previously Café Hop KL) together with fellow co-founder Shean Tan, brought the whole coffee industry to another level. Diligently, they mapped out 28 independent cafes around Kuala Lumpur on a special edition printed map and distributed over 5,000 copies around town. Their thought of having an independent coffee guide as a means of helping others look up coffee places easily was brewed into reality with the help of four sponsors. Then, they were approached by a developer to take the project a step further by kicking it off digitally. Today, they’re at cafehop.my, on the lookout for sponsors, advertisers and inspiring bean amateurs into coffee-binge fanatics.
The Cafe Hop My duo are also the people behind Spacebar Coffee Project, a pop-up coffee bar where they set up a small filter coffee bar wherever they can, conducting coffee appreciation and home brewing classes around KL.
“It’s interesting seeing how things have changed and evolved, because part of my childhood was growing up in Bangsar and it used to be pubs and bars all the time but we see more cafes now. I guess most of us have mixed feelings and a little bit of nostalgia because you want things to stay the same. But, at the end of the day, as much as it has changed the way we live, we do appreciate and enjoy a good cuppa,” the friendly Joachim says.
“Undeniably, the trend of coffee culture in Malaysia is picking up swiftly. There’s a lot of factors to it; we see a lot of graduates coming back from abroad, they have perhaps adapted to the lifestyle there and were inspired in some ways of where they’ve been and where they’ve worked, how they see and feel about things around them.”
When asked what characteristics should a café possess to be part of the café trend, “I don’t think there’s a specific one to list down as every design and layout of a café will attract different audience. I reckon, most cafes are coming up with the same trend as it’s the safest and has a low setup cost. Also, to note is that some of the café owners are from the advertising background, hence the similar look and feel. However, I’ve observed that within the last few months, new concepts are now emerging.”
In terms of brews, the 28-year-old Joachim says things like signature ice drinks and cold coffees are the hot items now while homegrown Kopitiams are experimenting with espresso based coffee.
“I believe, culture is constantly progressing. We’re seeing a mixed of local and foreign concepts. However, every café is different and retains its identity. For instance, Pulp is like the Apple store for coffee!” he giggles.
Admittedly, people go to cafes for many a variety reasons; to look for a quiet space for work, meetings, a place to unwind, the weekend coffee adventures or in this case café hopping experiences.
“Whenever you visit a café, it’s not just about the coffee. You’re there because there’s a community with like-minded people who understands and enjoys coffee as much as you do.
“Personally, I hang at cafes where there’s a sense of community, an emotional attachment or trust with the people there because when there’s coffee, there’s community.”
A coffee neurotic, no less!◆
Photography: Shean Tan