The Malaysian capital is often visited in a hurry, but visitors who take the time to explore will discover a welcoming city, thanks in part to its friendly specialty cafés.
BY TANYA NANETTI
SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT
Photos by Tanya Nanetti
Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, is often a stopover on vacations, quickly left behind for the lush jungles of Borneo or some sunny beach nearby. But if you stick around, you’ll find plenty to enjoy!
Welcome to Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur may be a difficult city to love at first glance. Its complicated climate mixes scorching mornings with 98% humidity and heavy afternoon rains that, like clockwork, start roaring hard at 4 p.m., to end who knows when.
Still, Kuala Lumpur knows how to charm you—not only with its delicious restaurants and food stalls, but also with its lovely specialty-coffee shops. They’re ready to welcome visitors all day long, offering a tasty cup and some air conditioning to cool your overheated spirit.
Here is a list of four cool coffee shops to visit during a quick tour of the city.
8055 – Downtown Neighborhood Café
In a city dominated by mega malls and huge coffee shops, it is always a pleasure to find a small roastery-café that caters to locals with the spirit of a true neighborhood hangout. 8055, housed in a small garage in Little India—just a 10-minute walk from the main Merdeka Square—is exactly that.
Bold espresso drinks share the menu with tasty pourovers. Croissants, pain au chocolat, and cookies are always ready to be served hot. The small team behind the counter knows how to create a perfectly cozy environment. Though quiet in the early morning, 8055 suddenly becomes busy several times a day during coffee breaks at local offices. And this is perhaps when the café is at its best: Long lines of regulars who come here day after day to satisfy their caffeine fix reinforce that sense of neighborhood community.
VCR – Destination Brunch
Slightly removed from the central area (but still in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, in the old Pulu district), local coffee roastery VCR’s main café is industrial-chic. Housed in a redeveloped space built in 1927, it now welcomes hordes of locals and tourists looking for a tasty and original brunch on its two floors. Turkish-style eggs, three-cheese toastie, and French toast with homemade coffee ice cream are among the menu highlights.
But don’t forget that the real star of the show here is still the brewed coffee, with single-origin beans roasted in-house. From delicious batch brews (this is one of the few places to serve them in all of KL), to pourovers brewed with Hario V60s and Kalita Waves, to more classic espresso drinks, VCR definitely has something on its menu to satisfy everyone.
Three Years Old Cafe – Indulge with Cake
Just down the road from VCR, Three Years Old Cafe is both its opposite and its complement. Where VCR is black, sleek and minimal, Three Years Old is light and warm; where VCR has brunch as its focus, Three Years Old (which also serves tasty breakfast and lunch dishes) has delicious cakes and pastries. The suggestion for a fitting end to the morning after brunch at VCR is to come here for a second coffee—perhaps a delicious, creamy latte—while indulging in a huge slice of cake.
Cakes, cheesecakes, and tarts in classic flavors such as pistachio, matcha, and tropical fruits are offered alongside more unusual combinations: think yuzu/jasmine cheesecake and lychee/raspberry cheesecake. Simply pick one and enjoy.
You’ll probably be full until dinner, but it will definitely be worth it.
Eight Ounce Coffee Co. – In the Shadow of the Petronas
With KL’s somewhat extreme climate, it is no surprise that most of its residents’ daily lives take place inside huge shopping malls, often connected by underpasses or overpasses. The Suria KLCC—one of the most famous local malls that sits at the foot of the iconic Petronas Towers—welcomes its customers with a row of coffee shops, mostly from major commercial brands. But one of the city’s oldest specialty coffee shops, Eight Ounce Coffee Co., also resides here.
Named for the classic size of their latte (perfectly created by pouring 6 ounces of milk over 2 ounces of espresso), Eight Ounce Coffee Co. is one of the benchmarks for good coffee and lattes in the city’s main commercial area.
Choose between a classic blend and a monthly single-origin for your coffee fix. Then treat yourself to one more rich slice of cake while catching your breath from the heat (or the pouring rain) in the air-conditioned lounge area, before heading back out to the world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tanya Nanetti (she/her) is a specialty-coffee barista, a traveler, and a dreamer. When she’s not behind the coffee machine (or visiting some hidden corner of the world), she’s busy writing for Coffee Insurrection, a website about specialty coffee that she’s creating along with her boyfriend.