GEORGE TOWN, July 20 — Coffee lovers in Kuala Lumpur may have come across the Spacebar Coffee duo, Joachim Leong and Shean Tan, at their various pop-ups in the city but now they have a permanent home. In Penang.
Spacebar Coffee is now sharing Sekeping Victoria’s ground floor space with Awesome Canteen to bring specialty coffee to the island state; coffee culture here has really taken off in recent months.
The duo decided to expand their coffee-making venture up north to offer hand-brewed filter coffee using beans from around the world, plus introduce two tonic drinks specially formulated for Penang.
“It was actually a sudden decision as we didn’t have any plans for July and August. So when Diane Ong, the co-owner of Awesome Canteen, told us about this place in Penang, we thought we could try to go to the next level to manage our own cafe,” Leong said.
The duo is now based permanently in Penang as they have signed on to run the Spacebar Coffee alongside Awesome Canteen for two years. If one looks at how the duo first started their pop-ups in August last year at Awesome Canteen in Petaling Jaya, and then go on to Le Lapin Cafe and Await Cafe for several months at a time, the opening of their first permanent cafe is a natural progression.
In Penang, though there are close to 100 cafes all around the island, hand-brewed filter coffee using freshly ground imported beans is still relatively new.
Leong said they hope to introduce freshly brewed filter coffee that can be enjoyed hot on its own without the addition of milk or sugar so as not to detract from the flavours of the coffee.
“These coffee, made from specially picked beans, offer a variety of flavours not unlike wine... depending on the beans used,” he said.
As an example, coffee made from Kenyan beans gives a wine-like flavour while Ethiopian beans have hints of berries and US beans have nutty flavours.
“This is why coffee from different types of beans can be naturally sweet and some can be fruity too without any extra addition of sugar or other syrups,” he said.
Penang island is known for its hot and humid weather so the duo came up with signature drinks—black tonic and red tonic—that are particularly great as thirst quenchers.
The black tonic is an espresso over tonic water with ice while the red tonic is a refreshing sparkling drink made with cold brew cascara tea and tonic water.
Cascara tea is a smooth, fruity drink made out of dried coffee cherries that has a natural sweetness with hints of sour plum.
The coffee beans the cafe uses are all freshly roasted in Kuala Lumpur and they also offer a range of cakes baked by Tan.
The staples are their banana bread made from yogurt, bananas and honey and orange pound cake but occasionally Tan will bake chocolate chip sour cream cake and power cookies.
Spacebar Coffee and Awesome Canteen Sekeping Victoria, Victoria Street, George Town Opening Hours: Noon-10pm (Closed on Tuesdays)
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