Sunday October 8, 2017
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The newly opened Ome by Spacebar Coffee. ― Pictures by KE OoiThe newly opened Ome by Spacebar Coffee. ― Pictures by KE OoiGEORGE TOWN, Oct 8 ― It started as a passion project, evolved into a pop-up in Kuala Lumpur, became a full-time venture in a shared space in Penang and now Joachim Leong and Shean Tan have put down roots and opened their own shop here.

Joachim Leong and Shean Tan started the pop-up Spacebar Coffee in KL before moving to Penang two years ago to try their hand at running a permanent coffee joint at Awesome Canteen in Victoria Street.

The making of coffee...Joachim Leong pouring the coffee for a filtered coffee.The making of coffee...Joachim Leong pouring the coffee for a filtered coffee.Last month, Leong and Tan opened Ome by Spacebar Coffee. The minimalistic café is tucked away in a heritage shophouse along a quiet narrow lane in George Town, with only a colourful mural of deities on the side of the building as a landmark.

In the Gallery


  • The making of coffee...Joachim Leong pouring the coffee for a filtered coffee. ― Picture by KE Ooi

  • The newly opened Ome by Spacebar Coffee. ― Picture by KE Ooi

  • A place called Ome by Spacebar Coffee that doubles as an art space. ― Picture by KE Ooi

  • The art exhibition titled ‘Joya: from Pebbles To Hills’ by Tatawa. ― Picture by KE Ooi


  • Blueberry bread pudding baked by Shean Tan at Ome. ― Picture by KE Ooi

  • Hot chocolate and butter pound loaf at Ome by Spacebar Coffee. ― Picture by KE Ooi

  • Joachim Leong and Shean Tan in their own place called Ome by Spacebar Coffee. ― Picture by KE Ooi

  • The exhibition and event space on the first floor of Ome. ― Picture by KE Ooi

  • Ome by Spacebar Coffee still specialises in coffee. ― Picture by KE Ooi

“After two years here, we have decided to call Penang home, so this cafe is named that — 'home', without the 'h' — as we want to create a space that feels like home for others, too,” Leong said.

Ome by Spacebar Coffee now has a range of fine Hojo teas too.Ome by Spacebar Coffee now has a range of fine Hojo teas too.While the café will continue to serve specialty coffee as before, they have also introduced new items, in particular fine teas by Hojo.

“These are organically grown teas with interesting fresh fruit and flower flavours,” he said.

Other than coffee and tea, Ome will also offer Tan's baked goods such as olive oil zucchini bread, butter pound loaf, bread pudding and banana sesame bread.

“We may be trying out new recipes once we are fully settled down here, such as making our own sourdough bread in future,” Leong said.

The café’s décor is warm and inviting, with its bare brick walls, natural lighting from the skylight and simple furnishing with a main table under the skylight as a focal point.

The table is a long wooden slab with a moss garden thriving happily at one corner.

Art has a home here too

The red brick walls on the ground and the first floors provide the perfect space for art exhibitions, so Ome also doubles as an art space for shows and small art events.

Its very first art exhibition, Joya: from Pebbles to Hills by mixed-media abstract and environmental sound artist Tatawa, is a very interesting one.

The art exhibition titled ‘Joya: from Pebbles To Hills’ by Tatawa.The art exhibition titled ‘Joya: from Pebbles To Hills’ by Tatawa.This is the first solo exhibition by the Malaysian artist in Asia, and showcased a collection of small artworks that may be viewed while listening to a sound composition for a more immersive experience.

The artworks and sound compositions were made during Tatawa's two-week residency at Joya: arte + ecologia in Almeria, Spain.

The exhibition, which is open to the public, ends on October 31.

Want to be a barista?

When Leong and Tan started Spacebar coffee, both were new in the industry and had to learn the trade through trial and e

Now, after four years of in the school of hard knocks, Leong wants to help others interested in coffee making by introducing a barista apprenticeship programme.

“I want to help train those who are interested in the art of making coffee so that they can compete in barista competitions and be able to manage a coffee bar,” he said.

A place called Ome by Spacebar Coffee that doubles as an art space.A place called Ome by Spacebar Coffee that doubles as an art space.That is not all, however, as he will also educate these apprentices about the commercial side of running a café.

“It took us four years to learn all this before we finally struck out on our own so now, we want to give formal training to those just starting out,” he said.

He said they are always open to sharing sessions with the local barista community and café owners.

“One thing good about the cafe community in Penang is that we know each other and we help each other out,” he said.

Ome by Spacebar Coffee

1, Lorong Toh Aka

George Town

8am-6pm

Closed on Wed and Thurs 

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