Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Who's Coffee And Why Is (S)he In Love?

On Jalan Sri Hartamas 1, en route to Publika at Solaris Dutamas, you may have noticed a sign outside Eastern Nursery just after an overpass. It sounds like and odd declaration of love.

Who the hell's Coffee and why is (s)he in love?

Actually, it's just an odd name for a coffee bar tucked away in the nursery. Experience tells me good brews are to be had in places like this. Unfortunately, on the first two occasions I had a look, the place was closed.

A signpost marks the start of a path leading to a sheltered extension of a potter's barn. The signpost sports a wooden "Open/Close" sign that doesn't always mean what it says. If you can't open the café's Facebook page, open your ears. If the barista is in, there'll be music drifting out of the shelter - which I heard when I dropped by on New Year's Day.

One is also advised to show up a little after 2pm during weekends, when the café is most likely to be open.

Just when you think it's already tucked-away... it's just
like Aladdin's Adobo Shack

Established in June 2011, the Coffee In Love Café is reminiscent of those vendors' shacks in the Caribbean you might have read about. Assorted bric-a-brac here and there gives the whole décor a rundown yet quirky feel. Fake chillies, a gas lamp, old statuettes, wooden figurines and potted plants accent an interior festooned with salvaged furniture: chairs of all makes and sizes, old cabinets and kitchen cupboards, and wooden classroom desks.

The interior of Coffee in Love Café - an American Picker's
kinda place. Don't think all the items are for sale.

A water feature (in the background) are also made from recyclables: PVC pipes and paint buckets, and also serves to funnel run-off from a rain gutter. A blackboard for miscellaneous announcements was singing the owner's praises.

"Have you seen the owner?" Yes. "Is she cute?" No comment.

On a cabinet near the bar is the speaker where the music comes from. Depending on the barista and the help, you can have Latino/Spanish pop hits to jazz - good coffee house music. The whole décor adheres pretty much to the re-use and recycle principle espoused by the founders.

One of them, the supposed owner Helen, worked in the F&B business for a while. She calls herself an artist now, but opened the café to serve good coffee. "In KL it's easy to find crap coffee," she told me when I'd dropped by days ago.

Where did she learn how to make coffee? "Self-taught," she replied.

"100% Colombian Coffee" - that's what goes into every cup. They grind only as much as they need for each order. Only a few stray beans remain in the grinder's bin. This is good because coffee beans should be kept in the tin when not in use. They degrade when exposed to air.

You "like it STRONG and HARD?" Colombian beans'll do it for ya.
Ask for the Piccolo Latte (RM5). If you ask nicely, the barista may
even make you a a triple espresso - if your heart can handle it.

Like most of their hot beverages, my latte (RM7) comes with a square biscuit that tastes like a Marie's Biscuit - good for taking the bitter edge from the coffee. After a few sips, however, you won't mind a bit.

Cold water is served in re-purposed wine and spirits bottles and
glass jars that provide good photo opportunities for shutterbugs.
Brown sugar is provided but not necessary.

The brew? Kicks like a mule, their Piccolo Latte in particular. With less milk than the latte, you can better feel the strength and, perhaps, the quality of the brew. I wasn't doing too well on the taste department then because I'd scalded my tongue.

I got out my writing materials and tried to fill a few pages. Though it looked like a good place to get creative, the warm, humid weather saps much of that impulse in no time - not that it's a bad thing. Coffee in Love is more of a place where people can chill and get caffeinated after lunch.

The atmosphere will lull aspiring Hemingways and W Somerset
Maughams into a tropical torpor no amount of caffeine can jolt.

Few things beat sipping a steamy brew of Colombian Supremo beans in a warm, humid shack, surrounded by earthy sights and smells and with music to match. And a barista who says he likes coffee and half-jokingly greets you "Good morning!" when you arrive because, I guess, the day doesn't really start without a good cuppa.

Slanty art shot of the counter. You'll most probably find these two
at the Café on weekends, when it opens from 2pm-ish to 6pm.

So you'll forgive a lot of things about this weird little corner. Electric fans provide air conditioning when there's no breeze. There may be mosquitoes about. Rain will make it nice and cool, albeit quite damp. Damp air's no good for my lungs, but a great excuse for another warm beverage. Good coffee itself is already hard to come by, so don't complain about the latte art.

Though they had some in the beginning, food is very occasionally served here. The tiny place looks like it can only accommodate about twenty patrons at a time. And they only open during lunch on weekdays and after lunch on weekends and close at around six in the evening.

But with prices from RM3++ to RM10, it's damn good value for several good beverages (you're probably begging for a thrashing if you want them iced). And there's wi-fi.

It's been open seven months, but quite a few people have found it already (Facebook is fantastic that way). The Coffee In Love Café Facebook page has all the updates, and they announce their café openings there, too.

I had no reason to stay until they close, so I got up to leave and ask for the bill. They got P1 wi-fi and update their clientèle on a social network, but Coffee in Love's cash register is a Milo can on a pulley - so old-school, it's Jurassic - so you don't get a printed receipt. This is by far the greenest and coolest (style, not temperature) café I've been to.

Coffee in Love Café
c/o Eastern Nursery
132KV, SGBT - TNB 8-10
Jalan 1/70A, Taman Sri Hartamas
50480 Kuala Lumpur



  1. What a great find! It sounds like a caffeine addict's dream. I only regret it's in a spot completely inaccessible by public transit. Hmmm... No, I really can't justify taxi fares for great coffee, either. Rats.

  2. Bookface: Unfortunately, I was told they'll be shifting to Publika, Solaris Dutamas in a couple of months or so, with a change in the café concept. Still the same people, I think.

    Thanks for stopping by! This blog doesn't get many (commenting) visitors.

  3. Really enjoying your blog. Thank you!

    P.S. I had exactly the same thoughts about wearing civets, whether they're tight or not. Inadvisable. Your photo convinced me that we are correct in this. :-)

  4. Bookface: Thank you for the kind words. Good weekend!


Got something to say? Great! Rant away!