Sunday, March 27, 2016

Coffee Nation: North Vs South (南北话咖啡)

The earliest coffee culture in Malaysia perhaps can be traced to the deep brown coffee in Northern Peninsular or just pure black coffee from ‘kopi tiam’ (coffee shop) served by Hainan tea shops (海南茶室) prevail in Southern Peninsular Malaysia.

In this sense, each shop will have its own special flavor pending on many factors: from the warm to hot ceramic cup to self-blend secret coffee bean recipes, then ingredients used in the frying of coffee beans, temperature and the precise control of thick, weak, sweet, bitter and sweet tastes of the producer. All these factors caused coffee produced by all coffee shops are slightly distinct.

So it is not difficult to discover that there would be some die-hard fans for every ‘kopi tiam’ in Malaysia. These fans can assuredly tell you what is really called a real cup of coffee.

Having said so, if you are a frequent traveller like me who travels from Johor Bharu in the morning and arrived in Penang at night or vice versa; you will find that there are distinct variations in the north and south coffee. That too means that you are few lucky ones that can taste coffee of different flavours in one day.

The northern coffee is much thicker and looks darker. It carries a special smoky flavor, which is not everyone’s cup of tea figuratively speaking. On the other hand, the southern coffee is slightly sour in flavor and the color is lighter.

In the past, coffee/tea shops are favorite places for local folks to meet and talk. Traditional coffee/tea shops are spacious facing main roads. The floor tiles are mostly black and white floor tiles. They are furnished with semi-antique wooden chairs and tables, coupled with a tall wooden casher’s counter. One could see white steams rose from the kitchen when shop owner is making coffee. Of course, unlike the western folks, coffee is best to be enjoyed with bread, butter, homemade ‘kaya’ (coconut jam) or even half-boiled eggs with soy source. I can 100% assure you that all these combinations will bring you to heaven! But simple good old coffee/tea shops are getting less now days in big cities.

Now days there are many types of coffee available out in the market with many types of modern coffee franchises. I personally like the old coffee shop where I can lift up my legs and talk out loud without attracting any attentions. 

Last but not least, do you prefer a cup of 'kaw' (thick) coffee or just plain (weak) coffee?

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