Kuala Lumpur Special: City Centre Cafes

When you’re a coffee-addict-bordering-on-coffee-maniac, (without the border), finding a good fix whilst travelling can be a most troublesome affair. No doubt, after spending a whole month travelling with me, Ulcer, Afroman and The Mummy will testify that a lack of coffee doesn’t bode well for me. I become cranky and irritable, and my capacity to tolerate nonsense plummets from “minimal” to “non-existent”. Indeed, by the time I left Thailand, I was ready to murder the next vile packet of “Nescafe Original” that came my way.

Luckily, salvation came in the form of Kuala Lumpur, a modern metropolis with a thriving third wave coffee scene. With so many specialty coffee shops dotted around the city and so little time to spend in it, I had to pick and choose those that were closest my hotel. For me, this was akin to choosing which limb I’d rather keep, but eventually, I decided upon three highly popular cafes in KL’s city-centre.

Note: This is a collated post. Reviews will be condensed, and scores for each establishment will be provided at the end of their respective sections.

VCR

Note: NO halal meat is served. Non-meat options are available.

With its blend of bare-brick walls, glossy wood and matte-black paint, VCR embraces a minimalist’s aesthetic that would appeal to any modern coffee enthusiast. The menu, by contrast, is anything but minimal. As I opted for a slice of thick and fluffy brioche French toast with raspberry compote, mocha sauce and espresso-flavoured non-churn ice cream, I had no idea that I would discover the best breakfast of my month-long trip.

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Brioche french toat with mocha sauce, espresso non-churn ice cream, raspberry compote and crumble

The non-churn ice cream was dense and smooth, and alongside the mocha sauce, it flooded the tastebuds with a rich and unrelenting sweetness. To my surprise, the crumble was equally sweet, and provided a wonderful contrast in texture that simply rounded off the dish. In fact, the only criticism to note was the insufficient quantity of sour raspberry compote, which was stretched thin in its effort to break up the constant sweetness of the other components. (Though it has to be said that rationing was never my forte). Order it to share or brave it alone alongside a bitter coffee, but this is one breakfast item that belongs in your belly.

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A plate of goodness

When it comes to the coffee, VCR offers a number of single-origin beans and a variety of brewing methods and espresso-based preparations. Having thoroughly missed the comfort of steamed milk, The Mummy and I chose a flat white and a piccolo over a pure espresso or brewed form, and found both to be soothing and airy, but slightly unbalanced and overpowered by the very milk that we craved. Either way, it was a joy to finally come across a decent cup of coffee, and best of all, we didn’t throw our money away in the process. Breakfast items range from MYR15-MYR32 (£2.70-£5.80), whilst coffees range from MYR7-MYR13 (£1.30-£2.40) for espresso-based preparations, and MYR12-MYR25 (£2.30-£4.60) for brewed preparations.

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Flat white

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Piccolo

Coffee: 3.5/5
Food: 4.5/5

Value For Money: 4/5
Service: 4.5/5
Venue/Decor: 4.5/5
Atmosphere: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

VCR
Address: 2, Jalan Galloway, Bukit Bintang, 50150 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Telephone: +60 3-2110 2330
Website: http://vcr.my

Coffee Amo

Note: NO halal meat is served. Non-meat options are available.

Whilst I consider myself to be a die-hard coffee enthusiast who – despite having no formal barista-training, can make a very decent range of coffees at home, I must confess that my skills in latte-art leave little to be desired. The hearts I pour are as cruel and as deformed as my own, the rosettas better resemble a squashed bee, and the long and short of it is that I really need a lot more practice. You can imagine then, that when I came across the 3D-latte-art employed by the baristas at Coffee Amo, I was more or less swallowed up by my feelings of artistic-inadequacy. Tucked away on the first floor of a shophouse near Chinatown’s bustling flea-market, this rustic cafe offers a wide range of specialty coffees and sugar-filled desserts, but it was the 3D-latte-art that lured me in for a quick visit.

I opted for a macademia-infused “Sweet 16” latte – (a drink that I would probably scoff and snigger at under normal circumstances), whilst The Mummy, equally intrigued by the world of three dimensions, opted for a “rose garden”, and we were soon confronted by a pair of pandas and a small kitten. After suitably amusing myself by playing “Ate your nose”, I scoffed the poor pandas altogether, and strangely, found the brew to contain little to no essence of macadamia. Nonetheless, it was rather well-balanced for a latte, and possessed a smooth and subtle bitterness that was dominated by the steamed milk. As someone who looks down on lattes with a vengeance, I have to say that as silly as it may be, Coffee Amo’s 3D-latte art is a gimmick that works. Be warned however – the slightly lengthier time required to sculpt the art means that your coffee will inevitably be a little cooler than usual.

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LATTES ARE FOR THE WEAK. Oh look – Pandas! 

Coffees range from MYR6-MYR13 (£1.10-£2.40), whilst cakes and desserts cost around MYR10, (£1.84), so rest assured, a trip to Coffee Amo will be a rather inexpensive affair.

Coffee: 3.5/5
Food: N/A
Value For Money: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Venue/Decor: 4/5
Atmosphere: 2.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Coffee Amo
Address: 1st Floor, 54, Jalan Sultan, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Telephone: +60 3-2857 2677
Website: https://www.facebook.com/coffeeamo/

LOKL Coffee Co.

Note: All the meat served here is halal.

With patriotism and pride embedded in their name, the LOKL Coffee Co. strives to create a sense of community within its high-walled cafe. Alongside its coffee-range, (which doesn’t include the brewed preparations served by VCR or Coffee Amo), LOKL offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and since their food was certified halal, I dug a fork into their “big breakfast” – consisting of scrambled eggs, a smoked chicken sausage, bbq beans, spinach and sourdough.

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Big Breakfast

The chicken sausage, though of a rather average quality, was soft and mildly flavoursome, whilst the scrambled eggs were perfectly cooked and full of flavour. The baked beans, by contrast, were surprisingly bland, whilst the sourdough proved to be slightly tough and mediocre. I also ordered a portion of beef bacon, and found some pieces to be soft and moist, whilst other pieces were disastrously hard. Needless to say, it left me with rather mixed feelings, and the tragedy continued when it came to the business of ordering coffee. The espresso machine had been knocked out of order, and so, I opted for a cup of local “Kopi O” instead. What returned was a mellow cup of coffee with an exceptionally pungent set of floral notes, which, truth be told, left me wondering whether they had accidentally liquidated a florist. Halfway through, I abandoned ship and decided that the light and flowery Kopi O was not for me. 

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A cup of flowers. Oh look – there’s another one in the background!

Despite this hit and miss experience, I would say that the LOKL Coffee Co. is still worth paying a visit, though perhaps on the weekend when the brunch specials come into play, (and ideally when their espresso machine is up and running). Breakfast items range from MYR15-MYR25 (£2.70 – £4.60), and coffees range from MYR6-MYR13 (£1.10-£2.40). 

Coffee: 3/5
Food: 3.5/5
Value For Money: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Venue/Decor: 4/5
Atmosphere: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

LOKL Coffee Co
Address: 30, Jalan Tun H S Lee, 50100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Telephone: +60 3-2072 1188
Website: http://loklcoffee.com/

Others: 

Though I tried to make the most of my four days in Kuala Lumpur, I’m disappointed to say that this article doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of KL’s coffee scene. (Yet). However, you can discover more of KL’s coffee spots on Have Halal Will TravelTime Out, or Expat Go. Rest assured, whether you’re a manic snob like me, or a carefree, casual-drinker, KL has plenty of dynamic blends, beans, and baristas to serve your dark desires. 

 

 

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