Cover Story
Down Under Appeal
Grace Lim | 09 Feb 2018 00:30
The Red Bean Bag

Nothing beats the aroma of freshly brewed coffee in the morning. In recent years, Malaysians have become more and more discerning about their choice of java, moving on from international chains to artisanal coffee joints in what is called the third wave of coffee movement.

Whether it is a tiny space or an industrial loft, some with more character than others, these cafés are sprouting up all over the country from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching. Most of them have one thing in common – they take cues from the café culture in Australia, particularly the city of Melbourne. There, cafés can be found on almost every street, including industrial zones where old factories are repurposed into hip joints that contributed to a boom in coffee drinkers.

Here in Kuala Lumpur, one name should be familiar to coffee connoisseurs – The Read Bean Bag. Located in Publika, it was one of the first to introduce the so-called Melbournian café culture here when it opened in 2011.

Owners Lee Yew Kheong and Lin Lee had spent some time in Australia before returning to Malaysia in the middle of the last decade. Lee studied in Melbourne while Lin lived in Sydney for 10 years. “We were missing the café scene in Australia so much that we thought it would be a great idea to quit our jobs and run our own café,” laughs Lin, who is an architect by training.

“In Australia, the focus is on artisanal or specialty coffee. People are serious about their coffee and there is a great appreciation for it. That was absent in our coffee culture back then. We wanted to bring back the coffee that we had enjoyed drinking,” Lee adds.