Malaysian coffee is to be experienced, and to be clear, coffee and Kopi are two different drinks.
Coffee is what the whole world knows as coffee and Kopi, this is the real Malaysian coffee and is roasted in a stand-out different way that brings out the flavors of the beans and the ingredients used and then brewed and enjoyed in a traditional way.
Keep reading and enjoy this guide about Malaysian coffee.
How Did Coffee Come to Malaysia?
Malaysia is more famous for its tea than its coffee, it sure looks like that is slowly changing. The like and love for coffee in Malaysia, in true Malaysian style, was influenced by various cultures, from Arab traders bringing the beverage to the Island nation to the British colonialists and the migrant Chinese tin miners.
The exact singular starting point is difficult to pin down and is somewhat lost in history.
What we do know is the Kopi culture can absolutely be attributed to the Chinese migrant tin miners and from there the popularity of coffee and Kopi started to become more popular.
With that being said teh tarik, poured tea is still the national drink. The Kopi equivalent, kopi tarik, is found everywhere!
Read: Malaysian white coffee
Can Coffee Be Cultivated in Malaysia?
Yes, coffee can be grown and cultivated in Malaysia, but they don’t produce a lot.
The bean that dominates is Robusta and Liberica, while some other websites may claim that Arabica beans are the main variety, this is not the case as Malaysia does not have the conditions, particularly the altitude, to for Arabica beans to thrive.
90% 1.8 million to 2 million 60 kg sacks of Liberica coffee are produced by Malaysia every year. The remaining 10% is robusta beans.
Arabica beans are not grown as they have lower yields at low altitudes and are more susceptible to disease. The Robusta and Liberica beans are hardier and, to use a term, more robust and resistant to disease and require less maintenance.
How Is Malaysian Coffee Made?
Malaysian coffee is usually enjoyed as a Kopi O, Kopi Putih, Kopi Tarik or one of the many other Kopi beverages. Where the enjoyment and elaboration starts with how their beans are roasted.
How Malaysian Coffee Is Roasted?
Malaysian coffee styled in the Kopi style is roasted in a very unique way where their beans are roasted with margarine, sugar, wheat and a sprinkling of salt is used in an 80% coffee beans and 20% of the added ingredients mentioned.
In certain brands, butter or oil is used instead of margarine and some use sesame seeds.
The coffee beans are well mixed in the solution and then roasted at a low temperature (196C (385F)) for 25 minutes.
Halfway through the roasting the beans are checked and a dash of salt is added. When the roasting process has almost finished, sugar is added to sweeten and achieve a caramelized flavor.
Malaysia and Singapore are the only coffee roasters in the world to double roast their beans, which makes their process double unique due to the ingredients added and the double roasting. At Latte Love Brew, we encourage you to get in on the home roasting revolution!
Despite Kopi Putih translating to white coffee, it is not a white coffee in the sense of a white coffee roast (also known as a half roast) as the beans are roasted at a similarly low temperature but for much longer.
The actual roast levels that the beans are taken to is a city or full city roast.
The flavor comes from both the roasting process, the ingredients and the Robusta and Liberica coffee beans used.
Liberica and robusta beans are floral, fruity and earthy.
Once the roasting process is complete, the beans are poured onto a series of rectangular trays and then dried into slabs.
Once the slabs are dried. They are then ground and ready to brew coffee with.
Malaysian coffee comes in all forms from instant coffee powder to preground beans and whole beans. They also have coffee bags where you brew your coffee bag in the same manner that you would brew tea.
The caramel-nutty flavors of Malaysian coffee are perfect for a number of South East Asian coffee beverages.
How Is Malaysian Coffee Brewed?
Malaysian coffee is brewed using a coffee sock. Coffee grounds are added to the sock and then the full immersion steep brewing is used.
A standard 1:10 coffee to water ratio is used.
Malaysians use a tall coffee pot with a large spout to brew their Kopi beverages. The reason for such a device is due to it encouraging a pour from a height which creates a foam.
It is very common for evaporated milk and condensed milk to be used in milk-based kopi beverages.
Frequently Asked Questions For Malaysian Coffee
Is Malaysia Famous For Coffee?
Malaysia is not particularly famous for coffee or their coffee culture, not in the same light of say Italy, Brazil, Colombia or Vietnam is in the coffee world which is pretty sad as they do have a rightful place due to their unique stand-out coffee beverages and Kopi and Kopitiam culture.
The white coffee (Kopi Putih) and the traditional Malaysian coffee shop known as Kopitiams who use Malaysian coffee beans which are freshly roasted robusta beans and liberica beans and roasted in their own unique way with Margarine, sugar and salt and then brewed using a coffee sock with evaporated milk or condensed milk.
Every true coffee lover knows or should know that Malaysian coffee culture should have a greater place in the coffee world.
After all, they have their own unique roasting method and a coffee culture around their Kopi beverages – which is slightly different from what non-Malaysians would call coffee.
Does Malaysia Have Good Coffee?
Malaysia is not known for their specialty coffee or for producing high quality coffee. While they do have Arabica beans, the majority of the coffee produced is Robusta coffee bean and Liberica coffee bean.
Despite being outside the top 50 for coffee producers, Malaysia is one of the leading producers of the Liberica coffee bean.
While not specialty grade or labeled as a single origin, Malaysia coffee is good in my opinion, not fantastic but better than good is a fair description and opinion.
They certainly deserve their place in the coffee world for the “Kopi culture” and the traditional Kopitiams with the tasty beverages made with sweetened condensed milk or evaporated milk and the little snacks that are often served with them. Kopi Tarik and nasi lemak a must-have!
Where Is Malaysian Coffee From?
Most of Malaysian coffee is grown in East Malaysia with Sabah, Johor and Sengalor as well as Tenom being the key coffee growing regions.
In the North and Klang Valley areas, the mountains are not high enough or simply do not have the right conditions for coffee production.
What Coffee Is Used In Kopitiam?
Kopitiams use Malaysian Robusta or Liberica beans or a blend of them. A Kopitiam, a traditional Malaysian coffee house, serves the Kopi beverages that are roasted with Margarine (or butter) sugar with a dash of salt added.
Does Malaysia Produce Coffee?
Malaysia produces between 2 and 2.2 million 60 kg sacks of coffee per year which is a long way behind leading producers Brazil (35M 60 kg sacks per year), Vietnam (30 Million 60 Kg sacks per year), Colombia (12.5M 60 Kg sacks per year) and Indonesia (11.5M 60 Kg sacks per year).
Currently Malaysia is the 60th leading producer of coffee in the world over all and one of the leading producers of the rare Liberica coffee beans. To give you an idea 60% of the world coffee sold is Arabica beans, 30% Robusta, 7% Liberica and 3% Excelsa beans.
It is that 7% (Liberica) that Malaysia dominates. If you have never tried Liberica coffee – a good place to go and find them is Malaysia.
What Is The Most Popular Coffee In Malaysia?
The most popular coffee in Malaysia is Kopi Tarik, which is enjoyed by the Malay community and seems to be particularly popular among this group.
Kopi Putih, Malaysian white coffee, be it Penang white coffee, Ipoh white coffee or any of the other popular brands, is very popular with the Malaysian-Chinese community.
Malaysia is a multicultural nation with Malay, Chinese and Indian communities. There are also pockets of Philippines and Thai nationals. Each have their own customs, cultures and coffee preferences.
In Penang State, the only State where Chinese is an official language alongside English and Malay, Kopi Puti (white coffee) is very popular, in Klang Valley, the area which hosts the Capital Kuala Lumpur Kopi Tarik is more popular.
Final Thoughts – Malaysian Coffee
Malaysia may not be a great producer of coffee based on coffee export nor are they known for their coffee culture, but that does not detract from the quality or fun of their stand-out Kopi culture.
Malaysian coffee certainly deserves to be much better known among coffee lovers and coffee enthusiasts and is definitely a place to visit to enjoy that vibrant culture and taste coffee that is double roasted using margarine and sugar.
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