Drips worth a trip: Three out-of-town specialty coffee cafes

aboutBLUE lives up to its name with its all-blue facade and interiors. — Pictures by Vivian Chong
aboutBLUE lives up to its name with its all-blue facade and interiors. — Pictures by Vivian Chong

KUALA SELANGOR, Aug 21 — Where good coffee is concerned, you certainly won’t go thirsty within Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, with many established cafés and roasters while new players (including the occasional mobile coffee truck and pop-ups) add fresh excitement to the scene from time to time.

But what if you feel like heading out of the city but don’t want to miss out on your caffeine fix? These three specialty coffee cafés located on the fringes of the Klang Valley, are worth a trip for some good drips.

aboutBLUE Cafe takes up a corner of a tour operator's office where tourists can go on eagle-feeding cruises.
aboutBLUE Cafe takes up a corner of a tour operator's office where tourists can go on eagle-feeding cruises.

aboutBLUE Cafe

Between the seafood restaurants and eagle-feeding sunset cruises, the fishing village of Pasir Penambang in Kuala Selangor has no shortage of visitors, particularly on weekends.

Tour buses offload eager tourists who make a beeline for the latter before ending the day with a spread of the day’s best catches at the former.

Locals drive here for a weekend away, making sure to have an icebox in their car boot to cart home fresh seafood at low prices.

aboutBLUE opened last Christmas eve in Pasir Penambang, a fishing village in Kuala Selangor.
aboutBLUE opened last Christmas eve in Pasir Penambang, a fishing village in Kuala Selangor.

This is certainly not the kind of setting where you would expect to find a café let alone one that serves specialty coffees brewed either hand drip or siphon style.

The young proprietor, Alice Chan, cut her teeth at the now-defunct Typica Coffee in Shaw Parade for two years.

Choose from a small menu of single origin beans or ask Alice for her recommendation.
Choose from a small menu of single origin beans or ask Alice for her recommendation.

Escaping the city’s high rentals and craving a restful ambience within which one can truly sit back and enjoy every sip, she returned to her native Kuala Selangor and rented this little blue hut that’s part of a tour operator’s office and opened aboutBLUE Cafe last Christmas eve.

The petite space is, like its name, all decked out in blue outside and inside, with just four tables that can seat up to 12, and some high stools at the counter.

Postcards by a Taiwanese artist living in Malaysia on sale at aboutBLUE.
Postcards by a Taiwanese artist living in Malaysia on sale at aboutBLUE.

Bean options are handwritten on a small chalkboard but tell her your preference and she may recommend something off-menu.

With fresh grapes and a chewy grape jelly, this is one of aboutBLUE’s most popular cheesecakes.
With fresh grapes and a chewy grape jelly, this is one of aboutBLUE’s most popular cheesecakes.

Pair your coffee with her homemade cheese cakes, which come in interesting variants such as dragonfruit topped with marshmallow, fresh grapes and a shiny grape jelly, or matcha with marshmallows and chocolate. Moist, creamy and with well-balanced sugar levels, they go down a treat with the coffees.
No. 1, Jalan Bagan Sungai Yu, Pasir Penambang, Kuala Selangor
Tel:
016-776 0334 Opens 11am-9pm, Thu-Sun

Cafe 12 is an unexpected gem hidden in the sleepy town of Semenyih.
Cafe 12 is an unexpected gem hidden in the sleepy town of Semenyih.

12 Cafe

The wooden single-storey structure is typical of Chinese new village homes, although the well-lit signboard indicates that there is more to it than meets the eye.

Cafe 12’s menu comprises a variety of drinks and a small selection of cakes.
Cafe 12’s menu comprises a variety of drinks and a small selection of cakes.

Indeed, this decades-old building was a family residence where Lee Hai Oh grew up, and he has since converted it into a café that’s also a treasure trove for vintage lovers.

Plastic kitchen accessories fashioned into lamps that form part of Cafe 12's eclectic decor.
Plastic kitchen accessories fashioned into lamps that form part of Cafe 12's eclectic decor.

Rich colours coat the interiors and every corner is decked out in retro furniture, antique collectibles or vintage knick-knacks (the ones displayed inside a glass cabinet are for sale).

This salvaged train carriage is now a Western food station that fronts Cafe 12.
This salvaged train carriage is now a Western food station that fronts Cafe 12.

Outside, a salvage train carriage functions as the cooking station of a Western steakhouse managed by two locals, who rent the space from Lee. You can order some sizzling chops, Swedish meatballs, nachos or tortilla wrap and on a balmy evening, dine al fresco on the front porch.

Lee Hai Oh uses the Hario V60 for his hand drip coffees.
Lee Hai Oh uses the Hario V60 for his hand drip coffees.

In a semi-open area to the side of the main house is where Lee plays barista, serving gourmet coffee brewed using the Hario V60, at just RM10 per cup.

Coffee and cakes at Cafe 12.
Coffee and cakes at Cafe 12.

Cafe 12 — so named as it was founded on December 12, 2012 — occasionally hosts flea markets and movie screenings that are meant to bring the local community together.

One of many photogenic corners at Cafe 12.
One of many photogenic corners at Cafe 12.

Open only in the evenings, this unexpected gem in quiet Semenyih is a delightful place to chill over some hot food and good coffee, within a homey aura that one imagines is probably not too far off from the ambience that Lee grew up in.
131, Jalan Semenyih, Semenyih
Tel:
011-1231 4432 Opens 5pm-12.30am, Tue-Sun; closed Mon
https://www.facebook.com/twelve12cafe

3B Drip & Dutch marks Will Jung's return to the local coffee retail scene.
3B Drip & Dutch marks Will Jung's return to the local coffee retail scene.

3B Drip & Dutch Cafe Gallery

South Korean coffee connoisseur Will Jung has been living in Malaysia for five years now, and first made a name on the local coffee scene with a café specialising in hand drips, in Mont Kiara.

3B currently serves coffees, teas and cakes only.
3B currently serves coffees, teas and cakes only.

He later sold it off to focus on his roastery but has now returned to the retail front with this spanking new café in a modern industrial grey brick complex near the Hospital Sungai Buloh.

Shop a good range of Korean coffee accessories at 3B.
Shop a good range of Korean coffee accessories at 3B.

Complementing the aesthetics, this new café is minimalist and monochromatic, with the only bright colours provided by the shelves of coffee accessories that are for sale.

The name is quite a mouthful and requires some explanation. 3B stands for Three Bears, the brand under which all the cafe’s beans are roasted. Besides hand drip coffee, 3B’s other specialty is Dutch coffees, a method of cold brew that takes longer than the usual techniques and produces a more aromatic beverage.

Part of the bean selection at 3B.
Part of the bean selection at 3B.

3B offers four variants of Dutch coffees: Latte, Caramel, Mocha and Premium Black. To enjoy the brews at their best, you must first shake the bottles so that the liquid foams at the top before pouring them over ice cubes. This, Jung says, delivers a smoother sensation.

For hand drips, there’s a wide variety of beans available or tell Jung your preference and he can create a blend on the spot. Korean flower teas are also on the menu along with delicate desserts specially created by Xiao by Crustz.

Shaken, not stirred - 3B's Dutch coffees come in four variants (left). Will Jung, owner of 3B Drip & Dutch, preparing a hand drip for a customer (right).
Shaken, not stirred - 3B's Dutch coffees come in four variants (left). Will Jung, owner of 3B Drip & Dutch, preparing a hand drip for a customer (right).

Their signature Three Bears tart comes with a tiny bottle of the Premium Black Dutch coffee, which you spritz directly onto the dessert to infuse it with a rich coffee aroma and caffeine kick.

A spritz of Premium Black to bring out the best of this signature tart created by Xiao by Crustz
A spritz of Premium Black to bring out the best of this signature tart created by Xiao by Crustz

Try the tart before and after spraying on the coffee and you will discern a marked improvement in taste.

Currently, 3B does not serve food but Jung plans to add gimbap (Korean sushi) to the menu along with Korean desserts.
21-G & 1, LGSB ¼, Pusat Komersil LGSB, Off Jalan Hospital, Sungai Buloh
Tel:
011-1434 6778 Opens 11am-8pm, Wed-Thu; 11am-12am, Fri-Sun; closed Mon-Tues.

Vivian Chong cannot imagine life BC (before coffee). Read about her other food hunts at thisbunnyhops.com

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