PETALING JAYA, Feb 15 — It’s the doughnut of your dreams. Fluffy from a yeast batter, filled to the brim with luscious blackcurrant jelly, glazed with creamy peanut butter and topped with crunchy peanuts.
This is Patina by Three’s signature PB&J (Peanut Butter & Jelly) and it’s heavenly. Indeed, when the motto of the shop is “Round food for every mood”, you know you’re in for a fun time.
Located in Damansara Utama, Patina by Three is a café specialising in artisanal doughnuts and coffee.
The shop was founded in mid-2018 by Calvin Tan, Ahmed Nadzmi Azli (Jimmy) and Hamzah Ariffin; they first met as part of KL and PJ’s small circle of coffee professionals.
The 26-year-old Calvin has been making coffee for five years at cafés including The Grumpy Cyclist and Molecules. Jimmy, 28, was a former baker at Artisan Roast TTDI before working as a barista at Butter + Beans, Podgy and The Banker, Thursdvys and Molecules.
Hamzah, 30, is a pilot for Firefly. He, too, had previously worked at cafés such as Artisan Roast PJ and Sudo Brew. Given his day job, Hamzah isn’t always at the shop which is manned by Calvin and Jimmy.
The trio felt it was only natural for them to try and start up their own business after some years in the industry.
Calvin says, “As much as we love what we do, I’d say it’s still pretty tough for someone to make a career out of making coffee here in Malaysia. There isn’t really much opportunities for baristas to progress on to.”
Instead of only doing coffee, however, they decided they needed something else to set them apart from the rest of the cafés in town.
Hamzah explains, “When we were planning the café, we realised a lot of our preferred doughnut places weren’t around any more, and there definitely wasn’t any artisanal doughnut places. So why not combine our love for both?”
The doughnut and coffee experience begins with peering into their glass display where an assortment of their homemade artisanal doughnuts awaits invitingly. Deciding on which one or just one can be a masochistic endeavour.
Besides the classic PB&J yeast doughnut, you could also try their chocolate banana doughnut, which is more of a cake doughnut and more crumbly rather than fluffy. Special occasions call for special doughnuts: last year, they had mummies and spiders for Halloween.
Creating the doughnuts was a bit of a team effort. Calvin says, “One of our friends, Hafiz, is actually a baker and runs his own brand called Snatch Pastries. We enlisted his help to produce a couple base recipes as well as teach us the basics of what we’d need.”
Currently the doughnuts are made daily by Calvin and his mother, who bakes from home. He says, “We started out with baked doughnuts, traditional yeast doughnuts and crullers.”
The latter is a wonder of fried dough — crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Covered with honey and sea salt flakes, Patina by Three’s crullers are best enjoyed with one of their piccolo lattes. For coffee, they use a variety of beans from purveyors such as local roaster House of Kendal.
While Patina by Three has a steady stream of customers now, things weren’t that easy in the beginning. Jimmy says, “One of our bigger trials early on was the fact that none of us actually had prior training in baking. It took many days of practice to produce an outcome and consistency that we were happy with.”
The shop’s location in a quieter part of Damansara Utama was another challenge. Jimmy says, “We’ve had some issues with foot traffic as we weren’t located in a busy part of Uptown, so some marketing had to be done to further spread our reach.”
Their efforts via social media have paid off handsomely. Many customers come after seeing unique doughnuts on their Instagram page or thanks to word of mouth. Nowadays regulars have their own favourites so the trio know which to keep on the menu.
Calvin says, “One of our most popular doughnuts isn’t exactly a doughnut at all. It’s actually the cruller, which is a choux pastry like that of a cream puff. This was something inspired from our travels to doughnut places around the world and something we wanted to introduce here.”
Another favourite is the Pandan Gula Melaka. It started out as a limited time Merdeka week special, but customers loved it so much the trio had to keep it on their menu for a good couple months.
One way to ensure their offerings always stay fresh is to experiment with different batters for their baked doughnuts. Calvin says, “For example, it seemed obvious that the best way to infuse some local flavours into our doughnuts was to simply make a batter of pandan based doughnuts. We piped some gula Melaka caramel in the middle and finished it with a santan glaze and toasted coconut.”
The trio are planning to experiment further with doughnut flavours as well as other pastries. Jimmy says, “We’re also looking into serving up hot foods but we’re still in the midst of R&D for what would best fit our space and current offerings.
"Aside from that, we’re looking forward to doing more pop-up doughnut booths and events as we’ve always had a good time with these.”
Perhaps it’s all about the experience. The name Patina came about when they were looking for some antiques and furniture for their café.
Calvin recalls, “Patina is a thin layer that forms over materials like wood, metal or stones over much use or through ageing. And to us that’s what we saw in our space. It is the accumulation of all our experience and it is also a place where we continue to grow and age well.”