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The alley coffee stall that has been around for over 60 years

Charcoal toasted bread with half-boiled eggs and coffee. – Pictures by K.E.Ooi
Charcoal toasted bread with half-boiled eggs and coffee. – Pictures by K.E.Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, Jan 7 — Every morning, and especially on weekends, a long queue snakes out from a narrow alleyway off Campbell Street here.

The people in the queue are patiently waiting their turn for seats inside the famed Toh Soon Coffee stall that has been serving up Hainan-style toast and coffee since 1955.

(And yes, the stall is IN the alley.)

Mrs Ooi helps at Toh Soon coffee stall
Mrs Ooi helps at Toh Soon coffee stall

Back in the fifties, Ooi Toh Soon set up the small humble coffee stall in this narrow alley sandwiched between some shophouses.

He started out with just simple breakfast fare of coffee, toast and half-boiled eggs.

Today, his son operates the stall with his wife and a team of workers. (People refer to the of workers (People refer to the couple simply as Mr and Mrs Ooi).

Crispy charcoal toasted bread
Crispy charcoal toasted bread

The stall is much the same with its small counter against the wall with large umbrellas and an awning to provide shade for the metal tables and chairs placed along the alley.

Till today, the traditional Hainan-style coffee served at the coffee stall is a favourite among locals.

“We commissioned a factory to make the coffee in accordance to our own recipe, that’s why it is different from coffee served elsewhere,” Mrs Ooi said.

Coffee prepared in three different ways
Coffee prepared in three different ways

The preparation of the coffee is also done the traditional way; it is filtered, or rather slowly dripped into a tin mug, and then it is again poured into another filter before mixing with hot water and milk.

Watching Mrs Ooi make the coffee, you realise that it is not only hipster specialty coffee shops that have the monopoly on coffee-making.

Toh Soon’s coffee is so well-known that they have started packaging their coffee into instant coffee packets and selling them.

The stall is also known for slices of soft, fluffy Hainan white bread toasted over charcoal embers.

Toh Soon Coffee along a narrow alley off Campbell Street
Toh Soon Coffee along a narrow alley off Campbell Street

Traditionally, the bread was steamed and then slathered with butter and a sprinkling of sugar on top.

Now you have the option of charcoal toasted bread and a choice of butter, homemade kaya or homemade peanut butter.

Not a fan of Hainan bread? They also have wholemeal bread, coffee bread and chocolate bread.

Toh Soon Coffee

Off Campbell Street, George Town.

Time: 8am-6.30pm

Closed on Mondays

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