When I was offered to write for this coffee column, I was a bit skeptical. Yes, coffee dominates my morning hours but no, I am not a coffee snob; I don’t brew coffee at home nor own a cupping spoon. But I know that I am becoming one because I started to prefer going to smaller cafés that serve specialty coffees. I like to experience difference taste of coffee blend or mixture while trying different side dish varieties.
I am still delving deeper into coffee but nonetheless, I took the challenge. And here I am.
Kuala Lumpur saw the rise of specialty coffee shops in the past couple of years and I suspect that there will be more popping up soon (I know a friend is in the middle of setting up one). *Coffee has been around since 15th century. Being only second to oil, coffee is the most valuable legally traded commodity in the world and it is estimated that 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed each day worldwide.
Coffee is ubiquitous and is not going anywhere anytime soon.
Knowing the potential in coffee business, Gilbert Kim — a Seoulite who has been living and working in Kuala Lumpur since 2003 — opened up a specialty coffee shop called Coffee Olle in December 2013.
I first tasted Coffee Olle’s cappucino last year. The taste was somewhat different from the other coffees that I had; it was excellent. When I came for my second coffee here for this article, I got to ask why it was so.
“My coffee is made up of four different kind of best selected Arabica that I bought from Brazil, Guatemala, Mandheling and Sidamo. I bought Arabica green coffee beans and do the roasting in-house,” replied Gilbert. I gave my ah-no-wonder look and shook my head.
I have never seen green beans before and asked to see it firsthand. My wish was quickly granted and Gilbert took out some of the green beans. Gilbert told me that the green beans were not ready to be roasted until he sorted the defected ones by hand. To do this, Gilbert pour a fair amount of the beans on a tray, divided them into sections and start sorting. And that was just a tray of beans that makes up two cups of coffee in my estimation. There’s more in the storage.
To me that’s a lot of work, but to Gilbert, who has an extensive coffee training background, it is essential for a serious coffee-lover (or should I say coffee-connoisseur?) like him to make sure that his coffees are of top quality. “One bad bean can spoil the whole taste,” he said while picking the defected ones out and showed me what peaberry looks like.
“Each step requires education and attention to detail,” he added while explaining the whole process of coffee, right from the bean to the cup. Talk about delving deeper into coffee from a coffee maestro. It was hard to chew all the information at once but I think I got the basic parts covered.
Coffee Olle —of which Olle derives from Jeju dialect that means ‘a narrow pathway that is connected from street to the front gate of a house’, serves coffee drinks like Espresso, Cappucino, Flat White, Macchiato, Affogato, Americano, all sort of lattes, iced Citron Americano and Bamboo Salt Caramel Latte that are priced from RM7 to RM13. Other than that, they also serve dishes that include Panini sandwiches (Wheat/Ciabatta/Focaccia), omelette, pastas, cakes, Bulgogi rice and salad that ranges from RM10 to RM16.
Having listed down the range of prices, I think the pricing is really reasonable. Coffee Olle may appear quite small from the outside, but it is actually quite spacious and has adjoining tables depending on the size of your friends in tow. It offers free Wi-Fi at a very good speed, perfect for Instagramming whatever is on your table.
After I wrapped the interview with Gilbert Kim, it was already lunch time. I had Shrimp Linguine with Mushroom sauce (served with cucumber pickles) and Iced Citron Americano. Pasta served with pickles may sound a bit strange but it was deliciously refreshing. As for the drink, I thought that it is very inventive of Coffee Olle to add orange cuts into the iced Americano. The taste was superb. Definitely a must try for coffee lovers out there.
If you are planning on visiting, you will find Coffee Olle at 26, Jalan 24/70a, Desa Sri Hartamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur. It opens daily from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 a.m. Kitchen closes at 9:00 p.m.
by Emila Yusof | Picture by Atiera