Penang Island is the most diverse, cosmopolitan and multicultural area in Malaysia. Its main city and urban centre, George Town, is known as a culinary capital with irresistible street food, a home of the art and multicultural mixes. It is UNESCO World Heritage Site and you can find here Chinese temples in Little India and mosques in Chinatown, along with skyscrapers and huge shopping complexes. Specialty coffee scene is present and still growing. I visited 4 specialty coffee shops, which I will present below. Of course, I recommend all of them.
1. MACALLUM CONNOISSEURS
This coffee shop and roastery is the biggest and from my point of view, one of the most professional place in George Town. It has a generous space and an industrial design, hall type, with an island bar which allows you to see the baristas at work.
They incorporate the roastery, separated by the coffee shop through a glass wall, as well as the barista academy, being certified to train both baristas, but also individuals looking to learn how to work with the coffee.
They roast coffee on a 4 kg Bella, a Taiwanese roasting machine. In the coffee shop they have a 3 groups Victoria Arduino espresso machine. I tasted an espresso from the house blend containing Ethiopia/Guatemala/Brazil and it was excellent, very well balanced. Second espresso was from a single origin, Panama Boquete Kotowa Estate, with a good body, chocolate aroma and sweet acidity.
Everything in this place is very well arranged, the people are highly professional and deeply involved in the business. As they say, “perfection is sixth sense to a connoisseur”.
If you get to George Town, Macallum is a must visit. Please, don’t miss it!
Address: 1, Gat Lebuh Macallum, George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
2. SPACEBAR COFFEE (in AWESOME CANTEEN at SEKEPING VICTORIA)
Spacebar Coffee is Joachim’s project of popup bar and is located inside of Awesome Canteen at Sekeping Victoria. Jo is involved in educational project in regards of teaching people about coffee and he is also head barista at Spacebar.
The place is absolutely amazing, a huge building hiding in the back an interior courtyard where they arranged the serving of coffee and food. You will find an ingenious concrete bar, chairs made from metallic wires and even a few old and big trees inside the courtyard.
They brew on a Kees van der Westen Spirit Triplette with levers and foot pedal for steaming, belonging to Awesome Canteen. A great, vintage machine that is no longer in production. Artisan Roasters from Kuala Lumpur roasts the coffee for them and I had the chance to taste a V60 from a Costa Rica which was sweet, with honey and figs notes.
I absolutely recommend this place, go and sit at the bar, talk to Jo about coffee and enjoy a great cup.
Address: 164A-B, Lebuh Victoria, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
3. THE MUGSHOT CAFÉ
This coffee shop is located in the heart of the George Town, around the heritage area. It’s a busy place serving great coffees and it has hippie decorations with all kind of wall paintings and small tables painted in light colours.
They own a Nuova Simonelli and I had a great espresso made from Indonesian and Brazilian beans (I couldn’t get more information). I also tasted a cold brew, roasted and brewed by Rasta Brew Co, so it is not Mugshot’s product, they just sell it. Prices are on the high side, but the place is very nice and coffees are very good.
Address: 302, Lebuh Chulia, George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
4. THE ALLEY
We found this coffee shop while roaming around the streets of George Town and it was a very nice surprise. It is a small and cosy place with a nice bar counter and a combination of industrial and wood decoration.
They own a Synesso espresso machine and I had one espresso made from the house blend, Kenya/Brazil/Ethiopia, which was very well balanced, almonds smell, sweet and nutty taste, low acidity. They have a nice selection of coffees for brew as well, but because it was late in the evening, I kept it only to an espresso. It’s a place worth visiting, very close to the famous non-stop liquor store Antarabangsa Enterprise, where a lot of people use to gather in the evenings for cheap alcohol.
Address: 5, Lorong Stewart, George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Have you been to George Town? Did you visit any specialty coffee shop from my list, or even other ones?