Posts tagged latte

Coffee shoot-out results

Well, someone commented that matching up the Starbucks Christmas blend against 5 Senses blend is like trying to get the Malaysian football team to play against Brazil or something.Well, a shootout is a shoot-out.

Well, in the end, that may be true. It’s 5 Senses by a 4-0 score (and out of 4 tasters too).


Pop open the 5 Senses bag and you get immediately hit with that aromatic caffeinated goodness that coffee is all about. The Christmas blend from Starbucks, well, it has that coffee aroma but it doesn’t hit you in the face so much. Pour the beans into the grinder and it doesn’t offer up much aroma either. Grind up a couple of shots worth of 5 Senses and your kitchen is guaranteed to smell like a coffee shop. 5 Senses 1, Starbucks 0.


I can’t say when the Christmas blend was roasted but I managed to pull quite a number of shots with crema on it. This contrasts with many of the other Starbucks coffees where pulling a shot with any volume of crema is close to hitting the lottery or something. It’s fresher than their other coffees but against the 5 Senses is like night and day. A friend whom I’ve given the coffee in ziplock bags labelled A and B commented — pull one shot and you already know which one is fresh and they other not. Again, the score is not pretty. 5 Senses 1, Starbucks 0.


Guess which coffee tasted over-roasted and a bit burnt? Don’t need to say more do I? All four tasters including myself came to the same conclusion. The Starbucks Christmas blend tastes like burnt Christmas pudding or something. Bitter, burnt flavor was prevalent, hiding the generally spicy flavors that the beans had. After a couple of shots, I had to resort to adding syrup to my coffee which doesn’t bode well. On the other hand, four out of four agreed that the medium bodied 5 senses really had that nutty, fruity smoothness that comes from careful blending and roasting of select beans. Again, it’s a 1-0 score.

Finally, let’s talk economics. a 1kg bag of 5 senses will set you back about RM190.  They’re only a week old from roasting though and compared to the Christmas blend which retails for about RM40 for 250gm bag (or RM160 per kg), the numbers don’t stack up well. For only a few more ringgit (18% to be exact), you get coffee that’s guaranteed fresher, more aromatic and full of flavor. If you’re counting espresso shots, it’s RM2.67 per double-shot for the 5 Senses and RM2.25 for the Starbucks Christmas blend. Knockout!

I know that 5 senses is my Christmas coffee this year and years to come. So much so that I’m getting my bag of Yirgacheffe single origin the week before Christmas. If you don’t agree with me, swing by my place and let me pull you two shots and you’ll taste the world of a difference.

If you’re coming in to our Studio for your photography sessions, I’ve got 5 senses for ya!


Coffee Shootout, part 1

In one corner, we have 5 senses blend from Australia, roasting date was 7 November and in another corner, we have the popular Starbucks Christmas blend. Unfortunately, Starbucks doesn’t list their roast date so I wouldn’t know. However, since the Christmas blend is usually produced during the year-end period, it’s at least in late October or early November.

Well, our freshness test will tell soon enough. I’ve beans distributed to a couple of friends with espresso machines and who’ve come to know what good coffee tastes like. Results are trickling in and I should be able to have the results tallied by end of this week.

The judging criteria: freshness, aroma and taste. Of course I expect taste to be subjective but at least your home should smell lovely after grinding and pulling a shot or two and you should have some lovely creme on top your pulled shot. My score is done but I’m not telling/sharing until I get the other results in.

Tallying the results now so stay tuned for which Coffee is going to be served at my place during Christmas!

Coffee Ritual, SS14, PJ

I’ve been hearing about coffee ritual for some time now from my coffee loving friends but have not even had the time to drop by this entire year. No time until yesterday. I was actually going to pick up my coffee grinder (Isomac Professionale) from one of Malaysia’s coffee connoisseurs, KF Chan of Coffee in Malaysia fame.

Since I wasn’t there to really to savor the food, I won’t comment on them. Coffee was great however. After testing out the grinder, we had some shots pulled from from a Vibiemme Domobar Junior. All in, the coffee is superior to any coffee chain in Malaysia except for the milk. I prefer my coffees with milk although I do occasionally drink them black. The problem is our local milk really doesn’t taste that good. Perhaps a change to farmhouse brand Australian milk might help.

The Bread Shop

With a recent office relocation came the need to search for good, quick and nearby food. One thing about Kay-El is that you normally don’t find good bread. We did go to LeVain Boulangerie Patisserie a while back and the only problem with LeVain was distance and besides the atmosphere, the food is just above average. Coffee was also down to the individual barista. On two occasions that I was there, the coffee was noticeably worse than the previous visit a week earlier. Their breads, well, pretty great but it must depend on your basis for comparison. If I would prefer a more Asian twist to my breads, LeVain would meet that criteria. If you’re going for the European flavor, LeVain does disappoint somewhat.

So, it was a pleasure to find a little bakery and cafe tucked into the quiet nestles of Bukit Damansara (Damansara Hill) and within five minutes drive from my office. The coffee is consistently good (ten visits in three weeks) and their breads and pastries are simply up to mark. Of course not everything will satisfy everyone but to me, their white bread is simply the best. The cranberry walnut loaf is also good enough to eat it on it’s own… to paraphrase another bread maker’s slogan but this one is really special. I’d rate Bread shop a notch above LeVain. The modernistic concrete styling just complements the aroma and luscious softness of their breads and pastries. I’m a fan for sure!

The prices are also quite fair. It’s no more expensive than LeVain, Bread Story or Delifrance. The only pity is that they close on public holidays and Sundays but I really love it when I can pop in at 8am for a delicious croissant and latte before getting into the office!

The Bread Shop
11, Jalan Setiakasih 5,
Bukit Damansara,
50490 Kuala Lumpur

Home Espresso shots (continued)

The past three weeks have been kinda strange as I’m been mostly in my home (and home office and home studio too!).

Obviously, that meant that I’ve lots of time to work on my espresso pulling on my Evolution. So far, I’ve found that fresh beans will produce superb crema and obviously, taste and aroma as well. Starbucks beans are nicely roasted but are weeks old when you buy them at their stores. Even this pricey tin of espresso from Illy wasn’t fresh enough.

For regular people like me who love their coffee but aren’t too anal about 100% freshness, Coffex provides the easiest solution. As the beans are roasted in Australia and air-flown, you are mostly guaranteed some semblance of freshness. How fresh? No beans I’ve tried (Boncafe, Illy, Starbucks, etc) provided me with instant lovely crema right out of the Evolution and the aroma is absolutely fantastic. My house smells like a little cafe after pulling a couple of shots.

Here’s 18 grams of Coffex Superbar tamped nicely and ready to go!

And of course, the results! Look at that lovely crema!

And my morning double-shot ready to get me started!

The Bee, Jaya One

One early Saturday morning, we found ourselves near the vicinity of Jalan University. Needing breakfast, we made our decision to head to Jaya One. We arrived at the Bee about 9:45am in the morning. It seems that on weekends, they only have their brunch menu which excludes their burgers. So much for that. The Kitchen is also not open till 10am.

Oh, well, it’s only another fifteen minutes. Ordered a latte which came in decent time. The latte was done reasonably well. Probably the beans weren’t as fresh but still pretty decent. Starbucks can pull a decent latte too but their beans are weeks to a month old. Would I expect a cafe like the Bee to have fresher beans? Possibly, but I don’t know the traffic pattern or output to judge.

The waitstaff seem to be rather disorganized and are unable to keep up with even four tables occupied. Our food arrived after a fairly long while – like twenty-five minutes. It’s not like they were full but I’d hate to be sitting there when the place is overflowing with people. Taste wise, nothing to shout about but overall good filling meals. The banana-peanut butter toast was pretty unique and flavorful.

Done with our breakfast (or brunch), we called for the bill. That took another ten minutes and we decided to put it on the card. The nice thing about my Citibank Visa is that the points can be used to buy anything. Of course, the rate isn’t fantastic — they’re a bank and they’re out to make money from you but if you gotta use the money anyway, might as well build up the points to get something… like a new lens or refrigerator, etc. Back to the Bee. The credit slip took them another fifteen minutes to produce for us to sign. Overall, waiting for service, waiting for food and waiting to sign the credit card slip took longer than our entire meal.

Bottom line (NPS-like) is I don’t think I’d recommend friends to the Bee, or at least I’d be neutral which means “negative” in NPS-speak. Food-wise ok but I’d need to try the burgers so means I’d be going back, at least one more time. If the service-delays persist, it’ll be my last.