Understanding Malaysian Coffee Culture

Malaysian Coffee Culture

Once upon a time, the majority of Malaysians chose tea as their choice of beverage when starting an early morning or when sitting down for a mid-afternoon pick me up. As time progressed, we have seen a shift towards an increase in coffee consumption in Malaysia, a shift that can be largely attributed to the younger generation and their pull towards a more western lifestyle. In the last 2 decades, coffee consumption rates in Malaysia have rapidly risen, with more and more designer cafes and coffee shops popping up all around the country. In today’s article, we have a look at Malaysian coffee culture and how the nation has evolved over time to become one of the world’s trendiest hotspots for everything coffee related. 

The Shift From Tea to Coffee in Malaysia 

In a once predominantly tea-drinking country, coffee now stands synonymously with western culture. Thanks to the rise of the internet, the younger generation in Malaysia has had enormous exposure to all things western. With that comes the desire to lead a more western-centric lifestyle that, as you guessed, involves coffee. At the same time, as more and more people start to have a more stable disposable, sitting down for a slice of cake and a latte at a trendy cafe or coffee house has now become the norm for many Malaysians all around the country. 

Old Coffee Culture VS New Coffee Culture

Even though Malaysia was once a predominantly tea-drinking country, Malaysians are no strangers to coffee. The main difference between old Malaysian coffee culture vs new Malaysian coffee culture involves the type, style, flavours and standard of living associated with various types of coffee varieties.

1. Traditional Malaysian Coffee

Head to any small “coffee shop” or hawker store in Malaysia and you’ll find hawkers pouring hot streams of coffee from one vessel into another, thus creating the iconic “Kopi” — a hot coffee beverage sweetened with copious amounts of condensed milk and frothed to perfection. Other traditional types of Malaysian coffee beverages include “Kopi-O”, “Kopi-C” and “Kopi Kosong” — all varieties of coffee that include different amounts of milk and sweetener. 

Unlike fancy upscale cafes that create intricate latte art and use artisan blends of coffee beans, you’ll find that traditional coffee culture in Malaysia is more about purchasing a refreshing hot beverage that only costs a few cents but gives you the perk you need during an afternoon slump. These drinks are often enjoyed in modest environments such as traditional “coffee shops” and restaurants and don’t come with any fancy garnishes, cups or ingredients. 

2. New Age Coffee Culture In Malaysia

In contrast, the younger generation in Malaysia now lives for all things fancy, especially when it comes to their coffee. With American coffee chains such as Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Coffee Bean and many more popping up all over the nation, it is no wonder that younger Malaysians now thoroughly enjoy and appreciate fancy latte art, delicious iced frappuccinos and chai lattes in the comfort of an air-conditioned coffee store that comes with comfortable chairs, tables and of course, free wifi connection. 

With the rise of social media, we also see more and more young Malaysians embracing what they see on social media platforms such as Instagram. Latte art, Dalgona Coffee and Pumpkin Spice Lattes are now staples in every young Malaysian’s life. These high-end coffee beverages come with a higher price than traditional Malaysian coffee, but with more and more Malaysians now making a stable income, this doesn’t seem to be a problem in 2020. In fact, we see more and more offices now purchasing corporate coffee machines to ensure that their employees are well-caffeinated throughout the day! It is safe to say that drinking coffee is most certainly now a lifestyle to younger Malaysians.

The Rise Of The Coffee Industry in Malaysia 

A recent survey showed that the average Malaysian drinks 2.38 cups of coffee each day. This rise in coffee consumption has been cultivated by the continued expansion of global brands such as Starbucks that bring in the “cafe culture” from the West. At the same time, local Malaysian brands such as Old Town White Coffee and Kopitiam also cultivate the coffee drinking culture amongst the older generation of Malaysians. According to an industry report. total coffee sales in Malaysia added up to approximately RM 61 Mil in 2009 and is set to keep on growing! 

Coffee shops and cafes provide the perfect ambience for both young and older Malaysian residents to socialise, relax or catch up with friends over a hot and steaming cuppa. It is safe to say that coffee drinking is now an all-day activity and no longer just saved for a morning pick me up.  Even late at night, you’ll find coffee houses in Malaysia packed with customers who are sipping iced lattes and cappuccinos well into the wee hours of the morning.  

In Conclusion

In conclusion, we can confidently say that coffee culture is something that is only going to gain more and more momentum in Malaysia as the years pass. With more cafes, trends and the impact of western influence in Malaysia, the coffee industry is one that is set to continue thriving for many more decades to come! 


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