fairly consistent in quality and presentation but the franchisees under this chain have different practices. the one at gardens mid valley gives out loyalty cards - one free coffee with every 10 stamps - but they're only valid at that outlet.


publika d1-g4-6 solaris dutamas opens 11am-6pm, tue-sun tel 03 6211 0662 walk through namoo on the park (on level g3), head out and walk across to the row of shops opposite. take the lift one floor up. turn left upon exiting the lift and the outlet is on yr immediate left. espressolab began as a coffee roaster and training academy before going retail, and this appears to be the hq (ie the lab). it looks more like a coffee warehouse than a cafe.

gardens level 1, opposite tgif and at the start of the skybridge that links to mid valley also on the menu mille crepes and pastries

bsc inside times bookstore opens 11am-9pm  


coffee stain by joseph

joseph @ kitchen started as a western cafe at publika before revamping itself - and its menu - to be a specialty coffee joint. its a cheerful outlet with white walls and yellow accents, a nice departure from the usual exposed bricks and slate walls most of kl's coffee cafes tend to lean towards. they serve all-day breakfasts - the usual toast/beans/cuts variety - and some substantial dishes for lunch and dinner. 

the fahrenheit 88 is more of a kiosk, nestled among busy, colourful kawaii-style apparel and merchandise that make up the multi-concept japanese-inspired parkamaya 'departmental store' (i think compartmental store would be more apt). there's a small seating area made up of wooden picnic tables and benches, a few small round tables and some fun stuff thrown in: chalkboards to scribble on (chalk provided) and playing cards. 

like all other joints, the beans change depending on stock and availability - has great acidity and the barista at fahrenheit88 does immaculate coffee art (pictured).

at both outlets, there's a feature wall that helpfully shows the different drinks and the ratio of coffee-milk-foam of each. 


publika d4-g3-01 solaris dutamas opens 10am-10pm tel 03 6211 2022      take the escalator in the blue zone up to level g3, exit and you will see this outlet right across

fahrenheit 88 parkamaya, 3rd floor opens 10am-10pm 

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butter + beans at seventeen

it looks like half a shoplot but no, the units here are that tiny. which makes this a very cosy joint, and a bit of a squeeze if you sit at the counter or need to pass it to get to the washroom at the back. black bamboo blinds with the cafe's name painted in white shield the front porch, where a couple of tables are placed against a mural by ernest zacharevich (the same guy who did all the amazing ones in george town, penang). apparently he's friends with the owner, hence, this is the proud home of the popular artist's first masterpiece in the klang valley.

the baristas are very young - they look like they just left or could possibly still be in college, but judging from the coffee, they know what they're doing and go about it cheerfully too. like most other specialty coffee spots, they don't give you sugar unless you ask for it and if you tell them you take just a pinch, you earn some cred. it's reportedly owned by the same ppl who run the nearby food foundry, a happy mansion institution, but when asked, one of the baristas replied, "something like that but not really".

besides coffees, there are freshly baked loaves displayed in wicker baskets, cakes and pastries under the glass counter. the salmon quiche is pretty good, although the use of dried herbs is a little disconcerting - they're great for flavour intensity if you're cooking a stew for example, but sprinkling them across the top distracts from what is otherwise a soft, creamy quiche.

see more images here 

bg-1a happy mansion, jalan 17/3, section 17, pj opens 8am-8pm daily tel 03-7932 2556 

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the bread shop

their beans are not as aromatic as the specialty coffee joints but they do great sandwiches - the tuna croissant (generous filling, with good dashes of black pepper) and smoked chicken with pesto on ciabatta (crusty bread, aromatic chicken slices, sweet onions all complemented by a rich mayo-pesto spread) are scrumptious and substantial meals - that go well with a cup of joe. come in the mornings and you will join joggers, ladies of leisure in their snug yoga outfits, tie-wearing corporate figures having breakfast meetings. at lunch, the place is taken over by executives and creative types tapping away on their laptops.

11 jalan setiakasih, bukit damansara, kl opens 8am-6pm tel 03 2093 8734


try the piccolo latte and you may just find true love, an espresso-sized shot that's intense and rich, and wakes you up good. their cakes are pretty wicked too; try the pink stacks, a very pretty tower of rose-flavoured sponge and cream layers. whisk appears to strive on being quaint, both the main outlet at empire gallery and the outpost at 1u are tiny shoplots, and both sport the same classic English pub aesthetics: black-and-white mosaic tiled floor, large wall mirrors, dark wood furniture and panelling, wrought iron details. 


empire shopping gallery lg3a, just outside jaya grocer tel 03 5022 2060 opens 10am-10pm, mon-thu & sun; 10am-10.30pm, fri-sat

1 utama g139, opposite candylicious and near starbucks tel 03 7722 1020 opens 10am-10pm, mon-thu & sun; 10am-10.30pm, fri-sat

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kaffa espresso bar

a little bit retro, a little bit whimsical - the decor is simply delightful. an eclectic mix of furniture pieces and furnishings mean there's something to point your camera at in every corner. the feature wall of exposed bricks sports a mural of a vintage car, an open shelf displays retro print tshirts and other paraphernalia for sale - all topped by a kitschy mannequin bust placed next to a classic turn dial radio. the mainly brown colour palette is punctuated by pops of turquoise, including the logo, all cast in dim lights to give it a cosy vibe that makes you want to chill here all day.

or stay upstairs - the owners also run ryokan, a boutique guest house designed for flashpackers. that is to say, casual and fun, with a bit more luxe than your typical backpackers' lodge. the original ryokan is in penang's george town, well placed within the heritage area.

kaffa's drinks are served in traditional chinese enamel mugs. forget the cakes though, the red velvet was dry as a sponge and the cloyingly sweet cream cheese frosting didn't help. 


97 jalan ss21/37 damansara utama (uptown), pj tel +603 7732 4502 opens 9.30am-12am daily

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doi chaang

as far as appearance goes, it's easy to dismiss this as just another cafe, especially when pitted against the industrial chic decor of the other joints on this list. but doi chaang, which means 'elephant mountain' in thai - the brand has its roots in a mountainous village of the same name, but spelled doi chang, in chiang rai, home to the akha tribe - is actually an international chain that has quite a story behind it: in an effort to steer the akha and their land away from the opium trade they had become famous for, the king of thailand presented the tribe with coffee plants, which they successfully planted - organically and using sustainable farming practices - and processed. they began selling their harvest to dealers, who tended to mix their beans with more inferior variants to up their profit margins.

the akhas decided to ditch the dealers and became a one-stop, single estate coffee growers and suppliers. they approached a canadian businessman john darch to help bring their beans to the global market. john then set up the doi chaang (an 'a' had to be added due to trademark restrictions) coffee company in canada, which is half owned by the villagers. the canadian company pays them beyond fair trade prices (not quite sure what this means) for the beans, and the villagers keep 100% of sale proceeds. doi chaang coffee is available at countless retail outlets across canada.

the cafe at jaya one pj opened 7 months ago, very quietly, it's tucked near the b2 parking, behind a slice of heaven. the presentation is, like the decor, simple. the flat white - sans coffee art - comes in a clear cup with a chocolate chip cookie on the side (it was a good cookie). the coffee doesn't smell or taste as 'heavy' as most of the other coffees; it goes down smoothly and is very light on acidity - according to the barista, acidity is something that's decided during the roasting process and doi chaang in canada makes their more acidic as that's how canadians like them. 


unit e, no 49, lg2 block d, retail lab project, jaya one opens 9am-6pm, closed sun getting there retail lab project is a cluster of small shops that are on the same side of the building as cold storage and kind of split into two blocks. in between is a staircase that will take you up to kimchi haru. on the side wall is a display that explains what retail lab project is about. walk past this and towards the parking, and you will see doi chaang on the right.