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Coffee Cultures in Malaysia

Wong Shu Lee  


  August 03, 2021

Drinking coffee is a prominent culture among most Malaysians. Even before the invasion of international brands such as Starbucks, many Malaysians would start their day by grabbing a good cup of aromatic local coffee at home or at kopitiam. 


My parents always shared that when they were kids, many families would prepare a big jar of coffee for family members to consume throughout the day. 


Fast forward today, there are so many retail cafés, including chained-brands and those boutique cafés in Malaysia, serving freshly brewed coffee to coffee lovers from day to night. 


This is also reflective of our rapidly changing lifestyle with extensive social media coverage where coffee lovers define the conducive ambiance while sipping their freshly brewed coffee, with the aroma of the coffee titillating others around.


Coffee shops have always been in the limelight as the popularity of coffee drinking is gaining momentum as time goes by.


According to International Coffee Organisation (2014), our coffee consumption has increased over the last 50 years, global coffee exports amounted to 11.6 million bags in May 2019 compared with 9.71 million bags in May 2018.


Urbanization and busy lifestyles are one of the reasons that have caused the rise in coffee consumption in Malaysia.


As mentioned above, the coffee-drinking culture has been deeply rooted among Malaysians for generations. The “Old-style” Hainanese coffee shops, “kopitiams”, and Malay-Indian restaurants or “mamaks” reflect the strong Malaysian coffee drinking culture.


On the other hand, the culture of foreign coffee drinking was immensely influenced by the sudden growth in the number of expatriates in Malaysia.


Since then, foreign cafe culture has notably changed and thus, molded the coffee shop culture in Malaysia.


In addition, the increasing purchasing power and refined taste buds of consumers have brought about an obvious trend in the consumption of premium coffee.


Therefore, coffee operators must be able to understand the demands of customers from all walks of life and be able to consolidate different operational strategies, while satisfying service quality in accordance with consumers’ expectations in order to attract more customers and increase profit.


Although the pandemic has stopped us from visiting our favorite cafe, many cafe owners have shifted their business to the online model. Some are selling freshly brewed coffee by delivery, some are selling premium coffee drip bags to coffee drinkers to access fine quality coffee more conveniently, some are offering drive-thru services too. 


Do you love coffee? What types of coffee do you drink? Let’s share your coffee stories with us! 


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