You might put sugar in your coffee. In Malaysia, though, the beans for a traditional cup are roasted with not just sugar but margarine as well, before they’re ground-up and brewed. The result is a strong, caramelly cup of coffee.
Despite the global trend of chrome-plated cafés and high-tech coffee roasters, there’s still lots of demand for old-school kopi. Perhaps that’s why Antong Coffee Mill, Malaysia’s oldest roaster, is still in business.
Not only does the mill make the old-fashioned coffee, it makes it the old-fashioned way, over wood-fired stoves. It’s an unusual enough sight in this day and age that the factory has become a tourist destination, with curious onlookers coming to see the traditional way of making their favorite coffee.
The mill is open for visitors everyday, and many come to buy different roasts or to sip a coffee sample or two. Some visitors, though, don’t come for coffee at all. The mill operates out of the historical home of Chen Cuifen, a “forgotten revolutionary.” Chen was the lover of Sun Yat Sen, the leader who ushered China into its brief period of democracy in the early 1900s. Sen is considered a heroic figure across the Chinese diaspora, and he’s said to have stayed with Chen here on occasion. There’s even a statue of him out front.
When Chen moved back to China, she rented and then sold the property to Tiah Ee Mooi, the founder of the mill. The mill contains many artifacts of its coffee-making history, as well as objects and information about the life of Chen Cuifen.
Know Before You Go
The shop and mill typically both open at 8:30 every day, though tours through the mill stop at 12:30.