Best of Ipoh White Coffee @ Old Town

There will be times whereby a sense of awkwardness lingers in the air when I recommend "white coffee" to the uninitiated; the out-of-town folks who have been routinely sipping on their relatively potent, black or dark brown-coloured brew in the other states of Malaysia. The same applies for travelers from other countries dropping by Ipoh for the very first time.

Seriously, coffee was never meant to be WHITE of all colours. A murky brown, sometimes could be leaning towards a lighter, cream-coloured hue or occasionally served black without any milk (termed as 'kopi-o' to us locals) would be taken as the norm. While 'white coffee' per se could be taking things a little too far.

Until, one has stepped foot into this delicious town of Ipoh, that is.

White coffee in its essence, does not refer to the colour of the beverage directly. Here's an excerpt from Wikipedia:

"The generic term "Ipoh White Coffee" in Chinese is 'bak ko pi' (baai kah feh); the "white" term has nothing to do with the colour in this instance, but is rather a reference to the way how the coffee is roasted. In Chinese, Bái also means 'without, or unadulterated, nothing has been added to the coffee during the roasting process." (sourced from Wikipedia)

The roasting process of the coffee beans (an aromatic mix of Arabica and Robusta) in producing white coffee brews is devoid of sugar; hence the caramelization process does not take place. The resulting beverage turns out to be of a slightly lighter brown shade, and the ensuing addition of condensed milk creates a creamy, sweet and milky coffee brew that stands out more than its simplistic and more potent cousin; the black coffee.

Because of the nature of the roasting process that includes margarine and no sugar, the beans possess a buttery aroma that is unmistakable; and the white coffee 'baristas' will then pull the coffee by utilizing two steel mugs to create a foamy concoction that is supposedly smoother because of the 'airing' process.

Being a coffee addict myself, I engage in the perpetual hunt for the best brews in town. Since the origin of white coffee was in an old coffee shop in Ipoh's old town, it is advisable to start your journey there.

The row of shops from pre-war days have been well-maintained for more than half a century, and the notion of sipping on Ipoh's favourite drink could be traced back to its roots at Sin Yoon Loong coffee shop on Leech Street; now better known as Jalan Bandar Timah.

There are at least five coffee shops within the vicinity that serve great white coffee; each with its own merits and equal share of detractors. The most prominent being Sin Yoon Loong as mentioned, Sun Yuan Foong next door, and Nam Heong on the opposite side.

Ah Chow Kopitiam is located further up the road while Danny's White Coffee was just opened not too long ago hence renovated to a more pleasant environment. Nam Chau is on the other side of the same road, separated by Hugh Low Street, and the same goes for Sin Lean Lee which is even further away from Sin Yoon Loong.

All of the coffee shops mentioned above are purists to some extent, yet none that stood out in comparison to Sin Yoon Loong with similar facade just like in its golden years, and baking traditional fluffy egg cakes and toasting slices of bread laced with butter and kaya (coconut and egg jam) for breakfast until evening tea break.

If your caffeine cravings hit an all-time high, and you're a bit weary from the same old generic brews, why not consider giving Ipoh old town's renowned white coffee a try?

Here are the details of the outlets mentioned in this post:

KEDAI KOPI SIN YOON LOONG
15A, Jalan Bandar Timah,
30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Opens for breakfast until late afternoon only

KEDAI MAKANAN NAM HEONG
2, Jalan Bandar Timah,
30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Opens for breakfast until late afternoon only.

KEDAI KOPI AH CHOW
31, Jalan Bandar Timah,
30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Opens for breakfast until late lunch

KEDAI KOPI NAM CHAU
54, Jalan Bandar Timah,
30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Opens everyday except Tuesdays.
Early morning until 3pm.

RESTORAN SIN LEAN LEE
Corner of Jalan Bandar Timah-Jalan Panglima
30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Closed on Tuesdays.
Early morning until late afternoon.