PPP Coffee at REXKL: How a pop-up café can bridge communities

Kenny Mah
PPP Coffee has a new pop-up café at REXKL. — Pictures by Kenny Mah

KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 — Most pop-ups come and go. Typically a temporary fixture to publicise a new product or brand, they are a great way to test the market for consumer interest. Other times, they can work in the opposite direction, bringing hardcore followers to an untested space.

Then there are those that do both, and perhaps go a little further if all the stars are aligned.

Fresh off the launch of their new shop at Funan in Singapore, PPP Coffee has opened a pop-up café at REXKL.

The regional specialty coffee purveyor is a good fit for the arts- and culture-centric audience of REXKL, the rejuvenated Rex Cinema that is now a space for Malaysian creatives and entrepreneurs.

PPP Coffee co-founder Marcus Foo says, “Our coffee bar will be at REXKL for 3-4 months only, with the official opening on September 16. For now we are open Fridays through Sundays but we may also open on Thursdays depending on whether there are events.”

The exterior of REXKL, formerly the iconic Rex Cinema building.

The pop-up is the latest entry of the burgeoning PPP Coffee empire, which also includes Pulp in Bangsar and Chye Seng Huat Hardware in Singapore. Here, both filter coffee and the usual espresso-based beverages such as caffè latte are available. It’s a space for the creative community to gather over their favourite cuppas.

The straightforward set-up is emblazoned in the group’s signature fiery red that is part of a recent rebranding process. The primary colour is certainly captivating against the weathered, semi-restored surroundings.

According to Foo, PPP Coffee aims to inspire and connect people through coffee, fostering a sense of belonging across communities. Pop-ups are but one approach.

Barista pouring latte art at PPP Coffee’s REXKL pop-up.

He adds, “We hope PPP Coffee becomes more omnipresent. It’s about connecting with the community — the arts, music and design. Design can be architecture, or all three linked as a whole as we’ve always been supporting these three categories.”

Since starting out in 2009, the company (then known as Papa Palheta) has supported the creative communities throughout the years.

One such occasion was the BREW Block Party, a recent music event in Singapore organised by Darker Than Wax in which they closed the street in front of Chye Seng Huat Hardware.

Both filter coffee (left) and the usual espresso-based beverages such as caffè latte (right) are available.

Other collaborations run the gamut of arts (SEA Focus), food and drink (Tiffin Malaysia), and music (Urbanscapes).

Foo elaborates, “It’s all about engaging the communities that we really love to be part of, instead of being in all kinds of events. And we’ve been doing it subtly for years. And REXKL kind of has all these boxes ticked!”

The feeling appears to be mutual. Shin Tseng, the Creative Director of IDEAWORKSHOP and one of the minds behind the REXKL revival, says, “I admire PPP Coffee’s professionalism in perfecting their craft and being consistent in their service and products. That’s very important. And that’s how we choose our tenants too. REXKL works with creative entrepreneurs and partners who are constantly perfecting their craft, be it in music, performances, food or drink.”

A space for the creative community to gather over their favourite cuppas.

Across the Causeway, PPP Coffee has had an even longer history of bridging these creatives who may have long worked in disparate silos.

Darker Than Wax’s co-founder Dean Chew shares, “PPP Coffee has always been extremely supportive of the homegrown culture, and the BREW Block Party which saw over 800 attendees was one fine example of how such collaborations are able to bring people from different communities together.”

Having a strong engagement across two countries can pay dividends over time, especially given the uncertainty inherent in F&B. Foo says, “The market for specialty coffee and coffee in general has always been very competitive, especially in Singapore and recently in the last five years, in Malaysia where we opened our doors at Pulp in 2014, as well.”

PPP Coffee isn’t precious about pivoting when market forces compel them to. While their growth has always been careful and organic, the group has streamlined their management teams such as a dedicated department to handle promotional efforts with a strong presence both online and offline, in two different yet closely linked markets.

Wake up and smell the coffee!

Foo shares, “The cross border relationship since 2014 has benefited the group both ways to allow talents and resources to be better utilised productively. It has also allowed us to build a more cohesive Singapore-Malaysia brand. A bilateral relationship that we cannot ignore.”

Some pop-ups come and go. Other pop-ups have more of a lasting impact. PPP Coffee, as evidenced by their commitment and contribution to communities beyond simply serving remarkable cuppas, belong to the latter category.

PPP Coffee Pop-up at REXKL
Ground floor, 80, Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur
Open Fri-Sun 10am-8pm and some Thursdays for events
For more information, visit https://pppcoffee.com/ and www.instagram.com/ppp.coffee/

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