These photos are from last year. I was at Bandar Baru Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia, waiting for my class to begin. I’d be teaching food photography class that very morning. I got to Sugarflours too early, obviously. The store was still closed, it was around 7. I found this old style cafe in the corner of the block. It was the only business opened in that early hour. The smell of the coffee vaporized and intrigued me in a second. Bangi Kopitiam.
Dragged my heavy backpack to a table at the farthest spot from the counter, plunked myself in a chair and grabbed a menu. One coffee caught my eyes in an instant: Kopi Perempuan. Or translated as Female Coffee. I could almost feel it in my mouth already.
I‘m not a coffee person, I’m a tea. But I love the smell of coffee so much. I feel that cappuccino is too light, espresso too strong, latte too runny, and caramel is too artificial. No coffee could please my palate except Killiney’s coffee. So when I go to a good coffee shop where not-drinking coffee will be such a waste, I will have a talk with the barista.
“Could you make me a kopi perempuan, please?”
Yes, I made up the name. Yes, the words were exactly those. Destiny, huh?
The barista will most likely frown, and I will of course describe the taste I want, “I want the coffee flavor strong, but also very rich and creamy at the same time. Can you make it for me?”
A barista I met in a 24-hour coffee shop at Sarinah Thamrin got me right away, yelled proudly, “Latte double shot!” It was not in the menu, he whipped it up specifically for me everytime I visited.
Back to Bangi Kopitiam. I ordered one cup of Kopi Perempuan and waited gleefully. In my mind, it would be exactly what I wanted. I couldn’t wait to see if the creator of this Kopi Perempuan was thinking the same thing I was thinking when inventing a coffee dedicated to all women in the world.
It came to my table and I had my first sip. It blew my mind. It was better than I expected. Way better. The coffee flavor was just the right strength, it was thick, rich and oh-so-creamy. But here comes the best part: it was infused with spices! Beautiful, beautiful fragrant spices I couldn’t exactly list them all. I recognized there might be cardamom, cinnamon, a hint of nutmeg. Yet there was something I couldn’t really tell. Lightly smoky but not like clove, coconuty but not as rich, it was just something so.. mysterious. Just like a woman.
You see I already gulped it halfway when I remembered to take a photo. My morning was perfect. The cold wind was blowing through the old wooden blinds. Old, dark, comfy kopitiam. Classic love songs in the air: Peter Cetera and Paul Anka. Will You Still Love Me and Hold Me ‘Til The Morning Comes. My acid-free pen was dancing page by page on my journal, practically writing itself. Telling a story about one morning.
One perfect morning.