Coffee Crawl: Top Brew Coffee Bar, Plaza Damas – Hartamas

This has to be one of the best coffee outlets in KL right now.

Top Brew Coffee Bar - Plaza Damas Hartamas

This post is culmulative of 2 visits, the first of which was pretty ordinary as we had visited 2 outlets before (Coffea Coffee & The Brew Culture)  and was tired by then. JH Yee (the Malaysian Barista Champion 2012) wasn’t around either, and no one was able to sit down & chat with us. This round, we are in luck. Yee was present and we managed to speak to him personally, and soon we got into the topic of Top Brew’s 2 signature coffees; the Lighthouse (from Penang) and 5 senses from Australia.

1st visit – Espresso for Kevin, Flat White for KC and Mocha for Rainier.

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Espresso with Lighthouse Blend (RM6) – Kevin’s comment: Balanced palate profile, slight acidity, some caramelized bittersweet notes. A safe bet for anyone seeking a pleasant cuppa.

Lighthouse Flat White (RM8.50) – KC’s comment: Loved the robustness of the Lighthouse Coffee from Penang’s Logan Heritage. The foaminess is just the right too.

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After pigging out at Renoma Cafe Gallery’s Sunday brunch, we were in need of an afternoon pick me up. Kevin had wanted a second round since Top Brew is run by barista champion, and we couldn’t believe that our first visit could be so underwhelming. In fact, out of all the 3 outlets of our Christmas Day coffee crawl, we liked Coffea Coffee and The Brew Culture more than Top Brew, probably due to the ambiance  as well as what we ordered that day.

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While the homemade waffles were good, it was our personal session with JH Yee that really made our day.

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We started with 2 espressos of Ethiopia Yirgacheffe by 5 Senses (Espresso). It was crisp with fruity acidity at the start, mellowing out to sweeter notes with a medium body at the end. It has a bit of apricot-ness aroma to it, or so it seems. In comparison to the Lighthouse blend which we had in our 1st visit, this has more sour notes (more of fruity & floral) and a slightly lighter body.

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And then we saw Yee, asked him some questions and the next thing we know, we are sampling some of his special coffees; starting with Panama Don Pachi Geisha; described as “God in a cup” by a coffee taster in 2006, which netted it the Cup of Excellence award scoring 96 out of 100.

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The coffee was hand ground using a Hario hand grinder and brewed using a Clever Dripper, which is a hybrid system combining the functions between a French Press and coffee dripper.


BELOW: Yee hand grinding the coffee and his brother preparing the drip.

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Amount of beans used to water: 18g – 300ml.

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Our Panama Don Pachi Geisha – RM25 per serving.

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And it was a superb brew; the only one I drank and didn’t give me gastric afterwards. Amazing really! 🙂
Initial notes: It starts from slight acidity but develops more fruity and white flower aromas as the temperature cools down. At near room temperature, the coffee has largely fruity notes with no bitterness at the end.
If you don’t know, the acidity and flavour of coffee changes as its temperature cool down.

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Warming up, Yee moved on to show us one of his signature beverages. We stayed on, mesmerized and absorbing as much as we could as he generously fed us more and more coffee know-how and culture.

This signature of his comprised of 3 components to the tasting experience, Passionfruit Puree, Brown sugar & Etiopia Yirgacheffe espresso. The espresso is poured into a combination of heated sugar and passionfruit puree.

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Do watch the video as I got all this recorded.

1st step is tasting the passionfruit puree and sugar separately. 2nd step is to sniff the puree & sugar mix, to identify the aroma. 3rd is tasting the combined beverage.
1st sip would be the sudden and hard welcome of the combined acidity of the espresso and passionfruit puree. The next sip when the beverage has cooled down slightly yields a more mellow taste, akin to mangoes with a smooth mouthfeel and long body. Subsequent sips after the beverage has cooled down more is a progression from passionfruit acidity, mango-ey taste and finishing fruity sweet-sour notes. Truly an experience that is beyond coffee drinking.
(Originally made using a microlot from Brazil blended with Rwanda Musasa, but the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe comes close to the original taste.)

Conclusion for Top Brew Coffee Bar : The sandwiches were forgettable, the waffles much better than what you could get elsewhere for the price, the ambiance and comfort level hardly welcoming BUT Top Brew does serve fabulous coffee IF you know what to order.

For us, we definitely know what we will be trying next – the Iced double black (RM12) – a blend of double shot of espresso pre-chilled in an ice bath into a tall glass of hand-ground, handbrewed coffee; voted as one of the top 28 things of 2012 to try by Time Out KL.

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Top Brew Coffee Bar

C-0-7, Plaza Damas 3,
Jalan Sri Hartamas 1,
KL, Malaysia
Business hours: Open daily (except Wednesdays) from 9.30am – 6pm
Tel: 03-6206 3062 / 016-275 7500

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For more of my coffee stimulants, surf over to:

* Artisan Roast TTDI
* A RAW COFFEE session with Michael 
Coffea Coffee, Telawi Bangsar
The Brew Culture, Plaza Damas
* Top Brew Coffee Bar, Plaza Damas
Butter + Beans at Seventeen, Section 17 PJ
* Malaysia Barista Championship 2013 – Media coffee appreciation workshop

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Sean

    Yee sets the bar very high for every barista in kl! 😀

  2. Chong

    Heard good stuff about their waffles…

  3. Caron

    I’m in love..the waffles are thick, fluffy and big! A waffle and a cuppa here would make me a very happy girl!

  4. Joshua

    The Don Pachi Geisha is not the same as the one the one mentioned as ‘god in a cup’, thats the geisha from hacienda la esmeralda. Also panama was never a country in which the COE was held.
    Having said that, Yee is a very good barista and te don Pachi crop from last year is one of the best coffees I have tasted.

    1. rebeccasaw

      Hi Joshua! Thank you for pointing all that out, let me check with Yee 🙂
      Yup, Yee’s such a fabulous barista and I’m glad you agreed on that one!

  5. Greg

    I will drop by here soon, hope I get to meet Yee as well.

  6. Tommy

    I really do enjoy reading all your coffee posts. Very knowledgeable write-ups

    1. rebeccasaw

      Oh thanks Tommy! 😀
      I do take a lot of time to prepare those posts 🙂 So happy that my readers (like yourself) appreciates the effort! I hope u enjoy your cuppa here, if you do drop in!

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