The Malaysian coffee scene is so saturated you could divide it into three groups. There are the franchises such as Starbucks and Coffee Bean. Then there are the indie, “hipster” joints such as Artisan Roast and RAW. And then there are places like Garage 51.
What we have here is literally a ramshackle garage turned speciality-coffee purveyor. It goes beyond serving the normal espresso-based coffee: the buzz here is its premium, single-origin beans.
When the garage initially opened, it offered the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Gelena Abaya. But just over the weekend they added two more to their speciality menu: The Kenya AA Tatu Estate Rainforest Alliance and Indonesian Putri Sipinsur.
Both live up to their origins: the Kenyan beans deliver the citrusy notes the AA is known for while the Indonesian ones provide typically earthy tones and a nutty aftertaste. All three are fair trade coffee and each is priced at RM15 per cup.
Interior-wise, the heritage of the garage is preserved – it sports a high ceiling and a brick wall – and refurbished for an urban edge. The kitchen is the centrepiece: it’s located inside a shipping container. Garage 51 is, after all, the brainchild of brothers Kar Heng and Kar Wai, the duo behind Coffee Societe. So, it’s obviously a Melbourne-inspired café.
As for food, there are the usual desserts such as the Red Velvet Cake and the Oreo Cheesecake which range from RM9.90 to RM14.90; there are the calorie-loaded brunch dishes such as the Awesome Garage Breakfast with chicken slices, hash brown and bagels topped with Hollandaise sauce, and Croissant with Smoked Salmon that are RM20 upwards; and there is an after-six menu for dinner.
And speaking of brunch, the garage will also be dishing out new brunch specials for a limited time only. All fans need to do is keep tabs on these through social media.
Why a kitchen when java joints are now in slim coffee-and-dessert-only shacks? Kar Wai says: “When we started Garage 51, the kitchen was part of it… We wanted families to come here and dine. You can’t expect children to drink coffee, right? That would be funny.” Right.
Also, if you still insist on having an espresso-based coffee, then Coffee Societe blends are available. The clichéd café latte comes with a different spin as it has a lighter body – one that doesn’t leave you with a headache. And for chocoholics, there’s the signature Mochatella, a magical alchemy of coffee ice cubes, Nutella and milk.
The only grouse about Garage 51 is its location. As it’s located just opposite Sunway University-College, the rush hour schlep is annoying, parking is a hassle, and with the ever-faithful traffic enforcers patrolling the grounds for offenders, grabbing a cuppa is a lot of hard work.
But the chaps behind Garage 51 can certainly rest easy, because they have built a brand from it – it has been running strong for close to a year – and it’s very Malaysian for caffeine addicts to go out of their way for that perfect cuppa.
To know more about Garage 51, you can click here; or visit them at 51, Jalan PJS 11/9, Bandar Sunway; or holler at 03 5612 5618. – May 13, 2014.