Ipoh White Coffee: The Beloved Coffee from Perak
Ipoh White Coffee is a popular style of coffee originated in Ipoh, Perak of Malaysia, so much so that Ipoh is being named one of the top three coffee towns by Lonely Planet. This coffee is traditionally served with condensed milk, either hot or cold, and has become synonymous with the city’s rich coffee culture.
In the 19th and early 20th century during the British colonial era, Perak was a booming tin-mining state. As a result, many British tin-mining companies set up base in Ipoh, making it a prominent city in Malaya. Ipoh White Coffee was developed by the Hainanese migrants and kopitiam operators back then, who considered Western coffee to be too bitter and acidic, unsuitable for their palate. They used their culinary expertise to experimented different methods of mixing, blending and roasting coffee beans. Eventually they found that by slow roasting the coffee beans blends of Arabica, Robusta and Liberica with palm oil margarine to a lighter roast, the resulting cup of coffee is thick, frothy, aromatic and velvety.
Overseas visitors finding the margarine-roasted coffee beans unorthodox, due to their slight caramel flavour. They are often misled into believing that there is a type of coffee bean endemic to Malaysia called the “white coffee bean”. The name “White Coffee” originates from the transliteration of its Chinese name, either refers to the coffee beans’ light roasting or that the coffee is served with milk.
The popularity of Ipoh White Coffee has soared, leading to high demand from coffee shops and restaurants throughout Malaysia. Coffee enthusiasts across the country have embraced this unique blend, appreciating its distinct flavour and cultural significance. In response to this demand, instant versions of Ipoh White Coffee have been developed, combining coffee powder with non-dairy creamer/whitener and sugar for convenient preparation.
Ipoh White Coffee stands as a testament to the ingenuity and culinary expertise of the Hainanese migrants and kopitiam operators who blended cultural influences and local preferences to create a truly exceptional coffee experience. Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or simply a lover of delicious beverages, exploring the rich flavours of Ipoh White Coffee is a must when visiting Malaysia.