Imagine roasting coffee beans to produce 30 million cups of coffee each year. That’s not an easy feat but it’s exactly what Malaysia’s home-grown Mister Coffee does. From a humble one-man stall to being known as “The brand behind many brands” in the local coffee scene, Mister Coffee has emerged as one of the nation’s most advanced and innovative players in the coffee industry.
It all started back in 1982, when Company Representative Gavin Sia’s father made a casual trip to a Pasar Tani, a morning market in Muar, Johor. It was the irresistible whiff of freshly roasted coffee grounds that led him to start his own coffee stall, roasting and selling freshly ground coffee.
It wasn’t easy for Gavin’s father, Sia Chee Lai, in the initial years. The industry was young and small, and the tropical climate brought frequent thunderstorms, which meant fewer visitors. The damp weather had an added challenge; the high humidity and fluctuating temperatures were undesirable for keeping coffee fresh.
Finally, in the early 2000s, Gavin’s father found a solution – importing coffee roasting machinery for better quality control and packaging equipment to reduce moisture and increase the shelf life of their coffee.
Fast-forward 40 years and 3 generations later, Mister Coffee has grown to become one of the largest coffee companies in Malaysia.
The secret to their success? Gavin attributes it to “dealing with integrity and sincerity”, which has, in turn, earned their customers’ trust. Consistent quality is their priority – from sourcing green coffee beans to investing in storage, each bean is cared for meticulously so that it reaches the end-consumer in tip-top condition.
“There are so many coffee cultures in Malaysia because of our history – we are a multi-ethnic nation. We need to be forward-thinkers and have the constant drive to innovate coffee products and blends that cater to the diversified local taste buds.”
To maintain the highest possible standards at Mister Coffee, Gavin carries out cupping sessions and sample roastings before and after shipment of the beans. “You need to know what you are buying,” he said.
Mister Coffee’s coffee beans are roasted with precision and science. The beans are roasted until the Maillard reaction takes place – a chemical reaction that releases the aroma and sweetness of roasted beans, and gives that golden shine on the bean’s surface. Advanced apparatus and equipment from Europe are also used to check the consistency of each roasted batch, including colour checks and roasting levels.
“There is art and science involved in the entire process. You must find the right source and right blends so that there is a harmonious taste. To create the perfect blend, you need experience and partners who provide good beans – that’s where the science comes in because you need to repeat this process day after day.”
With the right temperature and airflow, the roaster then decides when to discharge the coffee beans, and allows it to cool from 200 degrees to room temperature within 3 to 4 minutes. After which, the beans go through a coffee destoner to remove foreign materials that were latched onto the coffee beans during the harvesting process. This process doesn’t end until sample batches pass quality checks.
Mister Coffee uses Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) technology in its packaging to preserve coffee beans. Advanced machinery are also used to test for air leaks and the sealing strength.
“The air around us is made up of approximately 21% oxygen, but oxygen is coffee’s worst enemy. When oxygen comes into contact with coffee, oxidisation occurs. This makes coffee stale, causes flavour loss and a flat aroma, even without opening the sealed bag.”
With these types of machinery, Mister Coffee is able to reduce oxygen levels to 1%. This ensures the taste of coffee is not affected.
As a pioneer of coffee pods, drip coffee bags, and coffee capsules in Malaysia, Mister Coffee offers a variety of coffee products. But Gavin explains that “real” coffee comes from the full experience of home brewing.
“For instant coffee, it’s just an extraction of a liquid from a powdery form, and in that process, aroma is lost.”
By using freshly ground coffee and the help of a reliable coffee machine, it offers a healthier and consistent cafe-quality brew.
“Imagine waking up to a great, aroma[tic] cup of coffee every day – it is one of the simplest happiness we could have. It really makes for an enjoyable morning before you start your day.”
As Mister Coffee continues to shape Malaysia’s coffee industry, Gavin is working on expanding the brand into retail segments and the Southeast Asia region.
“The challenge is there but when it’s accomplished year after year, and knowing your customers are enjoying the final blend, it’s very fulfilling.”