Written in J.R.R. Tolkien’s poem All That is Gold Does Not Glitter is the famous line that reads, “not all those who wander are lost.” Wandering and reaping the serendipitous finds that come with it are one of the best travelling experiences you can get; you never know what you might find when you decide to ditch your map and wing it. In fact, some of my fondest travel memories are simply spontaneous happenings.
Fond as I am of wandering, I see no harm in preparing and researching before embarking on a new adventure. On my trips to foreign countries, there are always a couple sights, monuments, and activities that stand out more than the others, though it’s the coffee shops I really look out for. These are the establishments are the talk of the town and have earned a place for themselves in the hearts and minds of the community they served.
In Malaysia, there was one coffee shop in particular that appeared on my radar time and time again. On our last trip to Kuala Lumpur, I received numerous suggestions and recommendations to visit said shop, though unfortunately our one night trip did not permit the opportunity to do so. This time around, we were determined to pay the shop an overdue visit.
Clad in a greyish-black color, VCR was the name on everyone’s lips. Visible from over the hill opposite the shop, it seemed we had arrived just in time for breakfast. Despite having just opened mere moments before, it seemed everyone had the same idea as they made their way inside the shop to kick start their day with a warm cup of coffee and a good meal.
Sleek, cool, and simple, it was easy to see why VCR was such a popular photo-hunter spot. While embracing an industrial look with metalwork and black accents here and there, the shop still managed to feel warm and inviting with big windows and a super friendly staff. On their matte black baristas’ counter was an equally black Synesso espresso machine and other various coffee knick-knacks that were put to use as more and more people packed into the shop. In their display case was an array of mouthwatering cakes and bakes that while tempting, were passed up for a hearty Scandinavian breakfast, Surf n Turf, and VCR’s big breakfast.
With high ceilings and great architecture, the building was the perfect canvas upon which to paint one of Malaysia’s most recognizable cafes. Upstairs, the space gave way to an outdoor patio and a glass-lined corridor leading to the second floor’s main dining space. Spacious, airy, and homey, it was the perfect place to curl up with a book or catch up with friends over a cuppa.
By the time I got back downstairs, a line had formed all the way to the door. When our food got to the table, I understood why so many people were determined to park themselves in the shop so early in the morning; every dish was artfully presented, ingredients tasted wonderful and fresh, and flavors were bright and vibrant. Pair the meal with VCR’s Americano, latte, and cool orange juice and you have yourself a great wake-up call. A meal like that with a fair price? No wonder the crowds kept coming back.
After things began to settle down at the front of the shop, I got the chance to catch up with VCR’s manager Rachel in the front yard. The name VCR, Rachel explained, was a reference to the shop’s likeness to a VCR cassette from the outside and of the shop’s slightly old-school style. Opened three years ago by passionate coffee lovers, VCR were proud to call themselves one of the pioneers of Malaysia’s third wave coffee scene, setting the bar for future coffee shops to come. Since opening, the shop has attracted people from all over with their outstanding coffee and quality seasonal fare. As it turned out, the queue I saw earlier was nothing new for Rachel and her colleagues (and things only get busier during holidays).
About their coffee, you may have noticed that there are in fact two buildings of the same greyish-black color on the block; the one on the far right is the shop, while the one in the middle is their roastery and lab. Other than directly serving the community through their shop, VCR is one of Kuala Lumpur’s leading roasteries and coffee labs that continue to expand the horizons of Malaysia’s coffee scene. A huge success in Bukit Bintang, Rachel says VCR plans to open a store in Bangsar in the near future which will no doubt be just as busy, if not busier, as their original store.
As the more and more people packed into the shop, Rachel and I said goodbye and parted ways. When travelling, recommendations and suggestions can sometimes be misleading as sights and places are blown out of proportion. This isn’t always true of course, and it certainly isn’t for the most raved about café in Kuala Lumpur. VCR was worth every compliment and positive review. The quality of the fare and continued exploration into the world of coffee is something that keeps everyone coming back. I can’t wait to visit them again.
Thank you Rachel for being so kind; I can't wait to visit VCR again soon.