Penang: once a town of kopitiams, now in the works of transforming into a specialty coffee destination for people from all over Malaysia and beyond. You can still get some crisp kaya toast in during your island adventure of course, but people who’d prefer to start their day with a hot cappuccino need not fret – here, you’re spoiled for choice. Home to a curated selection of quality third wave coffee shops, the island is a terrific place to do some proper cafe-hopping in between some old-town sight-seeing.
A little farther out from the town’s historic center, along Lim Chong Eu Expressway, you might come across one long, container-like building proudly emblazoned with the name MACALLUM atop it. Sure enough, it’s one of the island’s largest coffee shops, whose full name in actuality is Macallum Connoisseurs Coffee Company. A big name for sure, but it does a fine job at representing an establishment so vast: at 8,000 square feet, it’s huge.
Making a home out of what was once a factory, Macallum exudes a natural industrial vibe with its high ceilings, exposed metalwork, and monochromatic palette. Its sheer size isn’t without purpose; a lot happens here. The coffee bar – a large cube-like module – is the first thing customers set their sights upon when walking through the entrance, and is lined with all of the shop’s in-house roasted coffee, among other things.
While Macallum’s friendly baristas sure know how to brew a tasty cup of joe (and an icy cold green tea latte at that), the shop does more than just pour out latte art, it’s also an academy where aspiring brewers or roasters can learn more about the craft, and become professionals. The two glass-lined rooms in one corner of the space house the sensory lab and roasting facility, and between the two, students can get a well-rounded feel of what goes into the art of caffeine.
It goes without saying that you don’t have to be a roasting-hopeful to have a good time at Macallum, in fact you don’t even need to be a coffee drinker to enjoy your visit. The shop regularly hosts markets, art exhibitions, and even weddings – makes sense with all that space. In any case, Macallum offers a refreshing respite in between historical site-hopping for tourists, a regular and reliable haunt for locals, and a place to delve deeper into the craft for connoisseurs in the making.