Sunday, 6 May 2018

Kheng Guan Hiong Coffee @ Pontian. Love it or Not, there's No Other Like it 瓊源香

After a lifetime of coffee from Robusta, Liberica to Arabica in Singapore, Malaysia and beyond... the coffee that is most memorable for me is at Kheng Guan Hiong 瓊源香 in Pontian, Johor. The second is a Vietnamese coffee in Los Angeles 30 years ago, but that is a story for another post.

I don't count the times I come to Kheng Guan Hiong anymore, since I first stumbled upon it in 2012 when I was checking out the Pontian wholesale fish market next door.

Kheng Guan Hiong is now run by second and third generation owners Ah Ngau, his wife, son Chris, daughter and a few helpers. KGH was started in the 1950s by Ah Ngau's dad from Hainan, China.

Chris' family still roast and ground their coffee beans like Chris' grandfather did. They used to roast their coffee beans with mangrove trunks as these were long burning and gave off the most intense heat with the most consistency. Mangrove wood is no longer available today, so the beans are now roasted using gas.

I had a kopi O siew dai (coffee black with less sugar). Kheng Guan Hiong's Nanyang coffee is light bodied, has a tea colour, aromatic and has a robust distinctive flavour.

Buddy John and I tried to place KGH's kopi in the hipster coffee flavour framework of nutty, floral and fruity. After some deliberation, we agreed that it is within the fruity bracket.

Chris who is familiar with hipster coffee felt his family's coffee doesn't quite fit into that frame. It's uniqueness is due to a confluence of many factors.

Kheng Guan Hiong's coffee beans come from the same plantation since Chris' grandfather's time. It's in Senggarang 新加兰 about an hour's drive north from Pontian. Chris said the Senggarang plantation initially grew Robusta beans and later Liberica beans were added. So, the beans from the plantation are a mix of both Robusta and Liberica beans.

Kheng Guan Hiong uses fresh traditional white loaves and house made kaya to make their kaya toast over charcoal.

The lightly toasted white bread sandwiched kaya and strips of butter.

It's a nice gently savoury sweet lightly crisp toast that is perfect with coffee and soft boiled eggs.

Fresh soft boiled eggs eaten with dark soy sauce and white pepper.

Two of us, we got drunk from caffeine overdose. We also took home a bag of KGH grounded coffee. The total bill for all these was RM31 plus some sens.

4-Stars (out of 5). Kheng Guan Hiong's kopi has a unique flavour and aroma - but responses to it are subjective. Some think it is the best kopi in the world while others are indifferent to it. Personally, KGH's kopi leaves the most memorable flavour of all coffee that I've tasted so far. And, you can't get it anywhere, except here in Pontian.

Restaurant name: Kheng Guan Hiong 瓊源香
Address: 15, Jalan Limau Kasturi, Taman Suraya Indah, Pontian, Johor (at the Pontian Fish Market) 
GPS  1°28'34.8"N 103°23'32.6"E | 1.476322, 103.392390
Hours: 5:30am to 4:00pm (closed on Monday) 

No pork, no lard, no Halal cert

Dates visited: Numerous times since 4 Apr 2012

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I share hoping that everyone will have a good time but your experience may differ from mine. I love to know how you enjoyed yourself or if you didn't.

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