Thursday, December 04, 2008
This is a photo of the original old style coffee filter bags made popular by Sibu Coffee Shops of yonder years. Each family would have a bag like this at home. These days one can still buy one from a supermarket in Asia. I was intrigued by this display of filter bags or kopi lau at the back of a coffee shop in Sibu. Rarely seen Asia indeed.
The sight of them evoke so much memories!!
Incidentally a friend from the UK recently bought one to take home as a souvenir.
Coffee powder continues to be ground and prepared every day throughout Malaysia and especially in Sibu. Coffee beans may come from Java and Brazil. And the local cottage industries continue to pack and sell their coffee powder very often right in front of their shops like this one. The most famous Sarawak coffee powder I have been told is Cap Ah Moi. (It is not the one featured in the photo. This is Triple A or AAA)
A favourite coffee break in Sibu - a cup of kopi O and a plate of Kampua or dry noodles with some slices of pork and chopped spring onions and fried onions.
A very recent photo of my cousin Lau Kiing Mew with whom I grew up by the banks of the Rejang in Sg.Maaw. He still enjoys his cup of kopi-o whenever he meets up with friends in Sibu. The open plan of a Sibu kopi tiam is always a good place for brainstorming and making business deals. Friendship firms up and new friends are made. I love to watch our nice Foochow men slapping each other's back in the old ways. And many would still like to pull each other into the coffee shops to have a good coffee drinking session. Kopi tiams seem to be just the place to be in Sibu where you do not really have to dig deep into your pockets.
Sometimes you might even find that your bill has been settled by a friendly towkay who feels like paying for you. You might not even know this generous benefactor! Upon some investigation he might even tell you that your grandmother had given him lunches in Sg.Maaw when he was a poor and struggling rubber tapper!!Foochows are known to be grateful to their elders who had lent them a hand. When they have made their fortunes they do come and pay back.(Photo by Wong Meng Lei)
Very old style coffee pot which my father loved. Still available on line.
You will notice that kopi o comes in different types of cups - small cups and big cups made of glass in these photos.
In Australia you call for Long or Short or expresso and in West Malaysia you call for Glass(gelas which means big) or Cup (cawan which means small)in coffee shops. However in big global franchises you have the menu to help you. In Sibu you just have to ask the shop keeper how they serve the coffee and then check out their glasses or cups and point to your neighbours' coffee....or you can try your newly learnt Foochow. In Foochow Glass is Nga Lak Pui and cup is Tah Pui and then make your choice. But in some shops you may have no choice - you are served coffee in a big glass. This may sound confusing to you but you just need to observe and point if you do not know the lingo to order your coffee. You do not have to worry as most coffee shop operators are very friendly even though they shout loudly.
Kopi 0 is black coffee. Kopi comes out with a thick dollop of condensed milk. The coffee shop owner or the person making it (kopi chiew) will leave the milk for you to stir. There are many other combinations of kopi........
I continue to favour drinking coffee from cups like this. One can still buy half a dozen of them from John Wong's shop next to Li Hua Hotel in Sibu. I am guilty of giving them as gifts to good friends to take back to West Malaysia and even overseas. They are not expensive but they form part of Sibu and the old days one can take away. There is just something so special about them. You find it difficult to let go of them.