Georgetown is a former colonial city on the island of Penang in Malaysia. The old town is lined with colonial-era buildings and and the entire inner city is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Traditional cafes here are kopi tiam style, which offer a simple food menu and a place to chat with friends. They are not cafes you would sit down and write in or crack open a laptop.
Penang has been going through a cafe boom, with the old buildings of Georgetown being ideal for Instagram-friendly cafes. There now cafes that serve espresso coffee and are conducive for working in. With this newfound cafe culture, Penang might yet become a digital nomad hub.
Continuing with my cafe series, here is a list of the best cafes in Penang (mostly in Georgetown).
Mugshot brings a slice of Australian-style cafe life to Georgetown. It’s located in the heart of the backpacker area of Lebuh Chulia so it can be hard to get a seat at peak times.
Location: 302 Lebuh Chulia, Georgetown
Macallum Connoisseurs Coffee Company
Macallum is outside of the World Heritage section of Georgetown but well worth the wander here. The cafe is in a purpose-built warehouse that would not fit in any old building in the old town. This is a cool place that has put Malaysian cafe culture on the map.
Location: 1 Gat Lebuh Macallum, Georgetown
In a city filled with cool old buildings that are waiting to be repurposed, this is one of the best examples. Bricklin is set in the old art deco Hin Bus Depot. The coffee is great, and there is a art space and market at the back of the building. The cafe is not far from KOMTAR (the tallest building in Penang).
Location: 31A Jalan Gurdwara, Georgetown.
Wheeler’s Coffee is in the heart of the popular backpacker street of Love Lane.
Location: 67 Love Lane, Georgetown.
The Alley is set in an old Chinese goods store (“Kedai Gaharu Keat Seang” on the shopfront) near Kuan Yin Teng (Goddess of Mercy Temple). It’s a small cafe with a nice atmosphere, though it only opens at 12pm.
Location: 5 Lorong Stewart, Georgetown.
A fun cafe in the Chinatown street of Lebuh Campbell.
Location: 24, Lebuh Campbell, Georgetown
This cafe on the edge of Little India serves quality coffee in an artistic setting. Bean Sprout is set in two buildings with different rooms to sit in, as well as the top floor which has views of the Goddess of Mercy Temple.
Location: 35 Pitt Street (Masjid Kapitan Keling), Georgetown.
Black Kettle is in a prominent building on the corner of Beach and Chulia Street and has an impressive bakery.
Location: 105 Beach Street, Georgetown.
The Twelve Cups
The Twelve Cups is a modern cafe in the historic WhiteAways Arcade in the old banking district of Beach St.
Location: 12, The WhiteAways Arcade, Beach St, Georgetown
Narrow Marrow is housed in a long and skinny shophouse and is filled with interesting artwork and recycled furniture. They were playing some cool independent tunes which was a nice break from the usual popular music. Check the hours as it’s not open every day.
Location: 252 Lebuh Carnarvon, Georgetown
SiTigun Micro Coffee Roastery
SiTigun is a coffee roastery previous located at 30 Jalan Nagor.
Location: 28 Jalan Nagor, Georgetown
The Light’s Cafe
The Light’s Cafe is next to the Penang Town Hall, opposite the Padang.
Location: Jalan Padang Kota Lama, Georgetown
Coffee and Friends
Location: 221 Lebuh Kimberley, Georgetown
Meet Up @ Grano De Cafe
Location: 158-160 Hutton Lane, Georgetown
Location: 435 Lebuh Chulia, Georgetown
Location: Logan Heritage Building, 4 Bishop Street, Georgetown.
Location: 72&74 Lebuh China, Georgetown
The mania of cat cafes that is sweeping across Asia has arrived in Penang. Probably not the most productive place to work from but nice if you like having cats around (and who doesn’t?)
Location: 53 Jalan Muntri, Georgetown.
Beyond Georgetown, if you are staying near Gurney Drive then ECC Coffee is a good option.
Location: Menara Gurney R-G-B1-2, Jalan Kelawai
The Morning After @ PIA
If you are flying internationally from Penang then wait until you are airside to have a coffee at The Morning After.
Location: Departures Level 2, Penang International Airport
Cafes that were featured on this list that have since closed.
Budan’s Brew – 2 Lorong Argus, Georgetown.
Kantan Kafe – 4 Lebuh Campbell, Georgetown.
Sugar Honey – 26 Lebuh Campbell, Georgetown.
Lighthouse Coffee – 26 Lebuh Bishop, Georgetown.
Love & Latte – 86 Love Lane, Georgetown.