Kuala Lumpur is a major hub for travel in Southeast Asia and is a great city to make a stop-over. While I’ve always enjoyed coming here for the food and to go shopping at familiar stores, the cafe scene has consisted mostly of the big chains (Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf et al).
The good news is that KL has an emerging cafe culture with third wave cafes serving cold brew coffee and flat whites popping up everywhere.
Continuing my “cafes to work from” series I have compiled a list of cafes where location independent workers and digital nomads would feel at home at. For the purpose of this list I have focussed mainly on the areas of KL where a visitor would usually stay.
The areas of KL covered include Bukit Bintang, Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, and Bangsar.
Kuala Lumpur Cafes Maps
If you use Foursquare save the Kuala Lumpur cafes list.
Feeka Coffee Roasters is the pick of the cafes in the Bukit Bintang area. This cafe serves up proper flat whites and cold brew coffee. I love the location as well, being in the leafy back-streets away from the busy Jl Bukit Bintang.
Location: 19, Jalan Mesui, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
A cool cafe near Bukit Bintang that is great to work in. It’s on the other side of Jalan Pudu but worth crossing the road for if you are staying in this area.
Location: 2, Jalan Galloway, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
Chocha Foodstore is a great example of how the heritage buildings buildings of the Chinatown area can be repurposed. This shophouse has been renovated to fit the purpose of a modern cafe, with the best interior details left intact.
Location: 156 Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur
Another Chinatown cafe that is making use of historic shophouses is Merchant’s Lane. The small street-level entrance does not give away the bright, spacious interior.
Location: 150 Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur
Leaf & Co. Cafe
Leaf & Co. Cafe is in a prominent corner heritage building, under the Mingle Hostel.
Location: 53 Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur
Lucy In The Sky
This cafe is in the heart of the budget guesthouse area of Chinatown, so it’s good option if you are staying around there. Great espresso coffee and working spaces.
Location: 167, Jalan Tun H S Lee, Kuala Lumpur
Not far from the craziness from the Petaling Street market is this cafe which has a surprising amount of floor space for the location.
Location: 1st Floor, 54, Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur
A few doors down from Coffee Amo is another cafe that has made good use of the 1st floor of an old Chinatown shophouse.
Location: 1st Floor, 58, Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur
LOKL Coffee Company
The best option on this side of Chinatown. LOKL serve great coffee and specialise in western breakfasts.
Location: 30, Jalan Tun H S Lee, Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur City Centre
Eight Ounce Coffee
Eight Ounce Coffee can be found in KLCC, the giant mall at the base of the Petronas Towers. I just happened upon it by chance as I wasn’t expecting to find anything here. This is an independent cafe but it looks like what a 3rd-wave coffee shop would look like if it became a chain (maybe that is their plan?) I noticed on their Facebook page that they did a field trip to St. Ali cafe in Melbourne, which is a good sign that this establishment knows what they are doing with their coffee.
Location: Shop K13B, KLCC
Avenue K Mall is opposite KLCC and has a surprising selection of cafes beyond the usual suspects that can be found in malls. In the basement (Concourse Level) near the MRT entrance is Urbean, which is a cafe that has made a pleasant little environment considering it’s in the basement of a mall.
Location: Concourse Level, Unit C-14, Avenue K, 156 Jalan Ampang
Next to Urbean is another cafe serving real coffee so pick which appeals to you, or whichever has an available table.
Location: Concourse Level, Unit C-13, Avenue K, 156 Jalan Ampang
The Library Coffee Bar
Also in the Avenue K Mall is Library Coffee Bar – a small Malaysian cafe chain. As the name suggests it has a library theme, with a bookshelf that evokes a time when people used to go to cafes to read books. Todays books are now MacBooks, and there is a good selection of tables, with the ones on the wall having plenty of power outlets. It’s on the ground floor by to the entrance next to Johnny Rockets.
Location: Lot G-8B, Ground Floor, Avenue K, 156 Jalan Ampang
Like the cafes in the shopping malls, I wasn’t expecting to find a great cafe in the bowels of a mall and luxury hotel complex. This cozy cafe wouldn’t be out of place in Melbourne; it even sells meat pies and ANZAC biscuits. And most importantly the coffee is excellent, with proper flat whites being served here.
Location: C-12-02, The Intermark, 348 Jalan Tun Razak
Dr. Cafe is a good option if you happen to be staying in one of the many big-name hotels along this stretch of Jalan Sultan Ismail. This is a chain that proclaim to have “the best coffee in the world.” It didn’t try but I would hazard a guess to say it isn’t. What I do know though is that this cafe has lots of tables to work from and it is gloriously air-conditioned.
Location: Life Centre Building, 20 Jalan Sultan Ismail
With a name like Antipodean I had to visit this one (Antipodean being the name for Australian and New Zealanders in the UK). They have a few branches and I visited the Bangsar cafe. Upon arrival I was greeted by a friendly Antipodean who introduced the menu. Printouts of Australian newspapers are available here if you prefer to read the paper while having a coffee.
Location: 20, Jalan Telawi 2, Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur
Coffea is a coffee chain and this branch is located in the midst of the Jalan Telawi 2 shopping area.
Location: 2, 11, Jalan Telawi 2, Bangsar Baru
A cafe in the same building with a co-working space (The Co.)
Location: 8, Lengkok Abdullah, Bangsar
On my first visit to KL in 2006 I discovered the delights of iced coffee in a bag. Bagged beverages is a thing in Southeast Asia, so I had to try this out for myself. The iced coffee from King of Tea in Chinatown is one I continually go back to.
[King of Tea]
Don’t let the name put you off, my fellow coffee fiends. And don’t worry about Nescafe on the sign either; you’ll only get Nescafe if you ask for it.
The coffee is filtered though a Chinese coffee sock and mixed with sweetened condensed milk.
[Chinese Coffee Sock]
The coffee is then poured into a bag of ice. It’s a strong and sweet brew for 1.60 MYR (40c US).
[Iced coffee in a bag]
I know there are lots more great cafes but KL is a big, sprawling city that is hard to get around beyond the central area without a car. If you’re from KL and are wondering why places like Petaling Jaya isn’t on the list, that’s why.
I’m in KL at least twice a year so if you have any suggestions I will visit them next time.
If you are also visiting Penang check out the Penang cafes guide.
For more cafe ideas check out this list of the best cafes in Kuala Lumpur.
Cafes come and go, so here is the KL cafe graveyard:
Paper + Toast A-0-5 One Residency, 1 Jalan Nagasari.
DR.inc 8, Jalan Kemuja, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.
David A. Greene says
James, Did you get to the Royal Selangar Golf Course? I was there in 1966. Quite a place. Playing golf was like playing in a steam bath.
James Clark says
Hi David, I’m not much of a golfer but the RSGC is still there. That would have been amazing to see KL in the 60’s – you would barely recognise it now!
Just being pedantic, but I think I’ve heard that Coffea Coffee is actually Korean, while Dr Cafe may well be from the Philippines. Neither are Malaysian. Although 8oz certainly is (I know the owner)!
James Clark says
Hi Rachel, thanks for the correction! I had a look at Dr Cafe and they don’t display their origin, though it appears to be Saudi. Can’t find anything for Coffea as well so I just m=removed any reference at all. Cheers.
These all look like really great café’s. I never really thought of Kuala Lumpur having great coffee, but this might have changed my mind.
Dear Joseph, my interest when I was in Kuala Lumpur in 1966 was tiger beer.The saying was put a tiger in your tank.
LOL’ed at your comment, “Tiger Beer, the saying was put a tiger in your tank”
You must have spent a lot of effort on the photos and the entire write up. Your posts shows you are having so much fun it makes the other frequent travelers looked so mediocre. Will be subscribing to your blog 🙂
Leandro Thomas says
Great, extensive list once again. Am linking to this from the KL section of my site. All the best!
James Clark says
Alexandra Black-Paulick says
This is a life safer! In fact, the entire series is. VCR totally gets the digital nomad thing. AND their food is scrumptious. Other shout out to LOKL Coffee Company.
-Paper + Toast is in the process of moving.
-Einstein Coffee transitioned more into a restaurant. Saw a sign outside their door with free wifi crossed out.
Used your stuff in Hanoi as well. Thanks for putting this together! And, thank you for going the extra mile to put everything into a map. As a traveler, that is the BEST thing a blog can do. I spend so much time evaluating where everything is based on where I am…
Keep up the great work!
David Greene says
Have you ever been to the Royal Salangor Golf course in Kuala Lumpur?
James Clark says
Thanks Alexandra! I seem to end up in KL a couple of times a year so no doubt the cafe landscape will have changed by then. I appreciate the update.
Useful list – I will check them out when I go to KL 🙂
Paper + Toast has moved. Might want to update that (their google listing is still wrong)
A few years ago I was on a business trip to Kuala Lumpur. Until now, I can not forget these impressions. Life there is absolutely different than in Europe and America. It seems that you are falling into another world.
Fabian Keresztfalvi says
Great list! Thanks for sharing. Very useful, and will use this list when I get a chance to travel to KL.
As an up coming coffee enthusiast, kudos for sharing the list, will be quite helpful when planning a visit to KL.
Mark Cvetkovski says
Didn’t know there was so much good coffee around KL! Only thought that it was good food that KL had in abundance.