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Taiping See: Historical Antong Coffee Mill (安东咖啡厂) since 1933 (2017)


Antong Coffee Mill in Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

I did not know about Antong Coffee Mill (安东咖啡粉厂), the oldest mill in Malaysia since 1933, until I was in Taiping, Perak. As a coffee-lover, I did not hesitate to make a visit to this 84 years old historical mill, which had preserved its traditional way of making wood-roasted coffee powder till this day.


The visit to Antong was more travel-worthy than visiting a modern coffee factory — I did not have a chance yet.

The Showroom

First thing I did after reaching the premise of Antong Coffee Mill was to check out the old-day displays outside the showroom. Antongcafe was their registered trademark.

Antong Coffee Showroom

Apart from a tricycle and traditional coffee wares, there were various types of coffee beans from different countries displayed on a retro wooden counter. Antong used local coffee beans from Klang suppliers but also import from other countries, such as Indonesia, Brazil, etc.

Coffee beans

On a wall of the showroom were some murals where visitors could sit and drink coffee with the murals and take photos.

Murals at Antong Coffee Mill

I was lucky to catch a well-known Malaysian artist (can't recall the name after the trip) adding a rain tree to one of the walls that day.

Artist painting a rain tree

In the coffee mill, the workers were happily "coffee-brewing". How I know? See what's written on the back of their shirts. 😄

I love Antongcafe

There were 7 stages in the coffee-making process (see next section).


Traditional Coffee-Making Process

The old mill was not very big, yet it enclosed all the "facilities" for turning coffee beans into coffee powders.

Historical coffee mill

First, the coffee beans were roasted in a spinning oven using wood fire until cracking sounds were heard. Wood-fired roasting method was slower but aimed to preserve more flavours in the beans as compared to other fast-roasting methods.

Roasting over wood-fire

After the coffee beans were roasted, they were allowed to cool before being transferred to two large spinning wheels to remove the husks by abrasion. Once the coffee beans were shelled and ground, they were ready to be mixed.

Removing husks by abrasion

Coffee mixing was done in two large vats over wood fires. The woods were salvaged from torn-down houses.

Coffee Mixing over wood fires

The coffee beans were cooked in a black syrup of melted sugar, salt and margarine or butter. Timing and controlling the temperature was crucial at this stage to maintain consistency of the mixing — and done by experienced staff only.

Mixing with sugar in vats

Once the mixing was done, the thick and pulpy coffee mixture was scooped out of the vat and spread on a large metal plate for cooling.

Cooling the mixture

The black pulp crystallised (turn solid) as it cooled. The hardened coffee mixture was then smashed manually into small fragments.

Fragmenting solid coffee mixture

These fragments were then sent to the grinder to mill into coarse-grained powders and packed in tin cans — which were normally sold to local coffee shops to make kopi-o (black coffee).

Fragments of coffee mixture before grinding

Antong also had a modern coffee factory just behind the old mill to produce fine-grained coffee powders to meet Malaysia’s internal demands.



Coffee Tasting

A cafe beside the showroom provided various brews of Antong's coffee in self-service dispensers for sampling. There were black coffee, white coffee (pre-mixed differently and served with creamer), mocha and also durian-flavoured ones.

coffee tasting

There were little bread rolls, called roti kok, for eating with the coffee — a nostalgic way to have coffee for older local folks. And was probably the only place that still had roti kok for coffee.

Coffee and roti kok

Thick black coffee was my usual preference. I added two packets from Antong to my backpack with another two packets bought in Malacca.

Antongcafe Kopi-O Kao

Visiting Antong Coffee Mill

Antong Coffee Mill is opened to visitors without the need to make appointments (but it would be better to call ahead if you are organising a large group as the mill is pretty small). Although the premise is opened daily, the mill — where the coffee beans are made into coffee powder — is closed on weekends and during lunch time.

So, weekdays are better visiting time. The premise is opened daily from 8:30am to 5:30pm. And understand the making processes through guided tour.

The historical coffee mill is very near to Taiping Railway Station, about 1 km (15 minutes’ walk) from the clock tower in front of Taiping Wet Market.

It is advisable to visit the factory by means of a car or cab because the factory is right beside a highway. If walking to Antong, do follow the green route shown in the map below to avoid making a detour round the estate when following the road.


Address:

No. 8A, Jalan Assam Kumpang, 34000 Taiping, Perak, Malaysia

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