Coffee Smith @ Karpal Singh Drive

Last Friday, me and an ex-colleague went out for lunch. We were both pretty stressed up and wanted to find some place nice to have a 2 hours bitching session. We ended up coming to Coffee Smith at Karpal Singh Drive.

For those of you who didn’t know, Karpal Singh is a legendary politician from an opposition party. Well the opposition party won Penang state since the 2008 elections so I guess they are the government here. Anyway, he passed away earlier this year and they renamed a road after him. Hence Karpal Singh Drive.

This Coffee Smith has been around for quite a few months I think. To be honest, I kind of like this one. I don’t know if I have ever mentioned it before in the blog, but I am generally pretty disappointed with most of the new F&B establishments sprouting out in Penang in recent years. It seems to me that in recent years, there are many aspiring but otherwise misguided working level people who became worried about the unstable volatile employment market, started reading success stories about Steve Jobs or Tony Fernandes, and then decided that “I have a dream. I want to open a restaurant/coffee house/whatever-it-is-I-think-will-boom and get rich.

Most of them don’t really know what they are doing. They just dump a chunk of money setting up a shop, and then expect business to pick up so that they can ride off into the sunset. They don’t even bother to quit their jobs to focus on their new venture full time. I know, because I’ve talked to quite a few of these fellas before. I have been approached by quite a few of these fellas trying to convince me to invest in what they think is their passionIf you came here from Facebook, I am not referring to any of you guys, the guys that I am referring to are not in my Facebook so don’t bother figuring out whose who.

I blame those autobiographies for being awesome motivational books at the expense of sugarcoating the harsh reality. No, I guess I don’t blame those autobiographies. I blame those gullible fools who did not learn how to interpret the books. Actually what most motivational books (like Rich Dad series) do is teach you to be brave to take charge of your own future, and then work hard for it. But they never teach you the technical aspects of working hard. If you want to open a shop then you need to then work hard on finding out what to work hard on in order to successfully run a business. Gullible fools never go so far. They read motivational books and then believe they can already conquer the world with next to no knowledge. They would only be equipped with the idea of wanting to get rich, but ill equipped to actually deal with a business, taking risks without knowing how big those risks actually are. And they don’t really know what working hard really means.

Oh gosh, what am I talking about here? Right.. Coffee Smith..

I am glad to observe that I don’t think the owners for this Coffee Smith are the sort of gullible fools that I just mentioned. I think this thing is actually a franchise from Taiwan, so that might help. I like this place, and I think if they maintain their standards, they will be a properly successful coffee house. Why?

1. Proper Environment

coffee smith

The decorations in Coffee Smith have a solid theme. And they have matching tables and chairs. And they are properly spaced. And they can actually serve big groups. Unlike most of those quirky little cafes downtown. Gosh, I cannot stand those quirky little cafes that have oddly shaped tables, mismatched chairs and uneven spacing and then pass it off as unique decoration.

And Coffee Smith has a proper menu. A menu that looks like newspaper, but a proper menu nonetheless. One that actually helps the diners to know what to order and how to order. Quirky little cafes sometimes have their menu handwritten on napkins or brown paper bags, sometimes they don’t even bother to provide menus to the customers and just scribble their menu on the walls in a few different spots with barely legible handwriting.

2. Good Location (Out of Town)

Most of the newer cafes are located in Georgetown proper. I hate going into Georgetown proper for no good reason. I hate it because it is always congested, and it is always a nightmare to find parking.

Coffee Smith is located in Karpal Singh Drive which is on the outskirts of Georgetown. The place is well known enough that everyone knows how to get there, and still out of the way enough that the area is not too congested and finding parking is a breeze. I love easy parking, it is one of the most important aspects for me to choose an eatery.

Speaking of breeze, this place is just by the sea overlooking the Penang First Bridge, you can get some decent sea breeze from here.

3. Good Coffee

I’m not a huge fan of gourmet coffee. The most sophisticated coffee that I can recognize are Green Tea Latte and Hazelnut Latte (both from Starbucks ironically). To me, there is either good coffee or bad coffee. You ask me how to distinguish between Americano or Espresso Macchiato or Cafe au Lait and I will just stare at you with a blank face for maybe 5 seconds. And then I will tell you: “F**k it! Who cares?“. Actually, I think most Malaysians really love Starbucks (I do) and don’t really know what they’re drinking either, they just pretend to hate Starbucks and know their coffee just to look good in front of others. 

And I judge whether the coffee is good is by drinking them, not looking at the art on the surface foam. I have not ordered any special coffee types from here yet. Both times I came here for lunch, so I only ordered their set meals which come with a cup of basic black coffee and a cup of concentrated fruit juice. The basic black coffee is enough for me to decide that their coffee is good. Actually, what I mean is I like their coffee. It has a rather subtle bitterness to it. And they are served with brown sugar instead of white sugar which I think is always a plus.

coffee smith


4. Great Food

Did I mention that both times I came were for food? The food is great! I don’t remember the names of my orders, but the food is great!

coffee smith
The ex-colleague’s order: some minced beef bruschetta or something.
coffee smith
My order: Fried fish fillet with french toast or something.

Actually, what the hell am I doing? I’m not supposed to try to promote this place. I want to keep the crowds away..

Forget what I said above. I don’t think this place is all that great. It probably only felt great because I get to have a 2 hours bitching session with the ex-colleague to de-stress. That must be it. Under normal circumstances, I probably wouldn’t find this place all that wonderful. Yeah..

coffee smith


  1. Definitely in agreement with you about what you said. To have a successful business requires more than the financial capital, good food and good environment. You need that special something that will keep inducing the customers to return or continue patronizing the services.

    I’m a coffee lover and I can’t distinguish a café latte from a cappuccino either.

  2. I agree 110% with you on what you said about those people having high aspirations of running a successful cafe/restaurant. When we read about success stories, we only read about the success but not the failures and shit those people had to go through before they rose to the top. It is no wonder that there are many eateries mushrooming at my area only to shut down within months. Some are lucky if they survive for a year. If you want to run a joint, you have to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. No one is going to do it for you. If you leave it to others to run the show, expect to be disappointed.

    Anyway, coming back to this Coffee Smith, the food looks nice served on chopping board (hope they clean it properly hee..hee). Portion size looks small, are they?

  3. Ok, let’s see…some of the things I do agree:
    1) bitching is good for de-stressing
    2) quite a lot of young people have left their cushy jobs to be their own boss, some not knowing what they’re getting themselves into
    3) there’s only good coffee and bad coffee. I drink a lot of coffee (love Starbucks too) but (like you) I can’t differentiate how a good one is better than another

    Stuff I don’t agree:
    1) I like quirky cafes with mismatched tables and chairs…not so boring-lah than matchy-matchy stuff. Anyway, it’s the rage here!
    2) although I don’t judge a coffee by their latte art, I do love a good coffee art so that we can take pic…we’re ladies mah!

    P/S: Suituapui is right…serving on chopping boards is the trend now (just look at some of my food posts and you’ll know). If you’ve haven’t seen means you’re not eating out (at cafes) often enough …kekeke :D!! But the faucet on the chopping board…now that I’ve never seen.

    • I agree with the reasons of your disagreements, but those reasons don’t apply to me, so.. yeah 😛
      I really have not been going to the cafes enough. I’m not even sure if I will try to rectify that LOL!

  4. I think it depends on luck also ger la.. Or feng shui, hehe. Kidding.. There are many eateries here in Oasis, Ara Damansara, set up by people you mentioned.. They jack up the prices but surprisingly, some of them maintained.. They have ‘high class’ coffeshop here and they serve nasi lemak for RM19.90 per plate, and pesto carbonarra for RM29.90 per plate! And they are still surviving, crowded too during lunch time.. Fools..

    • Now you know why the government don’t give two shits about increasing our prices and dishing out GST and whatnot. We keep complaining about being poor, having not enough money to survive, etc etc, but come dinner time and weekends, we still burn money at these overpriced eateries. Then our beloved RTM1 and TV3 will run lifestyle programs that show the rural folks how we burn money, and then during elections time the govt can go to the kampungs and declare: “We want to transfer the wealth of those rich city folks to you guys! Vote us!”
      If you are the rural folks, who would you trust?
      Oops, I have been carried away in my reply to your comment.. Yala, a bunch of fools overpaying for cheap food tsk.. 😐

  5. Food looks good – seems to be the trend to serve on a chopping board these days. One kopi-o-peng for me, please, kao kao kao. Hey! Coincidentally, I have that in my post today!

    • Huh? Trend? This place is actually the first (and only) place I’ve seen it.
      You don’t order kopi-o-peng in places such as these, they will stare at you like a moron LOL! And the price range is different 😀

  6. So unique that they serve the food on wooden cutting boards. I am indifferent to coffee. I only cukai drink some from spouse when he drinks them. Once I abandoned my Americano coffee drink because it is too bitter for me to handle. After that I don’t order coffee anymore.

    Do you drink coffee at home in Penang?

    • Nope, I have 3-in-1 coffee in the office, but only 3-in-1 oats sachets at home. I always use 1 sachet of this to mix with some organic oats when I feel like having oats.

  7. Promoting them is good for you and for them mah. They get more business and so they stay in business longer than those other fools you mentioned and you get to go to this place longer for more de-stress sessions.

    • You know, last time I wrote about that Pan Mee place, shortly after their business begin to pick up. Nowadays it is so crowded and hard to find parking space even at 3.30PM all the time. I have not eaten there for almost a month now. I don’t know if my blog helped that situation or not (I got 100 page views for it through Google). I’m happy they are making money now, but I’m sad that I can hardly go eat there anymore.. 😐

  8. aiyoh, Karpal Singh Drive??!! i have not heard about this place before, too bad my friend did not bring us there during my visit to Penang two weeks ago.. and i just LOVE how they serve the food!! aiyoh, on a piece of wood, or that was actually a cutting board?? nice presentation leh, cannot eat also can see lor, i like!! hahahaha~~ :p

  9. well…great or no great, i dun tink i will go to this place, it is jst far from KL and i dun go to Penang often. So, continue to let it be ur b**ching paradise! As for me, i b**ch in the office, heck cares! haha!

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