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 passion. If 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
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.
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!
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..