Unlock The Bars: Lumi Bar extracts the essence of Ipoh White Coffee in a cognac-based negroni using Martell Noblige

Chang Jiang White Coffee
Chang Jiang White Coffee

Unlock The Bars by Martell Noblige is back for a whole new season with interesting new ingredients and unique home DIY cocktail recipes that will be unveiled for you to try at home at the end of each episode. The third episode of Season 3 highlights Perak’s Lumi Bar with the featured ingredient, Ipoh White Coffee. 

Quintessential to many yet imperative to most, coffee is de rigueur for locals in Ipoh, Perak — more specifically Ipoh White Coffee or more commonly known as ‘pak kopi’ (translates white coffee in Cantonese). Ipoh White Coffee is a must-have when you’re visiting Ipoh city and the drink is so popular that Lonely Planet has even named the Perak capital as one of the top three coffee towns to visit in Asia.

But do you know that white coffee has never been intended to be a milk coffee? 

“A lot people has that misconception that pak kopi is milk coffee. But actually, it is in the roasting process that gives it its distinct flavours,” confides Mr. Kong Kin Loong, who is the head behind Chang Jiang White Coffee. 

A typical ‘pak kopi’ at Chang Jiang Coffee Shop
A typical ‘pak kopi’ at Chang Jiang Coffee Shop

In this episode, we travel up to Perak’s capital, Ipoh to unravel the making of Ipoh White Coffee and find out how the flavours of ‘pak kopi’ can be used in a specialty cocktail made with Martell Noblige. Joining us are host Anjoe Koh, as well as founder of Lumi Bar Johnny Liew. 

‘Ipoh Mali’ Johnny set up Lumi Bar in 2019 as a cool speakeasy bar specialising in modern disco-era cocktails, or drinks that will leave you feeling good all night long. In his repertoire are creations that appears visually stunning in terms of colour with a saccharine, post-dinner vibe. Lumi Bar is unassuming too, located around one of the busiest traffic junctions in Ipoh overlooking the iconic Sultan Yussuf roundabout. But once inside, Lumi Bar shows a different side — one that eases you into its blue-themed interiors with a maximalist floral leitmotif featured behind the bar counter. 

We arrive bright and early, ready to chow into the gastronomic scene Ipoh is known for. Born and raised in Ipoh, Johnny wastes no time as he takes us to what matters most in the morning — a dose of caffeine. 

Meeting the man who coined ‘Ipoh Pak Kopi’

We make our way straight to the source — Chang Jiang White Coffee headquarters. Mr. Kong welcomes us with a gregarious spirit and a warm smile. All pumped up, he explains that the factory has been around for over 40 years as he points to the tireless roasters where the famed Ipoh White Coffee was first created. 

Mr. Kong grew up helping his father’s coffee chop — Chang Jiang Coffee Shop — located along Jalan Pasir Putih in Ipoh. He was merely 12 years old when he started to get involved in the business. “In the beginning, I had to learn how to make the drinks at the coffee shop. At that time, my father was also roasting coffee as well,” he recalls.

Through many trials and errors in the roasting process, his father, Mr. Kong Wing Kheong, was finally able to perfect the recipe — the new coffee variety which had a lighter colour as compared to the conventional ones. 

“It was blonde but it tasted really good. Locals loved it. So I jested and asked my father to add the word ‘pak’ before ‘kopi’ on the shop’s signboard, thus giving the drink its moniker — White Coffee,” adds the second generation at the helm. 

Like the process of making cognac, every process of making coffee is different and never one note. Mr. Kong is the ‘master’ here, explaining the varying factors that can affect the desired taste of his ultimate ‘blend’. “The beans play a huge role. It depends on the moisture level and the beans — every batch is different. You have to count on your gut feeling. Here, we all are trained and have the experience to know when the time is right,” he narrates. 

He throws in a few key ingredients that make Ipoh White Coffee alluringly robust, rich and creamy — or as how the locals like to say ‘kaw’. “We use vegetable oil, salt and sugar to balance the flavours of the roasted beans. One cannot do without the other,” he continues as he leads us through the factory permeating with the beautiful toasty fragrance of the coffee beans. 

“It is key to note that coffee beans cannot be roasted for too long — it loses its flavours and authentic tastes when coming in contact with extreme heat. As coffee roasters, we put in utmost care while keeping an eye on every roast to ensure the best quality in our coffee,” adds the man who first created the term ‘white coffee’ as a teenager — a visionary at a young age.

Mr. Kong has not only coined the name ‘Ipoh White Coffee’, but has since expanded the business exponentially as the first white coffee supplier in the history of Ipoh with the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) accreditation and a global reception. Chang Jiang White Coffee now includes plants to produce white coffee on a larger scales to countries including China, Taiwan, Indonesia and more.  

Getting our ‘coffee fix’

Back at the bar, Johnny prepares his cocktail recipe with swift hands. He admits how much of a coffee lover he is and just like fellow javaphile Anjoe, both have to start the day with a cup of coffee. Johnny loves his Ipoh White Coffee just the way it is — sans milk and unsweetened. He opines that it is the best way to enjoy the robust roasted nuances and the subtle fragrance of coffee in its purest form. 

Adopting a similar approach of enjoying coffee, he applies the V60 filtering technique to prepare this coffee-inspired cocktail made with Martell Noblige. “I also happen to love Negroni, and it is my go-to drink almost everyday — just like coffee!” he shares. His Negroni-inspired cocktail comprises Italian bitter, sweet vermouth and gula Melaka syrup. He replaces the base spirit with the star ingredient, Martell Noblige.

“Personally, I think Martell Noblige works better than gin in this concoction as the coffee pulls out the winter spices and dried fruits in the cognac,” he continues while preparing the next steps which includes filtering the ‘Negroni’ mixture of sweet vermouth, gula Melaka syrup, Italian bitter and Martell Noblige. He quick-chill the concoction with ice before pouring it over the V60 filter, now filled with a sachet of Chang Jiang coffee powder. For the uninitiated, the V60 filter is the simplest drip coffee making method that has been used for centuries before the creation of espresso-based coffee. 

Johnny pours the mixture through a V60 coffee filter filled with a sachet of Chang Jiang Ipoh White Coffee powder.
Johnny pours the mixture through a V60 coffee filter filled with a sachet of Chang Jiang Ipoh White Coffee powder.

While waiting for the cocktail to drip slowly into the serving glass, Anjoe couldn’t help but notice how glossy and effervescent the texture of the liquid gold. The smell of coffee percolates.

One spritz of orange peel later, Johnny presents the ‘White Swift’, an elegant cocktail that marries the qualities of a great Negroni but elevated and refined. On the nose, the brightness from the oils of the zesty orange perfumes the cocktail. The coffee fragrance hits you on the first sip, almost instantly but quickly dissipates into the wholesome expressions of Martell Noblige — warm spiced candied fruits. 

It is a full bodied cocktail — almost perplexing when downed all at once but Johnny suggests small sips like enjoying a glass of Negroni — an elevated version no less. This mixture with a Martell Noblige twist is truly something magical on the palette — easy to drink and lightly sweetened but don’t be fooled by the smooth texture — it is quite a high-proof cocktail.

A touch of chocolate bitters also balances the overall flavours, layering the caramel and vanilla notes of Martell Noblige with complex undertones. Anjoe agrees that it is a drink for her, citing the right amount of sweetness to her liking. 

Anjoe Koh demonstrates the making of Kopi Rhapsody
Anjoe Koh demonstrates the making of Kopi Rhapsody

Anjoe proceeds to concoct a DIY cocktail recipe called Kopi Rhapsody.

A spiked coffee? This pick me up is exactly that and more. A cross between a tiramisu and a milk coffee in a glass, this creamy and decadent DIY cocktail celebrates the beautiful flavours of Ipoh White Coffee and the integrity of Martell Noblige — both respectively crafted with the most refined craftsmanship and an audacious spirit.

Just as how the coffee beans are roasted with fervour, the drink is bold yet easy to make at home. Anjoe demonstrates the DIY cocktail “Kopi Rhapsody” with such ease, first dissolving the 2-in-1 Chang Jiang White Coffee powder with 120ml of hot water. In that mix, she pours in 15ml of honey to lightly sweeten the mixture. Ice is added afterwards, followed by Martell Noblige. And the garnish — an orange slice for a zesty finish. 

It is a foolproof cocktail just like the “White Swift”, easy on the palate while heroing the local Ipoh White Coffee front and centre. Here, Martell Noblige plays a pivotal role in adding depth and character to the cocktail with its harmonious warmth and spiced yet fruity notes. Coffee and cognac — dare we say the perfect matrimony. 

Chang Jiang White Coffee
The White Swift made using Chang Jiang White Coffee powder and Martell Noblige.

For the adventurous, you can replicate this cocktail with the recipe below.

45ml Martell Noblige

20ml Italian bitter

15ml sweet vermouth 

7.5ml gula Melaka syrup

10g Chang Jiang Ipoh White Coffee powder (one sachet)

2 dashes chocolate bitters

Orange peel for garnish 

*V60 filter is required for the best results

Martell Noblige
Kopi Rhapsody featuring the 2-in-1 Chang Jiang Ipoh White Coffee and Martell Noblige.

You can also make your very own Ipoh White Coffee inspired cocktail, “Kopi Rhapsody” with a few simple ingredients — just like making coffee at home!

45ml Martell Noblige

20g 2-in-1 Chang Jiang Ipoh White Coffee (replaceable with any unsweetened milk coffee or 2-in-1 coffee mix at home)

120ml hot water

15ml honey  

Orange slice for garnish 

For a limited time only, make a visit to Lumi Bar in Ipoh, Perak to enjoy these cocktails and experience the unique expressions of coffee paired with Martell Noblige. Featured White Swift and Kopi Rhapsody will be available at Lumi Bar, Ipoh from 1 January 2023 to 28 February 2023.

Unlock the Bars is a collaborative initiative between Martell and Lifestyle Asia Kuala Lumpur to explore the possibilities of blending Martell Noblige cognac with locally-inspired elements. Unlock the Bars travels to different cities in Malaysia to unearth new talents in the country’s vibrant bar scene and invites you to taste the unique creations of Martell Noblige.

Special thanks Chang Jiang White Coffee & Volkswagen Malaysia

The post Unlock The Bars: Lumi Bar extracts the essence of Ipoh White Coffee in a cognac-based negroni using Martell Noblige appeared first on Lifestyle Asia Kuala Lumpur.