These days when you crave a cafe latte or a cappuccino you would most probably head down your nearest Starbucks. When you feel like kopi puteh, some roti bakar, or maybe a bowl of telor separuh masak, the first place that would most probably click in your head would be Oldtown Kopitiam.
Both places are modern and trendy, and maintain the authenticity of the coffee/cafe culture. They practice efficient service, and their food and beverages are at a decent price. Not to mention that the food is pretty good.
However, what I dislike is the larger social factors of these ‘mega’ cafes, is that they force the small business owners aside because of their monopolistic nature, which many of these family run restaurants can’t compete.
Oldtown White Coffee models its restaurants based on the Chinese coffee stalls found in Malaysia. Their idea was to bring the larger public back to these coffee stalls, whilst keeping it modern and authentic at the same time. What happened, was a success, with 141 Oldtown Coffee stalls opened in Malaysia, and 2 in Melbourne.
However, the issue is that they have taken a huge portion of this market, and have priced their products so cheaply that the Original kopitiams (which inspired their business) cannot compete with their level of competitiveness, and are slowly fading away and closing down.
Maybe these Old kopitiams need to catch up with modern times, maybe by installing a Wifi modem or having a computer system to enter in orders, but really, that would tarnish the authenticity of these original stalls. Where the long history and people, who’ve been brought up dining at these coffee stalls, have influenced an asian coffee experience which has been deeply embedded into Malaysian culture.
It would be a devastating thought to see these classic coffee shops disappear thorough modernization, but the reality seems very much so. The memories of and images of these historic shops will one day be found only in pictures, probably hung around walls of an Oldtown Kopitiam.