White coffee: Malaysia starts new trend in beverages

Ipoh, the capital city of Perak state, has been one of the pioneers of white coffee in the world. It is more than just coffee to the locals; it is a part of Ipoh's history. In the 19th and early 20th century during the British colonial era, Perak was a booming tin-mining state. Many British tin-mining companies set up bases in Ipoh, making it a prominent city in the country.

The Ipoh Old Town area is where white coffee originated. The town used to be a meeting hub for Chinese migrants, whose special preference inspired the making of white coffee. The name white coffee has nothing to do with the colour of the coffee. The word actually means "without" and "nothing added" in the roasting process.

Regular coffee is normally made by roasting the beans with sugar, margarine and wheat, but white coffee is produced with only margarine - without sugar, giving it a lighter shade.

"You will taste the different layers of flavour in the (white) coffee. It is thick and aromatic," Ho Seong Hoey, a producer of white coffee, told Xinhua news agency. Ho is managing director of Home's Cafe, one of the oldest white coffee makers in Ipoh.

Ho said what made Ipoh's white coffee stand out among the rest are the low temperature, slow-roasting formulas that were created and perfected in the city. According to him, the coffee makers in Ipoh do not use the high-heat, quick-roast methods that most roasters adopt, which usually give coffee the burnt and bitter taste.

As the coffee drinking trend changes across the world, with more fashionable flavours being introduced in cafes, Ipoh's coffee producers are still maintaining the old tradition, serving their signature white coffee like the old times.

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