JOEY MAH, CO-FOUNDER AND ROASTER
"I first fell in love with specialty coffee when I had this one cup of espresso. The sweetness and intensity of the coffee was unlike anything I had ever tasted before. I’ve had plenty of espressos in the past but this cup was so exceptional that for the first time I found myself wanting to find out what I drank. Turned out this coffee that would send me down this path was a single origin Brazil Daterra. I spent a lot of my earlier years as a journalist and then in sales and marketing for an automotive accessories company before getting into the coffee world full time.”
From his earlier days volunteering as a barista, Joey has since become one of the driving forces in Malaysia’s specialty coffee scene. He’s sourced and roasted coffee that has won the Malaysia Barista Championships four times and he has been a mentor to a number of these winners in recent year. “I learned a lot from my partners Michael Wilson and Amirah who first brought the Artisan Roast brand over from Scotland,” says Joey. “We then created Artisan Roastery (the roasting arm of the cafes) because we wanted to improve the whole coffee industry in Malaysia. Now we can supply good, well-roasted beans to everyone.”
“It’s going to sound cliché but I believe that one can't do something for a long period of time if there’s no love. Working in coffee is not only a job, but it's a long term commitment. There have been countless sacrifices that we’ve had to make along the way to be able to achieve what we have today, and I can do so without hesitation because I’m pursuing what I love. I would say I'm lucky to be in the industry at the right time with the right people.”
How did you learn to roast coffee?
My biggest influence was Michael de Renouard from Denmark. He taught me the fundamentals of roasting and has spent a lot of time helping me trouble shoot my roasts.
What roasting machine are you using?
Merling 15kg Loring
What do you look for in your roast profiles?
Clarity, texture and finish
What is your go-to pourover recipe?
1:17 for most coffees. Slightly lower 1:15 if its slightly more funky. (92-94°C, about 3:00-3:15 mins)
What is your favourite way of brewing your morning coffee?
Kopi 'o please (black coffee)
Of the cities you’ve travelled to, in there one’s coffee culture that you enjoyed the most?
It has to be Tokyo. It has the most diverse and contrasting coffee culture, everything from the most underdeveloped specialty coffee to the most over-developed roast. It’s also one of the most interesting cities in the world.
What do you think of Malaysia’s coffee scene and how do you think it compares with others around the world?
We are doing pretty well I suppose. There’s a mix of roasters who focus on seasonality, some who focus on price, others who offer specialty liberica coffee and some cafes that focus only on importing coffees. I think I would describe it as complex. It’s unidentified but developing, and hopefully into something great.
“If I didn’t work in the coffee industry, I would want to be a ___________________.”