In The RAW

By Stephen Ewashkiw | June 6, 2014

14,937 km so far.

Since we are now in Kuala Lumpur we have been doing what we do every time we get to a city: chores.

We had managed to get a load of laundry done already so didn’t have to worry about that today, but we are behind on the blog, editing photos, workshop planning, and catching up with friends and family.

Also, I finished up the coffee beans I bought in Phnom Penh yesterday. So my bean-less state had to be resolved.

I Like It, RAW

The perfect place to get most of these tasks done is the top-rated coffee roaster in town, RAW.

I had read that it could be tricky to find, as it is situated in the lobby of an office tower. I had dropped a pin on PocketEarth where I thought it should be, had the address, knew which metro station it was near, and that there is a killer view of the Petronas Twin Towers from their cafe.

All of this information led me to expect we could find it easily. However, we are starting to realise nothing is easy to find in this city.

Jane’s note: Nothing is easy to find anywhere in Asia.

Roads are not straight, they can change name without warning, buildings are usually not numbered, streets are not pedestrian-friendly.

How are you supposed to navigate this, in Kuala Lumpur.

How are you supposed to navigate this, in Kuala Lumpur.

It is just downright confusing. Kuala Lumpur is almost certainly the most baffling city we’ve visited.

When we went looking for RAW, I suppose we were distracted by the Petronas Towers, as initially we walked right past it.

Why would this be distracting, Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur.

Why would this be distracting, Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur.

One office building had its address posted, so gave us a starting point. We walked a short distance, and when we asked at a convenience store what their address was we had, of course, walked in the wrong direction.

So we turned around and headed back from where we had just come. Good thing it isn’t incredibly hot out. Oh, wait. It is.

The Petronas Skybridge. At $25 a head, we had to say no.

The Petronas Skybridge. At $25 a head, we had to say no.

Just past the Public Bank building we finally saw it. Through the plate glass windows in the ICBC office tower I spotted a coffee roaster glinting in the lobby. If you come to town looking for RAW, it is on the north side of Jalan Ampang, east of the Public Bank building in the same building as ICBC, just across the road from Petronas Towers.

Now that we finally found it, I just hoped it didn’t disappoint.

Damn Fine Coffee

RAW provides a few brewing techniques to choose from (including siphon, V60, and AeroPress), plus they have several different single origin beans available. They also sell all the Hario accessories (including the hand grinder I am carrying with me on this trip). This was a good start.

A welcome sight, at RAW in Kuala Lumpur.

A welcome sight, at RAW in Kuala Lumpur.

I chose a V60 filter (my preferred way to make coffee), with Tanzania Blackburn beans, which one of the staff had roasted a few days ago.

It was so good I couldn’t believe it. Definitely the best coffee I have had in several months. The barista did a great job of describing the beans to me beforehand – citrus, earthy, cacao, with a punch. He also had a freshly brewed cup I sampled before committing. I was happy to buy a bag of beans to make my own, and if it proves as good when I make it, I will have to buy another bag before we leave town.

To top off the great coffee, they have excellent friendly service. One of the nice things about being a coffee nerd is that other coffee nerds love it when you come to their cafe. As I was finishing my cup, the barista came over and offered me another sample, this time of a geisha-like coffee they had recently got in. It reminded us of the coffees that were all the rage in Sweden when we were there almost a year ago. Quite light, sweet, and almost tea-like.

Books, veggie food, and coffee... we could live here, at RAW in Kuala Lumpur.

Books, veggie food, and coffee… we could live here, at RAW in Kuala Lumpur.

As if that wasn’t enough, RAW also has an all-vegetarian menu, including a vegan tempeh BLT. We couldn’t believe it. Our friend Lauren recently told us about the tempeh burgers in Bali and we have been dreaming of them since. I can’t remember the last time we saw tempeh, but it was likely in Berlin, in September.

The sandwiches were delicious. They wouldn’t have been big enough if we were cycling today, but since we’re just spending the day sitting on our butts, they were perfect.

Tempeh sandwiches at RAW, Kuala Lumpur.

Tempeh sandwiches at RAW, Kuala Lumpur.

I recommend searching out RAW not just for coffee, but also for its excellent, home-cooked food. They also have a restaurant at the back of the office building, which we didn’t manage to get to. Maybe next time.

Melting Away

Behind the Petronas Twin Towers is the KLCC Park, which is one of the top-rated things to do when in Kuala Lumpur.

kuala lumpur petronas towers

Star-shaped Petronas, Kuala Lumpur.

We decided we should wander through it, since it was just across the street.

It is a beautiful park, with ponds, banyan trees, some shade trees, a kids’ wading pool complete with a small waterfall, and great views of the downtown core.

You have to be under 12 to go in here. Lame.

You have to be under 12 to go in here. Lame.

Going for a walk in the park sounds like a good idea, in principle. But in the hot hot sun of a June afternoon in KL, I suppose, in hindsight, it wasn’t so bright. It was hot. I felt like I was melting.

warrior 2 pose in kuala lumpur

Urban warrior, Kuala Lumpur.

We had been planning to continue past the park and go for a kilometre-long walk through the city, but before long I nixed the idea and we headed for shelter in the KLCC Suria shopping mall.

The mall was a shining example of consumerism gone wild. Thousands of people were shopping and to our eyes it was chaos. It was overwhelming to our senses, and sensibilities.

Consumerist chaos, Kuala Lumpur.

Consumerist chaos, Kuala Lumpur.

After all these months on our bikes, in villages and the countryside, to be in the midst of such blatant mass consumerism was difficult. We didn’t stay long, before heading back to to the quiet tranquility of BackHome, our hostel.  

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  1. Comment by Andrea

    Andrea June 9, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Hi Stephen and Jane,
    Just back from Sulawesi,Flores and Komodo area…rustic, simple, hot and sticky…wonderfully rural.
    Maybe this will be another destination beyond Bali?

    Miss Stephen’s yoga.

    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen June 10, 2014 at 6:48 am

      Hi Andrea! I think we will make it to Lombok, but probably not Sulawesi and beyond, although those places sound amazing. And I love Sulawesi coffee beans… I hope to be back for a workshop at MSY before the year is out, or early in 2015. Stay tuned!

  2. Comment by Cassie

    Cassie June 9, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Oof. Is there such a thing as re-entry camp for people who’ve been away from the hustle and bustle for so long? I can imagine how jarring a mall must be to the senses; I hate them and I haven’t been on a bike for over a year.

    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen June 9, 2014 at 6:46 pm

      There should be. For Jane it’s called Vancouver Island. For me? Hong Kong. I think she will have a better time if it.

  3. Comment by Naomi

    Naomi June 9, 2014 at 5:49 am

    I’d say it’s a seahorse.

    • Comment by Cassie

      Cassie June 9, 2014 at 12:04 pm


    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen June 9, 2014 at 6:46 pm

      Definitely a seahorse. Jane was just being sill cause it is a weird looking seashores/lamb cross, or maybe that is meant to be Buddha hair.
      Naomi – are you still on Bali? We will be there in a few weeks…

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