Published: Saturday May 10, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Friday May 16, 2014 MYT 3:54:52 PM

OLDTOWN White Coffee: Secrets of the brew

Our visitor to Old Town in Ipoh, Perak caps her experience with a visit to a white coffee factory.

One of the souvenirs many visitors to Ipoh Old Town take home with them is a bag of the famous white coffee – in small, sealed sachets.

How does one capture that lovely, toasty, toffee-like taste of Old Town’s white coffee and channel it into little packets that allow the original white coffee experience to be enjoyed anywhere in the world?

I had a glimpse into how it was done at the Gongga Food factory in nearby Bercham that produces the Nanyang white coffee for the original white coffee brand from Old Town, the eponymous OLDTOWN White Coffee.

The Old Town White Coffee factory in Tasik Industrial Estate that can produce around 35,000kg of finished product every day.
The Old Town White Coffee factory in Tasik Industrial Estate that can produce around 35,000kg of finished product every day.

It begins with the important step of coffee bean selection where the best raw, green coffee beans are sourced from growers in Malaysia and the South-East Asian region.

The OLDTOWN White Coffee is made from a proprietary blend of three types of coffee beans to give it a flavour that will satisfy the widest spectrum of taste buds. The superior Arabica beans, from which all fine, speciality and fancy grade coffees are brewed, give the coffee its distinctive aroma and structure; Robusta beans are what give coffee that desirable, strong and, well, robust taste; and Liberica leaves behind a lingering aftertaste.

The company’s coffee experts appraise the beans based on their size, colour, and moisture content to select the best. However, the real secret to the wonderful white coffee taste, according to a company spokesperson, lies in the ratio of the three beans that form the perfect cocktail (or coffee, in this case).

The three types of coffee beans are roasted separately to preserve and tease out their unique characteristics, at temperatures between 120°C to 200°C. The small roasters churn out just between 15 to 20kg each time.

Once the roasted beans have cooled for 10 minutes and dried, they are crushed and ground into powder.

Once ground, it moved to the mixing and packaging stage.

Coffee beans are roasted between 120 to 200 degrees Celsius.
Coffee beans are roasted between 120 and 200 degrees Celsius.

The brand’s famous 3-in-1 white coffee is produced at another factory: a much larger, state-of-the-art facility in Tasek Industrial Estate. The White Café plant is where all the mixing takes place: the instant coffee, creamer, and sugar are prepared to a proprietary formula.

The finished products are separated into numbered bins according to its production time, which is a part of the quality control measures; the first bin in will be the first one out for packaging.

To maintain freshness, the coffee powder is immediately packed within the premises, hence also minimising any possibility of contamination.

While the Gongga plant may be efficient – it produces around 1,500kg of coffee powder every day – it can hardly compete with the brand’s new White Café plant that produces around 35,000kg of finished product every day, thanks to the sophisticated machinery and the 200-plus workers there.

At White Café, the brand produces different flavoured white coffees such as Classic, Hazelnut, Cane Sugar, Coffee and Creamer, and Ice Cold. The ingredients are pre-mixed according to a schedule – raw materials are pumped into a high-tech processor made of stainless steel. This modern system processes the raw materials faster and more hygienically in a partially automated environment.

The coffee mix is stored in silos and channelled via a system of pipes to the next stage of production: packaging.
The coffee mix is stored in silos and channelled via a system of pipes to the next stage of production: packaging.

The coffee mixtures are then placed in silos known as “hoppers” which then channel the mixtures to the production area, a space where a row of six-lane packaging and sealing machines, or the six-laners as they are fondly called, spew sachets of the 3-in-1s that are sold in the market.

As the OLDTOWN White Coffee is being sold in a number of countries, such as the United States, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, and etc., the packaging needs to adhere to different country guidelines and specifications.

Once packaging is completed, the products will reach the cartoning area before being sent off to the warehouse via an internal bridge for distribution.

The production plant also houses a laboratory where food technicians conduct R&D efforts that include experiments to develop the taste and quality of OLDTOWN White Coffee products, which have also been certified halal.

The in-house taste experts will also subject each batch of the 3-in-1 packets to a sensory evaluation to decide if the batch makes the cut and can be released on the market.

>This story on Ipoh Old Town is part of a series made possible by OLDTOWN White Coffee, maker of the bestselling 3-in-1 white coffee sachets.

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle, old town white coffee

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