Old world flavour in Muar


Tee (right) and Pang making coffee and toast using a wood-burning stove. — Photos: THOMAS YONG/The Star

MUAR: The management of a 50-year-old coffeeshop in Jalan Temenggong Ahmad here insists on using a wood-burning stove to boil water and make toasts, foregoing the convenience that a gas stove offers.

Although the price of wood is more expensive compared to gas, its second-generation proprietor Pang Lei Chern, 54, and her husband Tee Joo Chuan, 60, are sticking to the same tradition her father started back in 1970.

She said these days, chopped wood was more difficult to come by but during her father’s time, he would use all sorts of wood that were available such as those from rambutan, mangosteen and durian trees.

“We get our supply from an old friend in his 70s and some other sources. Sometimes, we have to pay more in order to obtain them to run our business.

“Some people laugh at us for paying more compared to what people usually pay for gas and for going through the hassle.

“But we still prefer using a wood-burning stove because it keeps the water temperature consistent compared to a gas stove where the temperature fluctuates at a turn of the knob, ” she said in an interview.

She said the consistent heat from the burning wood was optimum to keep the water temperature just right as well as to make delicious toast and boiled eggs.

Her parents decided to start Kedai Kopi See Hoi after her maternal grandparents closed down their own coffeeshop in Bukit Kepong some 60km away, she explained.

Her parents went with a lorry to pick up the furniture and equipment from her grandparents’ shop as they did not want them to go to waste.

Pang insists on sticking with her parents’ method at the 50-year-old coffeeshop in Muar.Pang insists on sticking with her parents’ method at the 50-year-old coffeeshop in Muar.

“The bread cabinet and some of the tables and chairs used in our shop now were preserved from all those decades ago, ” she added.

Pang said her father, now 81, handed over the business to her mother after suffering from leg problems about two decades ago.

“My mother continued serving coffee and toast on her own and I helped out when I had time off from my job at a nearby mall.

“That was until she suffered from eye problems about 15 years ago and she asked my husband to give up his job as a construction worker in Singapore to take over the business.

“Eventually, we both gave up our jobs to run the family business.

“My mother, now 80, still insists on riding her bicycle to the shop daily to help with the dishes or simply to watch us work, ” she said.

The mother-of-two added that there was nobody else to hand the business to after this, as her teenage sons were not interested.

“I do not mind as we are taking it day by day as long as we can still serve our customers.

“We really appreciate our regular customers who have become our good friends, so much so that we trust them to make their own payment and get their own change.

“Some of them also supplied us with wood scraps from their own plantation when they found out that we had difficulty getting the material.

“They even declined taking payment and only asked for a cup of coffee in exchange.

“We are touched by their gesture and hope to continue serving aromatic coffee and delicious toast to customers with our wood-burning stove, ” she said, adding that the coffeeshop was open from 7am to 5.30pm daily.

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