Cafe-hopping culture a lifestyle now

ONCE a trend, cafe-hopping is now a culture.Cafe-hopping, essentially visiting more than one cafe in a single outing, has transformed over the last decade into a cultural phenomenon, especially among the younger generation.Chua says cafes are excellent places for Instagram-worthy photos.Chua says cafes are excellent places for Instagram-worthy photos.

What initially emerged as a trend has now become deeply ingrained in many individuals’ lives.

Like most hobbies or interests, different people have different reasons for investing time and money into exploring the various cafes that pop up all over the country.

Aesthetic appreciation

A common view is that the interior design and style of cafes play a significant role in attracting enthusiasts.

For 23-year-old university student Chua Yee Hen, he and his friends often explore cafes with unique or natural designs, spending up to an hour solely taking photographs in cafes.

“Cafes offer us a new kind of entertainment.

ALSO READ: Why speciality coffee costs more than traditional kopi

“It used to be something we did only on weekends, but now it has become more than that.

“We even schedule time for cafe-hopping during our vacations outside the state,” he added. Chua, who hails from Muar, Johor, said cafes were excellent places for Instagram-worthy photos.

Cafe-hopping is not merely about design, as ambience also plays a role.Cafe-hopping is not merely about design, as ambience also plays a role.

Freelance photographer, Becky Woo Ming Qi, 25, shares his perspective.

She finds herself drawn to cafes both for professional assignments and personal pleasure, noting that, “Each cafe has different architectural and interior design styles.”Woo appreciates cafes with good interior design.Woo appreciates cafes with good interior design.

“While mainstream cafes often lean toward rustic industrial, Scandinavian minimalist or contemporary monochromatic themes, I prefer cafes with niche designs such as Japanese vintage or artistic styles experimenting with vibrant colour palettes,” she said.

Woo, who hails from Selama, Perak, is not alone in her appreciation for cafe design.

Many cafe-hoppers, particularly among the Gen Z demographic, seek out cafes solely for their visually appealing designs, especially in the Klang Valley.

In fact, Woo often caters to clients who specifically request cafe settings for their photo–shoots because the interior design of a place would enhance their profiles on social media platforms.

Yet, cafe-hopping is not merely about design, as ambience also plays a role.Yong appreciates speciality coffees.Yong appreciates speciality coffees.

Woo curates her cafe experiences, ranking each cafe according to various criteria, including aesthetics, ambience, food quality and staff service.

“Since I visit cafes weekly, I’ve compiled a list along the way, categorising cafes suitable for family gatherings, friendly meet-ups as well as solo adventures,” she said.

Additionally, Woo actively documents her experiences in each cafe on her social media platforms, guiding her followers to discover the perfect cafes according to their preferences.

Artisanal brews

Some cafe-hoppers prioritise quality coffee over interior design.

For coffee aficionado Yong Kae Wen, 30, cafe-hopping began as a trend among friends seven years ago, but quPhang documents her cafe experiences through food reviews.Phang documents her cafe experiences through food reviews.ickly evolved into a passion.

“Initially driven by the trend, I soon discovered my passion for coffee, turning cafe-hopping into a hobby and now, a habit,” he shared.

For enthusiasts like Yong, cafe-hopping is not just about exploring trendy places.

It is a genuine appreciation for speciality coffee and the craftsmanship of skilled baristas.

“Exploring the unique coffee available at various cafes has become a personal quest for me.

“Whenever a new cafe opens its doors, I make it a point to visit and sample their speciality coffee,” said the technical executive from Kota Kinabalu.

During his exploration of different cafes, Yong also engages with their baristas, discussing coffee beans, brewing techniques and other aspects of coffee culture.

“When I discover a cafe with quality brews and friendly baristas willing to share coffee knowledge, it becomes my go-to place over the weekend,” Yong added.Batrishia says good food always wins over a welcoming atmosphere.Batrishia says good food always wins over a welcoming atmosphere.

It’s all about food

Just as there are coffee aficionados who seek out cafes for quality brews, there are also food enthusiasts who explore the diverse menus at the various cafes.

Food enthusiast Phang May Lin, 27, from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, said she initially ventured into exploring cafes nine years ago as she did not want to miss out on the trend.

However, as the cafe scene burgeoned around the city, her focus shifted towards valuing food quality above all else.

“As long as the cafe offers good food, I don’t mind the look and feel of the place,” she said.

Phang has developed a habit of documenting her cafe experiences through food reviews, which she shares with family and friends.

“While everyone’s taste buds vary, my reviews are still found to be helpful by loved ones when deciding on a place to eat,” she added.

Similarly, Chua said although cafe aesthetics might initially attract him, it was the good food that ultimately converted him into a regular customer.

“I wouldn’t pay for just the aesthetics, but I would pay to have the same delicious food,” he said.

Tan says the cafe environment makes working there enjoyable.Tan says the cafe environment makes working there enjoyable.

Likewise, primary school teacher Batrishia Balqish Muhammad Rashidi, 23, from Kuala Lumpur, looks for cafes with good food.

“In my experience, the best cafes are those that offer excellent food and a welcoming atmosphere, but if I had to choose, good food always wins.

“It’s the flavour that leaves a lasting impression,” she said.Tsutaya Books gives coffee lovers a corner for them to enjoy a cup while reading their favourite book in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur. Many are attracted by the cafe’s minimalist design. — Photos: GLODIE LAI/The Star and courtesy photosTsutaya Books gives coffee lovers a corner for them to enjoy a cup while reading their favourite book in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur. Many are attracted by the cafe’s minimalist design. — Photos: GLODIE LAI/The Star and courtesy photos

Good Blue Men cafe founder Fong Mun Choon, 33, from Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, agreed with Chua and Batrishia.

“Food quality is the primary factor in building a loyal customer base,” said the owner of the cafe located in Section 17, Petaling Jaya.Hobby turned career.

The generation’s passion for cafes extends beyond hobbies too.

For some, it has evolved into a professional pursuit.

Tan Hwee Yen, 20, from Kuala Terengganu, went from cafe-hopper to coffee lover and subsequently embarked on a career as a barista.

Her interest in the local cafe scene led to her recognising the potential of turning a hobby into an opportunity to earn a living.

“Like most of my friends, I started exploring cafes because it was a trend, but I fell in love with the variety of coffee aromas,” she said.

So, when the opportunity to work in a local cafe arose, Tan eagerly accepted the position.

“The cafe’s environment is the primary factor that makes working there enjoyable.

“Cafes are usually air-conditioned with soft music and coffee aroma, creating a relaxing ambience.

“However, being a barista is no walk in the park as we have to undergo months of extensive training that encompasses both theoretical knowledge and practical skills necessary for crafting a good cup of coffee,” she added.

Her employment at a local cafe has not stopped her from continuing her passion of exploring different coffees in cafes around town.

“Cafe-hopping culture is more than just a trend, it’s a meaningful experience of discovering new flavours and forging connections with like-minded individuals,” she said.

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