The story of Coffee and Property

Long time ago, coffee in Malaysia meant that you go to the restaurant and drink it while you eat your hawker stall food. If you want to chit-chat with friends, mamak is your best option. There’s even a song by A Niu, a local Malaysian singer on why mamak stalls are the best. Today, some of us may feel this is no longer the only option. There are bubble tea, yogurt drink and the trendy craze, cafes serving lattes. What has cafes got to do with property? Actually there are lots of connection.

Cafes with a twist. In Ipoh, many older buildings, even dilapidated ones were ‘rescued’ and ‘transformed’ into cafes. These cafes mix and match modernity and the days of yesterday while serving you a cup of freshly brewed latte. The latte may have cost you RM7.50 per cup (300% more than your usual Old Town White coffee) but the property which the cafe now occupies may now be worth RM1 Million instead of it’s RM300,000 price when it was an eye-sore. This has not happened only in Ipoh but also in Penang as well though due to the sudden rise in the price of the old properties, I can safely conclude that the cafe scene in Ipoh will see more action compared to Penang.

Acceptance without any question, of the ‘new’ price of coffee. For the generation still stuck in the kopi-o times and prices of yesterday, none would ever accept a new condo for RM1,000 psf. Definitely not a SOHO of 350sf and a price tag of RM400,000. However, for the generation who has embraced and accepted the fact that coffee is now a lifestyle and not just a drink, they have also accepted that a small unit which is tastefully decorated and with good facilities is worth the RM400,000 that is being bandied about by the developer.

Coffee beans, coffee grinder and coffee machine and the luxurious landed property.  Every morning, my friend grinds his 100% Arabica beans with his European made grinder before using his Japanese made machine to brew it to perfection; at just below 90 degree Celcius. The total price for this luxury gives you an idea why he has no issue with paying RM1.6 million for a landed property. It is absolutely normal and acceptable because in his mind, times have changed. With technology advancement comes jobs which pays much higher and thus the mindset that a cup of coffee is no longer just a cup of coffee but is also an enjoyment. How do you price an enjoyment?

I still love Kopi-O, especially one made by the old uncles who has been doing it for many years. However, if I am going out with some friends and we would like to have a coffee chat session, it would definitely not be at a sweltering hot restaurant with an oily floor. Most probably it would be a proper coffee place with the barista greeting you while asking you to upgrade your size. The bill? RM14.50 for Asian Dolce Latte. Is the price reasonable? I think so and I can accept the fact too, that condos with an amazing view and a prime shopping centre just within walking distance away to be worth much more today. Has coffee culture affected the price increase for properties? You decide. This is coffee and property’s story.

written on 26 feb 2014

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