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A Visit to the Birthplace of Kopi Tenom

Written By: jipp - May• 21•18

If you have been following my twitter you should have known by now how a big fan of Kopi Tenom (Tenom Coffee) I am. I mean, I’ve always been a coffee guy and I spend quite a significant chunk of my hard-earned money over coffee. But then Kopi Tenom is always high on the list of coffee that I really really fancy. I wouldn’t say it is the best coffee in the world (although I keep saying it is) but it does taste really really good to me. Perhaps, it has something to do with the fact that I grew up drinking this very coffee. The taste and aroma are always so nostalgic to me.

So while taking a lil break from campaigning for the impending 14th General Election of Malaysia, I drove over to Tenom amidst banners, posters, flags and what-nots. Just so that the trip wouldn’t feel lonely, I took my mom and her neighbor friend with me. Besides, going on a road trip with mom is always one of my favorite things to do.

Driving from the town of Keningau, we arrived in Tenom 40 minutes later. Tenom is a small town where everything is within walking distance. We first went to the historic Tenom Coffee bungalow where Kopi Tenom was first retailed from. I read from somewhere that the bungalow was turned into a little museum for Kopi Tenom but it is now closed which is quite a disappointment to me.

Just behind it is a café that serves coffee and adjoining to it is a small office which I was told offers a tour to the coffee plantation (If I understood it correctly).  The café looks quiet fancy, probably on par with Starbucks and the likes but of course we didn’t come to all the way to Tenom for a Starbuck. LOL.

Then I remember there was a place that I saw on pictures posted by my friends on facebook. After asking around we drove over to a place called Kopi Tenom Valley, which is probably the latest attraction in Tenom. We were welcome by the iconic giant cups at the entrance of what appears to be a beautiful café. On top of the stairs is the entrance to the air-conditioned part of the café.

Pushing our way in, I couldn’t help but admiring all the beautiful quotes that they plastered all over the walls. I noticed how most of these quotes are related to coffee. Some of them are so witty and funny but very much practical to life.

Inside the café is a small shop at the corner where different coffee packets are sold. Some of them are very familiar while some I have never seen before. I asked my mom and her friend to pick a packet of their choice and offered to pay for them. It took them so long to decide which to pick so I decided to take a look around the café.

Outside of the air-conditioned room is an open-air extension to the café that overlooks the main road. On the other side of the road is the Padang Bandaran, which is like the epicenter of activities in the town of Tenom.

Having done with taking a tour around, I asked mom and her friend to join me at the table to have some coffee. I ordered a piece of cheese cake to come with my cup of Latte. That was a perfect wrap-up to such a memorable road trip.

Kopi Tenom was very much part of my family’s staple food when I was a kid and I remember how we’d pour Kopi Tenom into a bowl of rice for breakfast. Then there’d be a coffee grinding machine at the weekly market (which we call Tamu in Sabah) and I remember how the sweet aroma was all over the place.

Kopi Tenom has come a long way since it was first distributed and sold decades ago. I remember how the packaging was so simple – just a plain plastic wrapper with a red text of ‘Kopi Tenom’ printed across it – a far cry from how it is packaged nowadays. I used to bring them in from Sabah but thanks God they are now available at many major supermarkets in and around KL.

One thing for sure is that – Kopi Tenom will always be the best coffee in the world to me. There I said it again. Heh.

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