Expat Tales: Kiwi brings coffee culture to Kuala Lumpur

Alun Evans left coffee-culture hot spot Wellington to share his craft in Malaysia.

What inspired your move, and how long have you been there?
StarTimes1I moved to Indonesia in 1998 to help co-operatives grow coffee and started roasting coffee in Jakarta. Five years ago I took Antipodean Coffee to Kuala Lumpur.

What do you do there?
I have brought a bit of Kiwi cafe culture to KL, with four cafes and another two to open later this year. I have three more in Indonesia and hope to open in the Philippines.

What are the greatest advantages to living there?
The warm weather, the food and the location. There are so many countries within three hours' flight. Eating is a national pastime here.

Disadvantages?
None really. It is a reasonably easy place to live. Everyone speaks good English. I speak Bahasa Indonesia and it's close [to Malay], so I get by handling the official part of the business.

How expensive is it compared to New Zealand? How much is a beer?
It is about half the cost of living in New Zealand. An eggs benedict breakfast is about NZ$8, a taxi for 12km around NZ$8 and if you want to go to the doctor it will be around NZ$30. A beer in a pub is about NZ$4.

What do you do in your spare time?
I like to go to the Perhentian Islands in the northeast of Malaysia and go scuba diving and snorkelling. Otherwise there are some great jungle walks right in the centre of KL.

What's the local delicacy and would you recommend eating it?
StarTimes2Durian. Some people describe this fruit as tasting like rotten blue cheese mixed with custard. But I love it. And mangosteen, which is a sweet and sour fruit, a bit like feijoa mixed with guava.

Easiest way to get around?
On my Vespa. Taxis are reasonable and public transport is good, especially the MRT and LRT train systems. The KL Express from the airport to the city is fantastic.

What's the shopping like?
The malls are modern and beautiful. You can get the best of European and US merchandise. Electronics are good and about 20 per cent cheaper than in NZ, but the traditional food and textile markets are out of this world.

Best after-dark activity?
The nightlife is lively, but by the time I am finished for the day I don't see much of it!

Best time of year to visit?
May to August to miss the monsoons.

What are the top three things you recommend for visitors?
The firefly park in Selangor, about an hour out of KL, the Heli-Lounge Bar in KL to watch the sun set behind the Petronas Towers, and a visit to Chinatown markets.

Besides family and friends, what do you miss most about home?
Fish and chips, National Radio's Morning Report, NZ television, the blue skies and snow. Good-quality fresh produce.

How easy is it for you to get back to NZ?
Easy. I hop on a plane in KL and 11 hours later I am in Auckland.

For Kiwis looking to move there, which industries are seeking fresh talent?
Cafe managers. I need lots of Kiwi cafe managers. There are lots of Kiwi hoteliers here too. From what I hear there are also jobs in IT and education.

Note: This article was published by Star Times New Zealand.