Where it all began and how we got to where we are today
The year was 1937, Penang was the go-to entrepôt of the region, with trishaws, hawkers and your occasional bullock cart roaming the bustling streets of Georgetown. Yet in the middle of all that racket, a young boy, no more than 11, arrived on the island desperate to escape the Sino -Japanese war that was ravaging his home island of Hainan. That boy was Choot Ching Koon, and this is his story.
Nothing more than a labourer in a coffee shop, for years Choot kept his head down and grinded away. Eventually he gained the trust of his boss, got promoted to a coffee roaster and finally with the money he saved bought over the retiring man’s factory. It is now 1952, and Koon Kee was born.
For years, Choot would get on the $10 bicycle (that’s still proudly hanging in our factory today) and cycle around the island just to service customers. All this coming after a laborious morning of roasting the coffee himself. He was eventually relieved to have his loving wife come to his aid, which to this day he’ll proudly admit the key to his success.
70 years, numerous expansions and three generations later, we find ourselves here. With the mission to hold steadfast to the traditions and principles established by our founder oh so long ago, all while keeping with the times. While we’ve had a couple of facelifts over the years, trust us when we say the bulk of it remains the same. The distinct woodfire roasted flavour profile that balances the acidity of the coffee with the sweetness of caramelized sugars, all while maintaining a smooth body is exactly why its revered by coffee drinkers throughout the region.
When you’re taking home a pack Koon Kee, you’re not just brewing up a solid cup of coffee, you’re gonna be treated with a glimpse into the heritage of Penang. The warmth of the people, the sound of rolling waves, the aroma of local delights in the air, the endless rows of colonial era streets and all while enjoying the irresistible taste of traditional white coffee. And it’s such intricacies that has kept our humble little island on the map all these years.