Do you think of Sabah Coffee when Malaysia is brought up?
When Malaysia is brought up by the average tourist, the first thing that is said is “KL!”. If pushed further, the next city mentioned is “Kota Kinabalu”. The western population seems to think that Malaysia is all about KL, Kuala Lumpur and KL. What is going on in Sabah, the sunny side of Malaysia? Big deal I hear you all say? Wrong! The sleepy, laid back side of Malaysia is bursting with culture and is completely different from KL. We are talking about the 4 states in the northern region of Borneo. Sabah, Sarawak, Indonesia and Brunei.
The capital of Sabah is Kota Kinabalu which is located on the island of Borneo, it is well known for being the second largest city in Malaysia. As Sabah is the second largest state in Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu is the commercial center as well as the legislative capital.
Kota Kinabalu is a beautiful place, unfortunately, most of the tourists that come here are specifically interested in climbing Mount Kinabalu or the aquatic life that can be found in the area. There is an abundance of marine life with swimming with the dolphins being the top activity. I have heard that it is an incredible experience if you are a thrill seeker.
Sabah is an island state in Malaysia with coffee growing regions. With a population of around 2.6 million and a population of 1.7 million tourists in Sabah, it is safe to say coffee is a big deal and there is a lot of coffee in Sabah.
Sabah is a little different to the rest of the country. Sabah is made up of several cities, towns and districts. The two main cities in Sabah are Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan. Sabah is made up of about 1500 islands in total. If you picture a map of Sabah, you see that it is more island than the mainland. This means that people are more independent and they tend to travel by foot or by motorbike.
Sabah is made up of a number of tribes. The largest tribe in Sabah is the Kadazan Dusun (which is considered to be the largest race in the Melanau region). These tribes live at the northern part of Sabah where the tribes are more spread out. The largest tribe in Sabah by population is the Bajau, which live in Sandakan and further down towards Kudat.
Sabah is a place that has grown tourism in the last few years. It is a place where you can swim in the warm blue ocean or hike to a waterfall, all while being away from the more crowded areas.
So, how should a tourist in Sabah order their coffee?
First it’s important to understand Sabah coffee. Sabah is sometimes called the little brother of Indonesia and Indonesian coffee. Truth is, Malaysian coffee is roughly 10% Indonesian coffee. Malaysian coffee, however, is grown 5-15 degrees higher in the mountains. The local tribes tend to grow their own coffee.
Sabah coffee has a stronger flavor compared to Indonesian coffee. This is a fault of the coffee itself. The soil in Sabah is more acidic whereas Indonesian soil is alkaline. This means that when you roast coffee beans, you do not end up with the smooth flavor of Indonesian coffee. Instead, you end up with the delicious strong flavor of Sabah coffee.
When you first come to Sabah you will come across the coffee shops around town. These coffee shops are all run by the locals. They usually aren’t the biggest or the most popular in town but they are known to be better in quality and cheaper. It is a good place to start, if you find something good then we can move on!
Sabah coffee shops tend to serve two types of coffee. The Sabah Coffee and Sabah Special Coffee. The first cup is usually very strong and flavorful, the second cup is usually weaker and more consistent. Both types of coffee are great but the second one is usually less strong, which will suit most tourists.
Each coffee shop makes their own coffee, so it is important that you ask them how they make it. Sabah coffee is different to Indonesian coffee. Malaysian coffee is grown at different locations in Sabah. Some people even grow their own coffee beans. They use rain water and their own coffee plants, meaning that their coffee is fresh. It is far better and will usually taste better than what you can get in Sabah.
Coffee is big business in Sabah and if you are a coffee lover then Sabah is a place you must visit.
If you would like to explore Sabah from a different perspective then you can take part in a tour. The areas in which the coffee beans are grown are relatively untouched by tourism so this tour allows you to experience what life is like in Sabah for locals living there.
Sabah Coffee Tour provides a unique experience for those who love coffee. The areas in which coffee beans are grown are incredibly scenic but also incredibly rugged. Being such a mountainous area, it is home to many different animals.
As the home of the Hornbills of Borneo, Sabah is teeming with wildlife. It is truly amazing. As you can see from the picture above, our guide spotted this creature. The Hornbill is known as a bird of prey and is incredibly large, sometimes getting as tall as 2 meters. This particular one was 1.5 meters tall and weighed around 19kg’s!
After the fantastic nature tour, we were treated to a wonderful lunch. Local food is incredibly cheap in Malaysia. This dish is Chicken with chillis. The guide was going on and on about how good it was. I can definitely see why. The chicken was succulent and tender, the chillis gave a nice kick without being overpowering and the rice was comforting. I am definitely going back here one day to try it.
After lunch, the tour took us to Ipil village. The population of Ipil is about 500 people and most of them have coffee plantations. It is an excellent area to explore.
After visiting the coffee plantation, we were introduced to our local guide. On the way to the village, our tour guide stopped to show us how this river is generally used for washing clothes.
In the village, we were lucky enough to see the amazing harmonies from the villagers! The performance was incredible. Unfortunately, they missed a few keys and the guitarist dropped his pick!
Just before dinner, we got to listen to another of the traditional dances. These dances have been used as entertainment for centuries. A truly incredible experience.
The evening was spent eating dinner.
Our guide took us back to his house for the night, to ensure we got a good nights sleep in preparation for the next day.
Our guide woke us up at around 5.30 to prepare for another fantastic day! The guide woke us up at 5.30 and it was a cold, rainy start to the day. We left his house around 6.30 and drove to the entrance of the coffee plantation.
When we first started the tour, our guide told us that coffee beans need approximately 5 years to grow from seed to ripe. We were shown the processing stations that are implemented at the plantation. The beans grow around the trees until they start to flower.
And that is the end of our tour. You can check out more coffee culture in our list of coffee shop, cafes and more information in our blog.