St. Presso

Special thanks to St. Presso Coffee and TourDirections Penang for extending this food review invitation.

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Elit Avenue is an upcoming commercial square where a number of new eateries have sprung out lately. One of them is St. Presso Coffee which is my second visit even since it opened.
The store facade is similar to most café businesses, but the important question is how its coffee fares among the hundreds of competitors out there.
Simplicity and elegance are my first impressions of St. Presso. Indoor seating is well-spaced and not too crowded like several Starbucks outlets. There are also outdoor dining space under the canopy, which is not a bad idea after sunset.
A chat with the proprietor quickly reveals that he is very passionate with coffee. As a coffee enthusiast, he has gone through great lengths to source for the most satisfactory beans.
St. Presso takes a detour from the dark roast coffee beans which local Malaysians have been accustomed to. The choice is medium roast, which retains some acidity but is less toasty compared to Ipoh-style local coffee.
There are three major species of the coffee plant: Arabica, Robusta and Liberica. The primary choice of beans at St. Presso is Arabica beans, which in turn is a mixture of three sources: Brazil, Ethiopia and Sumatra. Depending on altitude, weather and soil quality, coffee beans from different regions yield different flavors.
Not all beans are born equal, according to the proprietor. Even the same bean tastes different from day to day. The age of a bean is calculated from the moment it is roasted, not from when it is cultivated. Typically, the bean reaches its zenith around the seventh to tenth day.
Each morning, the coffee grinder has to be fine-tuned to account for bean aging. Factors to consider are powder amount and fineness. If the grinder is not calibrated correctly, the resulting espresso is unpalatable to the fussiest coffee drinks.
St. Presso holds the philosophy that each barista has his or her own style, which regular customers can easily identify. Instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach, St. Presso allows specific customization should customers prefer so. Examples of customization are amount of milk, temperature, number of espresso shots etc.
My personal yardstick for coffee quality is based on Cafe Latte (RM9.50). The hot version, not the cold one, mind you. This cup consists of a single shot of espresso, plus roughly equal volume of steamed milk and a thin layer of milk foam on top.
The Cappuccino (RM9.50) is similar in composition to Cafe Latte, except that the former contains more foam in the expense of steamed milk. I personally prefer Cafe Latte over Cappuccino as I love the natural sweetness of fresh milk.
Some people may prefer chocolate-sweetness in their coffee. The Cafe Mocha (RM10.50) is probably a good choice as it contains cocoa powder.
If you are feeling adventurous, the SP's Mint Mocha (RM10.50) is a good choice too as it contains a hint of mint essence. However, I personally prefer the mint play a more prominent role in the overall taste.
To delight customers with surprises, St. Presso rolls out a seasonal drink each month. As this is Christmas month, it seems appropriate to feature a beverage with yuletide theme.
The Gingerbread Flavoured Latte (RM12.00) is the regular Cafe Latte with cinnamon powder sprinkled on top. Besides the pleasant fragrance, cinnamon also serves to give a sharper taste with each sip.
This Christmas-themed beverage also includes a piece of gingerbread on the side. It's quite an enjoyable way to experience Christmas. Except without the snow, of course.
If coffee nation is not your territory, St. Presso also has several types of tea, chocolate and yogurt drinks to meet your palate. The SP's Mint Chocolate (RM9.50) is one such choice.
Starting early 2015, St. Presso will also introduce "guest blends" from time to time. For instance, Robusta or Liberica beans may be used. Or perhaps a different degree of roast. The possible combinations are simply endless.
Looking for light bites? St. Presso has a handful of sandwiches which are not too shabby either. One of my favorite is Melted Triple Cheese Sandwich (RM14.50). Molten cheese oozes between slices of toasted bread, making a cheese-lover like me cheer with glee! The cheesy texture works well with the toast, which serves to downplay the former's saltiness to a suitable level.
Next is the Grilled Chicken Thigh Sandwich (RM14.50). Using ciabatta bread similar to those at Cafe Auwawa, deboned chicken takes the center stage between slices. Although the deboned thigh meat is grilled with sauces, I feel that the flavor is still somewhat lacking at the center. Perhaps the marinating did not penetrate the meat deep enough.
Moving on to the next sandwich, I find the Sautéed Grey Mushroom Sandwich (RM12.50) rather interesting. In lieu of meat, the mushrooms plays the role of providing savory sensation with each bite.
Another highlight tonight is the Prawn & Egg Sandwich (RM15.50). It has never struck my mind that cooked shrimp and egg gravy complement each other's flavor, especially in the case of a sandwich. This sandwich is certainly highly acclaimed.
Last but not least, the SP's Sandwich Trio (RM16.50) is a combination platter of three of the abovementioned sandwiches. The choice of bread is also different. This assorted sandwich version uses a bun similar to those used in mini-burgers.
Each sandwich includes a serving of salad on the side. The amount of salad dressing is just right.
But should you prefer more vegetables, the Classical Caesar Salad (RM9.50) is a sound choice. Romaine lettuce, boiled eggs and house-prepared croutons are mixed together for a juicy yet crunchy dish. Freshly-grated parmesan cheese is also sprinkled for added appeal.
Confectionery at St. Presso is supplied by a bakery. The proprietor of St. Presso admits that these pastries are just secondary items on the menu; they are only meant to complement a good cup of coffee.
The Nutty Crepe (RM16.00) deserves some attention because it is quite special. This snack is only available during this holiday season.
The Nutty Crepe is made from mixed grains and nuts, including almond chips and sunflower seeds. As this snack is quite filling, it is best enjoyed with a group of friends.
To encourage people to use their own coffee mugs, St. Presso has several plastic and metal tumblers for sale. By using any of these tumblers, customers enjoy RM1.00 off the menu price of hot beverages.
Indeed, St. Presso Coffee offers interesting surprises in the enjoyment of quality coffee. If medium roast is your cup of tea, St. Presso is one place to check out.

Name: St. Presso Coffee
Address: 1-1-50, Elit Avenue, Jalan Mayang Pasir 3, 11950 Bayan Baru, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-611-6577
Business hours: 9:00am-11:00pm
Website: http://www.stpresso.com
Coordinates: 5.32218 N, 100.28277 E
Directions: St. Presso is located at the south side of Elit Avenue in Bayan Baru. Roadside and garage parking are available.

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