Miss Coco café brings vibrant Latin flair to KL through specialty coffee and chocolate

Partners Asmiriam Roa and Gabriela Sandoval work closely with farmers in Colombia to bring in a broad range of bean varieties.

Roa (left) and Sandoval aim to introduce Malaysians to their countries’ strong coffee culture (All photos: Genie Leong) 

Every morning, millions of people all over the world rise from their beds and trudge into the kitchen with one thing on their minds — that gratifying, astringent first sip of coffee. Whether consumed in a latte, Americano, mocha or a plain shot of espresso, a cup of joe has become the cornerstone of our daily routines. Even the whiff of a fresh brew is enough to awaken the senses and gear one up for the day ahead.

It is perhaps no surprise, then, that in recent years, there has been a boom in the global café culture — a social and cultural phenomenon surrounding the coffee industry, its consumer base, and the values, beliefs and practices surrounding the beloved beverage.

Malaysia has been no exception. In Kuala Lumpur alone, the number of new cafés seems to be ever-growing, with several food blogs and social media influencers dedicated solely to reviewing the latest establishments and unearthing hidden gems. That said, the popularity of this kind of content has, perhaps inadvertently, placed much emphasis on aesthetics and being Instagrammable instead of the food, drink and people.

Nestled along Lorong Ceylon in the heart of the city, Miss Coco is a recent opening that aspires to change this ongoing narrative. Founded by partners Asmiriam Roa and Gabriela Sandoval, who hail from Venezeula and Colombia respectively, the establishment opened its doors in January with a primary focus on specialty Colombian coffee, roasted in-house with a Loring S35 (which customers are welcome to observe from behind a glass-paned wall at the back of the space), as well as artisanal chocolate crafted by Alba Chocolatier, Roa’s first F&B venture in KL that produces confections made with Malaysian and Venezuelan cacao.


Buttery cheese-stuffed arepas with golden crusts and gooey insides pair perfectly with a latte

To maintain the shop’s high standards, she and Sandoval work closely with farmers in Colombia to bring in a broad range of bean varieties. Each type, from the exotic Wush Wush to the botanical Geisha, has been selected by the latter herself while visiting the farms, many of which are located in remote and hard-to-reach areas.

“We went to many different coffee shops in KL to research and determine the varieties they had and narrow down what we were interested in carrying,” Sandoval mentions. “We have a little bit of everything — some with a fruity taste, others with floral notes.”

Now, there are plenty of local cafés that offer good coffee, with several boasting Colombian beans. What sets Miss Coco apart is its equally devoted focus on chocolate. The place’s name itself stands for “cocoa and coffee”, says Roa, who notes that her previous experience as a barista revealed how even renowned coffee shops and restaurants used cocoa powder and syrups in their chocolate drinks instead of the real thing.

“When you look into the process of making cocoa powder, you learn that the cacao used is generally not the best quality, and syrups are mostly just sugar. So, it became my personal mission to get more specialty coffee shops into specialty chocolate, because they pair so well. The products have the same values and they grow in the same equatorial belt. Why would you separate two things that naturally go together?”


From traditional caramel to tangy soursop, the chocolates from Alba Chocolatier are a delicious treat

This commitment to high-quality ingredients and unpretentious methods shines in Miss Coco’s menu. Classic, no-frills coffee drinks are meticulously brewed by passionate baristas who are more than happy to tell you all about each bean, its background and flavour profiles. For a more satisfying experience, pairing your beverage with some freshly-made arepas — savoury cornmeal cakes served piping hot with cheese or various proteins in the centre — is a must-do to fully immerse yourself in the café’s Latin ethos.

For a treat, one cannot go wrong with a buttery pain au chocolat containing chunks of semi-sweet chocolate or warm, fluffy waffles garnished with a generous drizzle of the rich melted goodness. Before you leave, have a gander at the glass display case housing neat rows of colourful bonbons with an interesting range of fillings — something is sure to tickle your fancy.

Operating a business in a foreign land comes with its share of challenges.

“I think we face different issues every day,” Sandoval says, noting that shipping in the raw materials and language barriers are two of the biggest. However, these have not deterred the duo from dreaming of a big expansion.

One goal is for Miss Coco to eventually offer services to other small coffee businesses all over the Asean region, spreading the beauty of Colombian coffee along the way.



“There are many independent roasters who cannot afford the import prices because it is very expensive just to bring in a minimal quantity of beans,” Roa explains. “For roasting, we can create custom profiles for people or even help them make their own white label too.”

Good food and drink aside, the best part about Miss Coco is its love for the community that breathes life into the establishment from bean to cup.

“We do our best to pay the farmers more to give them a better existence,” Roa says. As more than just business owners but also professionals in the coffee and chocolate industry themselves, the partners are passionate about supporting the careers of their young baristas, providing them with thorough training and aiding them to participate in competitions.

Their greatest joy, however, comes in seeing a mix of local and foreign customers come through the door each day and mingle at community events held regularly in the café.

“The character of Miss Coco is fictional, but the charisma and passion behind it make people feel welcome,” the pair say.

And what a warm reception it is indeed, both for locals curious about Colombian coffee and cuisine, and Latin travellers looking for a taste of home.


Miss Coco is at Wisma Noble Land, 2 Lorong Changkat, Lorong Ceylon, KL.  Open daily, 8am-8pm. Tel: (011) 6453 9968. 

This article first appeared on May 20, 2024 in The Edge Malaysia.


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