Freelance photographer serves an aromatic cup of specialty pour over, on a revamped bicycle, during the pandemic

SEASONED photographer John Ong often went the extra mile to take a perfect shot.

Now the veteran, who has 26 years of experience in the profession, travels around on his vintage bicycle serving up the perfect cup of coffee.

John’s switch of vocation was prompted, as for many others, by the ongoing lockdowns.

The self-employed lensman used to get two to three assignments in a week or at least, once weekly.

When the movement control order (MCO) was announced in 2020, many companies stopped organising corporate events, product launches, seminars and programmes.

This left many freelance photographers without a steady stream of income.

After the MCO was lifted, around May 2020, the handful of jobs that came John’s way offered a sum less than 60% of his usual fee.

Things got tougher as MCO was soon implemented again. John came up with the bright idea to convert his vintage postman bicycle imported from Japan to a ‘pop-up’ mobile cafe and sell artisan coffee for just RM10 per cup.

“I sell freshly brewed handcrafted coffee, on the spot. It is not the same coffee you would get from a Hainanese kopitiam or any commercial coffee franchise companies,” explained John.

He serves signature coffee, ‘KapiWhite’ (also known as Bulletproof), perfect for people with Lactose intolerance, apart from black coffee.

In fact, John uses only premium grade coffee beans imported from South American countries like Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Nicaragua, Columbia, South Africa, and Ethiopia for his freshly made coffee.

Apart from indulging in coffee tasting, John has gained vast knowledge over the years about various coffee beans, taste profiles, different types of roasts, as well as learning brewing techniques to achieve the preferred taste.

Thus, John measures every cup of the beverage with the precise amount of ground coffee, level of water, and water temperature to create flavourful drinks.

He is best known for his “pour over” coffee (hand-poured through a filter).

The self-taught barista reveals that he had already polished his coffee craft before the pandemic at Genting Paras.

The avid cyclist – who served as a reserve cyclist in Sukma Games 1994 – used to go to Paras with his own coffee equipment to brew the drink, especially on weekdays.

“I would brew coffee and enjoy the fresh drink in a peaceful environment (on top of the mountain),” said the coffee lover, adding that the hot beverage was ideal for the cool climate.

“One day, my friend suggested making coffee and serving it to other cyclists,” said John. Later, John served the coffee to cyclists on weekends, at Genting Paras for fun, just before the pandemic.

Hence, John’s handcrafted coffee was born. His coffee became so popular that many coffee lovers would turn up just to taste the aromatic specialty pour over from ‘KapiHappys’ mobile, wherever he had parked his mobile cafe.

According to John, ‘Kapi’ means coffee as per Taiwanese pronunciation.

He stands by his motto: “After drinking freshly brewed, handcrafted Kapi and you will be very happy.”

Coffee addicts would agree!