By day Mohamad Hazreel Mazlan is an employee at a trading company here and at night, he turns into a barista, operating a coffee joint out of his car boot to earn some extra money.
The enterprising 31-year-old youth, who is from Taman Melawati, Selangor, opened lujayns_coffee in early June this year and his aromatic freshly brewed coffees have succeeded in attracting a steady stream of customers.
He operates his business between 8 pm and midnight at Wangsa Melawati here daily except Sunday.
It was drizzling that night Bernama met him for an interview but he kept his mobile café open and continued taking orders and serving his customers with a smile on his face.
Mohamad Hazreel, who was a part-time e-hailing driver before starting his coffee venture, spent about RM15,000 to buy a coffee maker, espresso machine, coffee grinder and a small generator.
The interior design of his “café” was entirely a DIY (do-it-yourself) affair. The coffee machines and grinder are placed neatly on a wooden pallet inside the boot of the Honda CRV, which is Mohamad Hazreel’s family car.
“Since it’s a family car, I couldn’t fix racks in the boot… I had to choose something that was moveable, that’s why I got the wooden pallet, which is easy for me to put in and take out (of the boot) and to clean up the space as well,” he said, adding that the coffee machines and grinder are placed at his chest level so that he does not have to bend whilst preparing his customers’ orders.
He said the idea of running a mobile café came to him after he came across a coffee entrepreneur who used his car boot as his business platform.
“I used to go café hopping and that was when I happened to meet the owner of Kopi Rumah who sold coffee from his car boot. I then embarked on doing some research and looked for similar businesses operating throughout Malaysia. I also spent a night at a certain location to study how they operated their business out of their car boot,” he said.
Armed with the valuable tips given to him by the owner of Kopi Rumah, coupled with his friends who motivated him to try out the concept, Mohamad Hazreel went on to open his boot café, learning the techniques of making different types of coffees from YouTube videos and reading materials.
His simple makeshift café may lack the comforts and trendy decor of conventional coffee outlets and hipster cafes but it has its own following.
“It’s an individual choice… some people like to patronise cafes while others enjoy sitting here (chairs are provided for customers) and sipping their coffee in an ‘open’ environment like this. Customers can also grab a coffee and go on their way,” he said, adding it just takes him 15 minutes to get his boot ready for business.
While it is easy and practical to operate a café from one’s car boot, it has its challenges too, the primary ones being finding a suitable location and dealing with rainy weather.
“Rain affects my operations but I’m always optimistic and keep looking for ways to ensure it doesn’t disturb my business,” he said.
As his loyal customers would attest, Mohamad Hazreel’s coffees have a unique taste which he creates by combining and grinding two types of coffee beans – one imported from Ethiopia in Africa and the other from Colombia, South America.
“Every month, I roast and grind about 13 to 40 kilogrammes of coffee beans that come from those two countries. By mixing the right quantities of (both types of) coffee beans, you can produce a delicious cup of coffee. It tastes sweet… the sweetness is not from sugar but from the coffee beans,” he said.
The prices of his coffees range from RM7 to RM13 each, with the caramel macchiato and Irish cream coffee being firm favourites with his customers.
Hoping to open a proper café based on his own concept someday, Mohamad Hazreel said youths must be bold and venture into business even though the field is full of ups and downs and challenges.
“When we face difficulties, we have a choice of quitting or carrying on with unwavering determination. Choosing the latter can lead us towards extraordinary achievements,” said the young man, who is saving some of the money earned from his side hustle for his marriage. His future wife Nurul Shazwani Sukarno helps him run his car boot cafe.
Translated by Rema Nambiar
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