[编辑 Editor 吕大人 英译 Translator 刘大人 摄影 Photographer 黄大人]
这地点，不在众人皆知的城中，也不在话题下的美食聚点，线上媒体的存在倒也将许多有缘人牵线至此。城中的咖啡馆何其多，但能同时亲掌自家咖啡与蛋糕滋味者，屈指可数。从2016年4月实践梦想那天开始，经网传、口耳相传至今的滋味，近乎零负评。一如既往，若单凭一面之词，对于尚未亲自上门体验的店家，想要推荐其实也说不准，因为人与人之间的温度确实需亲自交流才能有共鸣。于是，我们到了，Vanilla Bean – Coffee X Patisserie。
When it comes to café hopping in Johor Bahru, most of us were guilty of only exploring hipster street along Jalan Dhoby, but there are actually several more exciting cafes waiting to be discovered, so long as you are willing to venture further out. Unless you live in the Pasir Gudang or Senibong area, making the trek down to this east side cafe takes serious planning, but boy are we glad we did.
Because it is tucked away in a quiet waterfront residential enclave, it is relatively peaceful on weekdays, making this breezy, relaxed space perfect for catching up with friends, but also a nice place to bring our parents to on a lazy weekend!
慕名而来者，指明点选那在线上红透半边天的松饼，让大人意外的是原来这并非店家一线料理，如今黑马跑出倒是让店家俩至今莞尔不已。创业初期的「意外收获」倒也为 Vanilla Bean 觅得了不少的人气与知心客，大人身边就有不少密探三不五时在此出没吸收松饼精华，有些味道一旦爱上，就难以换画了。
问起两位主人家 Hee Wei 与 Sherry，当初是在什么契机之下决定创业呢？「有一回品尝到 Sherry 为她哥哥烘培的蛋糕，是我自己很喜欢的 Carrot Cake，由于当时也有创业的念头，心想这应该会是与咖啡蛮好的结合。」温文儒雅的 Hee Wei 原为工程师背景出身，未从彼岸回流之前，除了正职外，也身兼流动咖啡师达5年之久，2013年及2015年时更分别荣获新加坡全国咖啡师大赛第三名与第六名。访谈中他曾透露将参加12月所举办的 Malaysia Barista Championship 2017，大人日前从 Malaysia Specialty Coffee Association 专页中获知 Hee Wei 已成功进入了半决赛！(恭喜)
「Hee Wei 其实是我哥哥的好友。」也许有太多人误认他俩是情侣档了吧？同样在彼岸长达7年的 Sherry，从 SHATEC (The Singapore Hotel and Tourism Education Centre) 毕业后决定继续留新精进烘培手艺。「决定开店后，一开始我们就想找一处比较宁静，又带点独特的地方。」选址这儿，若不熟悉此地环境，擦肩而过的可能性可不小。远离传统商圈，藏身此处静享时光，午后喝喝咖啡、品尝蛋糕、赏一景窗外的绿，这样的小日子，恨不得将时针拨得再慢一些。「想要维持这样的氛围」是注重原味的主人家另外一件想要专注的环节，相信知心客必能心领神会。
Specialty coffee shop and patisserie Vanilla Bean is a pretty new face in JB’s luxurious integrated marina, Senibong Cove. This cosy third-wave cafe has a menu that includes Asian-inspired waffles, espresso beverages, artisanal cakes and a splendid selection of all-day brunch items.
Being family friends, Hee Wei and Sherry decided to combine their personal passion for coffee brewing and cake making to come up with Vanilla Bean itself within Senibong Cove. Engineer-turned-entrepreneur Hee Wei is an award-winning barista from the Singapore National Barista Championship in 2013 and 2015 and used to serve coffee out of the “4 walls of a cafe” with his mobile coffee cart, before finally returning to JB to start his new venture. Of course, it took another fateful bite into Sherry’s carrot cake made for her brother pretty much gave him the instant confidence that the pairing of their coffee and cakes would not be simply plain vanilla.
Having graduated from SHATEC in Singapore, Sherry worked in an international hotel and also tried her hands at an online cake ordering service for nearly 7 years before taking the great “crossing the causeway” of faith. We could sense her bubbly and creative personality that is so evident in the decorations of Vanilla Bean itself.
大人选了离户外景致最近一隅的高脚桌就坐。推门而入后与 Hee Wei 亲切地打招呼、点选心中所爱的知音者不少，让咖啡为自个儿待会动身下一处而加油打气；在旁的爷爷奶奶们点了几杯好咖啡，陪伴着彼此的熟悉话语寒暄片刻；在这不算大的长形室内，倒也没有拥挤的感觉，或许是每个人的咖啡生理时钟都不同吧？周日的访客仿佛都有说不出的默契与规律；不过这一法则在周末可使不上了，毕竟小店空间有限，若人潮同时涌现可就得排上一阵子的队伍静候了。
We could sit near the entrance, or move further in for a more intimate setting but we settled for our place by the full glass window overlooking the private estate. The compact but long open space layout lets us enjoy our coffee trip, regardless of the timing of our caffeine cravings, while dining on their selection of homemade pastries and desserts. The interior is also intimately but well-lit and guaranteed to stir some conversations in the air.
PS: It gets a little crowded over the weekend, so it’s best to pop by early or be prepared to join the queue.
精品咖啡 Specialty Coffee
在 Vanilla Bean，咖啡并没有意愿与复杂难懂的词汇交手，一切简化至只以杯子大小与黑白来分辨，Single shot、不加糖、不附茶匙。
问了主人何谓好咖啡，「顺口、好喝、开心。」简单至此的道理，豁然开朗。那 Hee Wei 在挑选豆子时注重些什么呢？「果酸一定要有，否则感受不到咖啡的生命力。」
It seems that coffee gets big reactions from everyone, with or without the caffeine, and people get hot under the collar about their favourite cuppa on how they drink it, and how we should drink it. According to Hee Wei, what makes a great cuppa here is more than just tricks and techniques, but one that can deliver a smooth finish, taste good and still enjoy throughout the day. “Acidity is a positive characteristic, and we’re not talking about the kind that makes our stomach sour but one that delivers many fruity notes or fruit-like flavours,” Hee Wei explained.
White (Espresso + Milk)
「以含奶量多寡来诠释杯子里最终的味道。」牛奶中的天然甜度让咖啡不加糖而自甜。Vanilla Bean 选用了中烘培的豆子，三杯奶泡量一致，但含奶量不同的 White，滋味有何分别？
3oz的 White 牛奶比例最少，微酸，较能尝出咖啡的原味；5oz的则较为均衡，类似Cappucino；含奶量最多的7oz，口感微甜最浓郁。
Coffee and milk is a classic combination. Using fresh whole medium roast coffee beans and carefully control the ratio of milk and espresso, we are in for different shades of White. Choose between 3oz with less milk (like a macchiato), 5oz for a well-balanced taste (cappuccino) or 7oz if you prefer something more creamy (almost like a latte). Anyway, that’s our two beans worth, come try it for yourself!
黑咖啡一般不加奶，Vanilla Bean 所呈献的 Black 系列选项超简约: Espresso 及 Long Black。注视着咖啡面上那层油脂 crema、品一口咖啡里的果酸，这杯口感醇厚的黑咖啡，绝对少不了知音的驻守。
If you feel like going Black without the cream, give their Espresso or Long Black a shot. The presence of crema (foam), part of the visual lure of our espresso, seems to suggest the aromatics, the mouthfeel, the flavour are all in place for a long-lasting aftertaste.
食验味星 (一般为五星满级，偶尔会爆表) / Rating ★★★★★
手冲咖啡 Hand Brew
喝下了 White 与 Black 的大人们用尽了今日的咖啡额度，所以其实这一回并没点选手冲咖啡。能摄得此景乃因访谈中恰好有访客循香而至，到此一解这充满股返璞归真滋味的手冲咖啡瘾。
Having had our fill (and caffeine shots) from our earlier White and Black, we will be back for more of Hee Wei‘s handcrafted and hand brew beverages, which you should not miss if you come with an open mind, and an empty stomach LOL!
当季蛋糕 Handcrafted Home Bakes
Sherry 的蛋糕并不似专营店般种类纷繁，除了周末会追加至多二种口味外 (例如极受欢迎的抹茶 Matcha Azuki 与纯天然无色素的红色龙珠果 Dragon Blossom，需锁定facebook或instagram查询)，一般皆会固定在新鲜出炉现售的四至五种。坚持不添加任何调味色素，同时使用严选当季食材，因此这儿的蛋糕甜点每一至二个月便会随季更换口味，「像今天的草莓蛋糕，便是使用当季韩国草莓。而刚刚提及的 Dragon Blossom 就是使用红色龙珠果、石榴与白酒炖白桃来创造纯天然的色彩与口味。」招牌 Signature Carrot Cake 当然也不缺席。
魔鬼藏在细节里，超上镜的草莓奶油蛋糕 (Strawberry Shortcake: Chantilly Cream, Strawberry and Vanilla Sponge Cake) 何止让人眼前一亮，连味蕾也瞬间绽放。「真的好松软！新鲜的草莓微酸甜，与清香、浓而不腻的奶油蛋糕合体，童叟无欺，好吃！」大人向来就对幼滑不甜腻的奶油有好感，这一回如获至宝。
招牌 Signature Carrot Cake (Cinnamon Based Cake, Chopped Walnuts, Golden Raisins, Grated Carrot and Vanilla Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting) 观其外观即知非常扎实，「带有少许肉桂滋味，内里很湿润绵密，蛋糕体还潜藏核桃提香，难怪越嚼越入味。」
For a sweeter start (or end) to the day, go for their artisanal cakes made in-house on a daily basis. That’s an excellent tactic for keeping customers in suspense so you can look forward to surprising flavours (such as the Matcha Azuki or Dragon Blossom) if you visit them over the weekend.
This dainty number was as close as it gets to our idea of a perfect Strawberry Shortcake. The whipped cream was speckled with “vanilla beans” (at least we thought) and sugared just enough to tantalise, while the strawberries were pleasantly sweet. The soft and pillowy sponge cake checked all the boxes, so the overall dessert combination was the right balance between milky and sweet.
Make no mistake, we are talking about the Western (ang moh) version here, where their wholesome bake has a cinnamon-based sponge that was moist and packed with grated carrots, chopped walnuts, raisins and iced with smooth vanilla-lemon cream cheese frosting. It is in between light and dense, and really the texture that differentiates their Signature Carrot Cake from all the dry carrot cakes out there.
食验味星 (一般为五星满级，偶尔会爆表) / Rating ★★★★★★
蓝莓芝士厚煎热松饼 Blueberry Ricotta Hotcake
为幸福加温！春天气息浓厚的蓝莓芝士厚煎热松饼 (Blueberry Ricotta Hotcake: Ricotta Hotcake, Strawberry, Kiwi, Dragon Fruit, Blueberries, Toasted Nuts, Vanilla Gelato, Freeze Dried Strawberry and Maple Syrup) 淋上枫糖浆后，「温热有余的芝士厚煎热松饼好香！松软扎实的内里搭上清脆丰美的鲜果与果仁，香甜而不腻。微脆的圈围部分甚有口感，快趁热享用吧！」注：现点现做的 Hotcake 需待至少20分钟。
Rumour has it that this is the first cafe in JB offering hotcakes, and this Blueberry Ricotta Hotcake contains colourful fruits such as mixed berries, kiwi and the uniquely tropical dragon fruit, as well as toasted pistachios, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Served with a scoop of ice cream that’s the perfect remedy for the scorching hot weather, and maple syrup for that sweet finish, we could find blueberries hidden between the layers as we slice through the hotcakes. Do allow for 20 minutes of preparation though for your perfect treat made fresh to order.
食验味星 (一般为五星满级，偶尔会爆表) / Rating ★★★★★
伯爵薰衣草松饼 Earl Grey Lavender Waffle
总是以独特口味让许多人慕名而来的 Waffle，绝对是 Sherry 发挥非凡创意的代表性甜点。坊间处处可见的松饼甜点为何在此能征服无数挑剔的味蕾突围而出？「Vanilla Bean 的每一件松饼与甜酱皆是从原材料调配手作，完全没有使用任何加工或合成制品。」细腻稠实的手感之味原出自细节功夫，难怪总能取悦众人味蕾。
这一回大人品尝了主人家研创的伯爵薰衣草松饼 (Earl Grey Lavender Infused Waffle, Earl Grey Gelato, Homemade Lavender Sauce, Toasted Almond Flakes and Dried Lavender Flower) 素雅之姿好有气质「薰衣草的淡香滋味搭配豆香的杏仁恰到好处，入口后的芬芳让大人一试钟情。」食毕后同座又是连番赞叹。
Apart from their award-winning coffee and homemade cakes that have won over the taste buds of many dessert lovers, Sherry is also equally adept at serving up plain or piled-high waffles, whether it’s sweet or savoury, crispy or soft. Nothing beats a freshly baked waffle with ice cream made with the most natural of ingredients without any artificial colourings or preservatives, especially when our choice of Earl Grey Lavender Waffle comes with bergamot tea-infused gelato and toasted almond flakes. Drizzle the lavender sauce and dried flowers for a distinct floral scent and the overall taste elevated by a few notches. While we wouldn’t call this love at first sight, we were definitely smitten at first taste.
食验味星 (一般为五星满级，偶尔会爆表) / Rating ★★★★★★★★
匿在壁灯下的一字一句就是主人为 Vanilla Bean 所下的理念注解。坚持严选新鲜食材，主张无糖、无糖浆，毫无现成的调味，「选用好食材，调味也就无用武之地了。」新山并非一个容易获取原材料的城市，成本常因汇率调升，现实的压力总不能时时反映在最终价格上，坚持固然重要，但如何坚持并保持热忱更为关键，很多事唯有自己亲力亲为才能衡量最纯粹的品质，只因形态可类似，滋味却「瞒不过人们的味蕾。」
谢谢 Hee Wei 与 Sherry。
A genuine vision derived from its simplicity of life, and conceived in the serenity of mind, Vanilla Bean is the perfect spot for catching up with friends, or an unhurried meal with the family over the weekends at Senibong Cove.
Kudos to Hee Wei and Sherry for making this a reality!
Vanilla Bean – Coffee X Patisserie
Address: Blk B, Pangsapuri Pinggiran Air (WATEREDGE Apartment), No.2 Persiaran Senibong, Senibong Cove, 81750 Masai, Johor
Contact: +607-380 4900
Time: 9am-9pm (Sun – Tue, Thu); 11am-7pm (Wed); 9am-10pm (Fri-Sat)
NO PORK, NO LARD
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