Inhabiting the ground floor of an old building at the heart of Kuala Belait, the charming homegrown cafe Beanery & Co brings life to the once sleepy oil district.
Since opening four years ago in June, the cafe has become a centerpiece of the town’s growing cafe scene, cementing itself as a favourite among the local lunch crowds.
Hidden on the quiet road of Bunga Rambai, the cafe is easy to spot by its vibrant exterior; a brilliant emerald green that juxtaposes with the faded peach hue of the historic architecture that surrounds it.
Perched comfortably between a laundry shop and a Nepalese restaurant, the cafe has made a name for itself with its warm, wholesome ambience.
Combined with a menu that boasts a vast array of Asian-western fusion dishes, every visitor can’t help but feel the love that has been put into this place.
When Nerissa Yapp and her family opened Beanery & Co in 2016, their original plan was to open up a small coffee shop.
“It started out with a simple idea of just coffee, cakes and sandwiches,” explained the manager of Beanery & Co, Nerissa.
However, with continuous support from loyal customers, years later the plan evolved.
The cafe is now a well-loved event hub where customers can celebrate everything from birthdays to corporate anniversaries, with the Yapp family eventually expanding their offerings to include hearty yet healthy breakfast foods and dinners.
“During the first year, we tried to use the space to prepare the food but the space was too small,” continued Nerissa adding that with the growing demand for a more diverse food menu, the cafe hired an in-house chef and bakers.
“We started off with four employees and outsourced most of our cakes. Today, the cafe has a full team of 15 people working between the kitchen and dining area,” she added.
“A bigger kitchen has allowed us to expand our menu; featuring our now classics such as the salmon quiche and Shepard’s pie, as well as an ever-changing assortment of dishes, many of which utilizes seasonal ingredients from the family business, MC Maju Cold Storage,” she said.
Although new to the food business, the 27-year-old has grown with the business, learning and trying out new things along the way.
Growing up in Kuala Belait, Nerissa spoke of how she would hang out with friends at Marilyn Cafe before commercial coffee shops started opening up in the area.
“There were very little cafe hotspots. So, it was always in the back of my mind to start opening my own cafe in my hometown,” she said.
Now with Beanery & Co hitting the four-year mark, Nerissa is hands-on more than ever, checking on the cafe regularly to ensure that operations run smoothly.
You can find Nerissa spending most of her days at the cafe, either taking photos of new food items for their social media account or bustling about in the kitchen.
She noted how her loyal customers became a key aspect to the business’s longevity, building up the audience through catering and party planning, part of Beanery & Co’s bread and butter
Beanery & Co’s journey however had its challenges, including almost selling off the cafe because it was not making money, but the family soon learned that building a business takes time and patience.
Although the area still maintains its distinctive charm and character of the aging oil town, having the cafe built within an old building, maintenance is a constant battle.
Like with most businesses, COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the business.
Just over a few months ago, the 30-seater cafe was at full capacity with customers. Now, they can only allow a minimum of nine customers.
“Of course, this milestone is bittersweet, but its always better to focus on the good and to look ahead into the future because, despite the situation, the cafe is getting back on its feet, receiving steady business”.
Within the Beanery
Upon stepping into the establishment you will feel right at home at the eclectic design of its interior.
With deep emerald greens, mixed in with warm shades, and the array of random knick-knacks adorning its walls, there’s a pleasant ambience that just fills the air.
What first catches the eye is the expansive shelf proudly displaying quirky and hand-picked decorative and colourful products of jams and sauces; an Insta delight.
Although small, comfort is paramount at the cafe. The dining space accommodates up to 30 customers, featuring cosy seating areas, with its sharing-tables making for a convenient workspace or for family dinners.
For the most part, the concept behind the interior design was inspired by Nerissa’s University years in the United Kingdom, during which she fell in love with the city’s love for quality coffee and its vibrant cafe culture.
Beanery & Co prides itself on its healthy and flavourful menu, nurturing each dish with love.
Nerissa had been the creative mind behind the many dishes in recent years, inspired by her favourite western and Arabic cuisines.
The Mini Turkey Sliders is easily one of the best dishes, with its succulent turkey patty that melts in the mouth.
The savoury turkey pairs well with the soft and fluffy buttered bun.
Other popular dishes include their Beef Curry Katsu; a real crowd-pleaser.
Drenched in delicious curry sauce and served with a generous serving of brown rice, the dish features an irresistible crispy batter, boasting a fantastic array of flavours.
Treat yourself to their signature scrumptious Fish & Chips, fried in light, crunchy golden batter with wonderfully crispy chips and homemade tartare sauce. A sure favourite among Beanery go-ers.
If you have space for desserts, opt for their Oreo Milkshake.
One of their bestsellers, the decadent beverage is topped with sprinkles and the classic ice gem biscuits; a sinful shake is equally a visual as well as a culinary delight.
Beanery & Co cakes are also known to tempt your taste buds with their wide range of home-baked goodies from cookie dough cakes, yam fruit cakes, snicker cakes, and many more.
The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN