Cafes Richard’s history began in 1892 with a warehouse. In 1938, Henri Richard purchased the warehouse from his cousin and started a wine business, supplying fine wines to hotels and cafes in Paris.
By the time his sons Pierre and Andre joined the business, they realised there was a demand for coffee. So they began roasting coffee in 1955, an endeavour which gained so much traction that the Cafes Richard brand is now responsible for 2.4 million cups of coffee a day and is often called the No.1 coffee roaster in France.
For over 125 years, Cafes Richard has resolutely remained in its homeland of France. But recently, the brand took a leap of faith, and spread its wings to Malaysia. Or more specifically, to Genting’s new SkyAvenue mall.
The move is in tandem with Genting Malaysia Berhad’s newly-inked franchise agreement with Cafes Richard to set up the world’s first Cafes Richard retail cafe at Resorts World Genting.
“We were attending one of the leading F&B shows in the world and came across Cafes Richard. Normally, we look, taste and move on. However, their brand was so captivating that our team spent more than an hour absorbing the passionate and professional presentation.
“It was not long thereafter, that we met up with Anne Bellanger in Paris, to explore how we could partner with them to bring a taste of luxurious Paris to Genting,” says Datuk Edward Holloway, senior vice president of hotel operations at Resorts World Genting.
Anne Bellanger, the managing director of Cafes Richard in Paris and the granddaughter of Henri Richard, says opening outside of France is completely foreign to the family-owned business, and she is hopeful it will be a successful foray.
“It is the first time we are opening a Cafes Richards outside France and it is a completely new adventure, so we hope it will be a great success. I think my grandfather could not have imagined this, because it’s a new world – an evolution,” she says.
Cafes Richard is renowned as coffee roasters and the brand has – since 1976 – had a coffee roasting operation in Gennevilliers, which roasts 10,000 tonnes of green beans every year, sourced from plantations in Kenya, Ethiopia, Brazil, Papua New Guinea, India, Colombia, Mexico and Guatemala, among others.
The roasting process is tailored according to the blends and varieties of coffees, with computer-coded recipes that are carefully guarded. Overall, according to Bellanger, the brand imports some 30 single origin coffees and roasts and sells blends and single origins to restaurants, cafes and hotels in Paris and throughout France as well as some other countries.
The coffee that is roasted in France will be delivered to the Genting outlet, and Bellanger says they are careful to ensure the coffee is packaged well and remains intact and in good condition upon arrival.
“Coffee is very fragile so we have to preserve it in hermetic packaging. And we have special paper and a system so the oxygen doesn’t go inside, because coffee has to stay away from oxygen and light, because it is very fragile,” she says, adding that she thinks Genting’s cool climate is better for coffee than the hot, humid preserve of Kuala Lumpur.
Cafes Richard’s brand ambassador Thibault K. Bidi says the roasted coffee beans can last for a few months once packaged but must be used within 48 hours of a package being opened.
To train the staff at Genting to the standards and specifications of Cafes Richard, the brand’s master roaster Michael McCauley (a barista trainer and judge at international barista competitions) personally trained 14 local baristas at the SkyAvenue outlet in the art of making and serving coffee.
Two Genting staff were also sent to Cafes Richard’s training centre, the Academie du Cafe, in Paris, to further their knowledge while K. Bidi has been in Malaysia for the past seven months to ensure that Cafes Richard standard operating procedures are followed to the letter, and the baristas are fully prepared for the task at hand.
In terms of aesthetics, the Malaysian Cafes Richard (which took one year to build) imbibes the spirit of the Parisian Comptoirs Richard (the gourmet retail boutiques of Cafes Richard), with black-and-white mosaic floor tiles, cloth awnings, wicker chairs and pendant lamps all adding an air of French chic.
“The decoration is very French in style and has a very elegant atmosphere. We tried to design it this way, to make it an experience around coffee and tea,” says Bellanger.
So just what’s on the menu at Cafes Richard? The outlet has all sorts of coffees to satiate caffeine lovers, including the Perle Noir, an exclusive Cafes Richard 100% Arabica brewed in a French-style espresso, iconic of the Parisian brasseries. There are also a host of custom-made coffee cocktails and mocktails created exclusively for the Genting outlet by McCauley and Bidi after three months of intense tasting and testing.
Coffee for every taste
You could try coffees made using slow coffee methods like French press, Chemex, syphon and cold drip, which uses a range of coffee beans like Sumatran Orang Utan coffee (whose proceeds partly go to the endangered orang utans in Indonesia), Costa Rica Tarrazu, Ethiopian Moka Yrgacheffe and uber-premium Jamaica Blue Mountain.
The cold drip method takes six hours to make and involves 60g of coffee, balanced against 700ml of cold water infused with different fruits and spices. The extracted coffee drops at a rate of one drop a second, has very little acidity and is best savoured cold.
The syphon method produces a medium body coffee that takes three to four minutes to yield one serve. Then there is the classic French press method, which is great for a morning cup of coffee that is full-bodied and rich.
The Chemex method, meanwhile, produces a light coffee that is great if you’re a newbie to the world of coffee, as there is no bitterness produced by this method.
There are also a range of hot milk beverages, like cappuccino (RM17), cafe mocha (RM20) or the house-made Latte Jardin Fleuri (RM20) which is a hibiscus, rose and elderflower latte that is suffused with floral notes and is warm and soothing from start to finish.
From the mocktail selection, have a go at the Kawa Mint (RM28), which is made from espresso, fresh mint and ice. This refreshing beverage is fresh and full of herbaceous flavours with caffeine undertones.
If you’re after something out of the ordinary, try the Spicy Monkey (RM28) where coffee and tea converge in perfect harmony. The star players here are the cold extracted Sumatran Orang Utan coffee, spiced rooibos and sweet chilli syrup. The drink is punchy and surprisingly spicy, with flavours that meld well together.
For a shot of something alcoholic, try the Coffee In The Clouds (RM38), a cocktail inspired by the classic White Russian. The cocktail combines homemade Cafes Richard coffee liqueur with vodka and a cloud of milk and is surprisingly soothing and smooth, for a drink with a potent shot of vodka in it!
In terms of food, Cafes Richard has some classic French offerings like French onion soup (RM21) as well as interesting-sounding dishes like spaghetti with braised escargot and cream sauce (RM42).
From the dessert options, the assorted macarons (RM25 for three) are not-to-be-missed. These macarons are luscious with a nice bite, and not overly sweet. The French chocolate mousse (RM20) is also divine – silky smooth with intense chocolatey flavours guaranteed to send you straight to chocolate nirvana.
Bellanger says that as this is their maiden outlet outside France, ensuring that consistency and quality are delivered is topmost priority for the brand, and she and other educators will be making frequent visits to Genting to check that things are in order.
“Some experts from Academie Du Cafe will spend a few months here and they will come back several times a year to make sure that the quality is always good. We have to listen to the comments to see if our choices are good for Malaysians – we are here to listen, to learn and to be very, very close to the team and to the consumer,” she says.
Level 1, SkyAvenue Mall
69000 Genting Highlands
Tel: 03-6101 1118
Open daily, 10am to 10pm