PETALING JAYA: Apart from the occasional clinking of cutlery on plates and the hiss of the coffee machine at the back, it’s pretty silent inside Coffee Sprex.
The busy café chatter is unusually soft here and the servers work silently, signing to each other and quick on their feet.
The white wall on the right as you walk in is decorated with colourful hand-folded origami stars surrounding the message “DEAF INSPIRES”, making sense of the quiet – the staff of Coffee Sprex are deaf.
In one corner, a server is signing to his somewhat perplexed colleague about an order that just came in.
“His name is Steven and he’s new. It’s his first day today. He’s only 18 and he comes from SMK Sultan Abdul Samad,” says Coffee Sprex’s manager Bridget Chang.
She has worked with the deaf for many years and communicates expertly with the café staff in sign language.
“I was a trainer in IT and wanted to find a way to give back to the community. I was approached to train eight deaf people, in fact, one of them is our baker now. To date, I have trained about 40 deaf people.”
If you’re new to Café Sprex, putting in an order takes some getting used to. But do not fret – on each table is an instruction sheet telling you exactly what to do.
Start off by using your handphone to scan the QR code for the menu, then place your orders via the online order form. A waiter will bring the order confirmation sheet to you shortly.
While waiting for your food, why not try Coffee Sprex’ signature drink, the Espresso Bomb. And, yes, it is as cool as it sounds – a tall chilled glass of Coke with a shot of espresso on the side.
To drink this right, drop the glass of espresso right into the Coke, yes, the entire glass, and watch the magic of chemistry take place as a huge bubbling, sizzling froth rising to the top. But don’t take a gulp just yet. Savour a spoonful of the froth first.
If you like coffee and Coke, there’s no reason why you won’t fall head over heels in love with the Espresso Bomb.
Now it’s time to tuck into some good old-fashioned Roast Chicken. This is comfort food at its best. The tender-roasted meat is perfected complemented with a generous side of roasted pumpkin, carrot, broccoli, onions and an herb jus.
Chang tells FMT that the XL Pepper Cream Chicken is also one of the crowd favourites. It is named XL for good reason too – the deep-fried chicken breast is enough to feed two, provided both have small appetites.
The highlight of this dish is the red bell pepper cream that is so popular with customers, some even ask for it as a dip with their hash browns at teatime.
If a little bit of spice is the only way to keep you satisfied, order the Thai Laksa.
It contains all the flavours that make Asian cuisine possibly the best on the planet – sweet, sour, spicy, savoury – all playing havoc with your taste buds but in a good way.
With the refreshing notes of mint leaf, onions and bunga kantan, this dish is a real standout.
For a true cheat-day dish, indulge in the non-halal Bacon Fried Rice. Jaws will drop and eyes will pop when it is brought to the table.
The mountain of buttery fried rice is topped with three generous strips of bacon and a spoonful will reveal even more chopped bacon bits within.
Pasta lovers will fall in-love with the Salmon Aglio Olio. The pasta is cooked al dente and the salmon done just right – flaky and flavourful. A generous portion of cherry tomatoes and good quality olive oil make this simple dish rather unforgettable.
A word to the wise – always leave room for dessert when at Coffee Sprex. Apple, the café’s cheerful baker, has three sweet treats – custard puffs, fruit tarts and kaya roll to help end the meal on a sweet note.
The custard puffs and fruit tarts are dainty enough to pop whole into your mouth while the kaya roll is essentially a dense and moist Japanese Hokkaido sheet cake slathered in homemade kaya and rolled expertly into a wheel.
Being a coffee connoisseur, Chang shows FMT her modest collection of coffees from Vietnam and Italy, as well as her Mini Express coffee maker, on which she sometimes brews a cuppa to share with customers at the café.
And if you don’t know how to say “Thank you”, Chang is only too happy to teach you how to sign it.
Coffee Sprex (Non-halal)
5 Jalan SS25/23
47301 Petaling Jaya
9am-5pm (closed on Mondays)