The Coffee Chemistry: An Interview with The Mad Alchemy

Go behind the coffee chemistry happening in front of our campus – The Mad Alchemy speaks!

For many students morning classes may be a torturing routine. How do you get rid of your Monday blues, you ask? A cuppa will be just the thing and we have none other than The Mad Alchemy for us to grab some quality coffee.

Lee, the ‘mad one’ behind the wheels, runs the stall with his staff. Lee doesn’t have that suntanned skin from nothing – he has experience brewing coffee on wheels on the streets near IMU for five to six months.
“I worked in the telecommunication field but suffered a lot of stress from my job. I vividly remember my days being a workaholic and staying awake for 34 hours straight.”

I vividly remember my days being a workaholic and staying awake for 34 hours straight.

“In time I grew tired of my job. Brewing coffee has always been a longtime hobby of mine and I enjoyed having my own coffee at home. After sometime, I realized it was a shame seeing my coffee powder and milk expire as I couldn’t finish them on my own.”

An idea came to mind – why not start a business? This will not only enable him to get a break from his tedious and dull job, but will also allow him to share his passion for coffee with others.

“Even if you win the rat race, you are still a rat, so why not step out? After all, there’s nothing to lose.”

With that, Lee started out on his wheels, but he faces some difficulties as well. “In Malaysia, the weather conditions are the biggest challenge, especially during the rainy seasons. Our opening hours depend on the weather, and lugging an 80kg electric generator is definitely a problem.” He laughs and jokes that this is how he works on his muscles. “The outdoor conditions also hasten the coffee oxidation and we must test our coffee powder every couple of hours so I drink approximately 9-10 espresso shots every day!”

His turning point came when the Student Representative Council (SRC) of IMU invited Lee onto campus. Lee is glad for the consistent supply of electricity and is relieved that business is becoming more stable.

The turning point come in when the Student Representative Council of IMU invite Lee into their campus, aside the consistent supply of electricity,Lee claimed that business is becoming more stable.”We get regular customers nowadays. We know what they want without asking!”

So why the name ‘The Mad Alchemy’?



In Lee’s words, “Alchemy is related to chemistry, and I think brewing is similar to carrying out a perfect chemistry experiment. The ‘mad’ is a nod to myself as a ‘mad guy’, who took a huge risk and just set up this stall. When I recall the old times on the wheels, it was really tough and I don’t know how I did it.”

As he is a coffee lover, I asked him about his thoughts on a good cup of coffee. “For me, the taste comes second to what is truly important – the experience. It’s about your barista and the companionship between the barista and the customer. Coffee is about sharing – about spending time with someone whose company you enjoy.”

Coffee is about sharing – about spending time with someone whose company you enjoy.

When asked for advice, Lee’s words truly inspired me. “If you are willing to take the first step, the second step isn’t as hard as you think. Think about your worst case scenario, it is not as bad as you would imagine. So why not step out and try?”


Winnie Yew (BP114)

I want to be lost and found.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *