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Coffee meets mechanical keyboards at this Penang café built by a husband-and-wife duo

You’ve heard of book cafes, board game cafes, and pet cafes, but have you ever heard of a mechanical keyboard cafe?

If that sounds intriguing to you, you’ll be happy to learn that such a thing does exist. More specifically, it exists in George Town, Penang, and was founded by the couple Joey and Erica.

Tan Joey has been interested in mechanical keyboard customisation since he got his first one in 2014. Erica Teoh, on the other hand, is a self-proclaimed coffee snob who started her journey back in 2011 when she bought her first ASCASO Dream coffee machine.

Having been married for 15 years, the two also share each other’s interests—Joey enjoys his daily lattes, and Erica can be found typing away on her Zoom65 keeb (AKA keyboard).

Co-founder Erica once roasted and cupped 11 to 13 types of single origin coffee at home while exploring the right blends for espresso / Image Credit: Click & Brew

Neither of them had professional experience as baristas or entrepreneurs. But at the end of 2021, they decided it was time for a much-needed break from their careers. So, after 15 years of working in Singapore, the two returned to their hometown and combined their passions with Click & Brew Cafe.

Where beans meet keebs

Described as a mechanical keyboard experience studio and coffee bar, Click & Brew Cafe opened its doors on May 20, 2022. So far, Joey and Erica say many of their customers have gotten to know them through social media platforms, such as Facebook groups about mechanical keyboards.

“Our main goal is to create a keyboard playground where everyone can try out and feel the different keyboards, switches, and keycaps,” the duo explained. “We set up the keyboards and switch testing stations in our studio so our customers can see and feel the actual products before they start buying.”

Customers are also invited to bring their own keyboards to the space if they need help modifying their keyboards. The studio is happy to provide tools to facilitate customisations.

Keyboards available at Click & Brew / Image Credit: Click & Brew

“In the near future, we will be setting up a dedicated keyboard building station that is equipped with the tools for the builders to come in and build and customise their keyboards,” they added.

But of course, it’s not just about the click. Some customers will go for the brew.

“We believe that both the mechanical keyboard hobby and coffee are very closely related,” the co-founders shared. “Someone may like to take their coffee black, while others might prefer it with milk and sugar.”

They continued, “The same goes for the mechanical keyboard hobby. Some may like clicky switches, while others prefer a deep linear sound. There is no wrong or right in this hobby. It is all about each individual preference.”

Other than coffee and tea, the cafe also aims to serve customers cakes and pies. With this, they hope to build a safe and fun space for the community to share their thoughts, opinions, and new ideas on customising mechanical keyboards.

Customisation customers

Other than letting customers try out keyboards, Click & Brew is also organising beginner workshops for patrons to get hands-on with the process of customising a keyboard.

For those who aren’t super well-versed in mechanical keyboards yet, the workshop will provide a basic introduction before moving into basic “modding” methods.

Various switches for testing at Click & Brew Cafe / Image Credit: Click & Brew Cafe

“We’ll end the day with a typing test and a good cup of coffee or tea,” the duo concluded. “Currently, the workshop is priced at RM500 for around two and a half hours.”

Customers can also opt to buy prebuilt keyboards directly from the cafe. The keyboard inclusive of switches and keycaps starts at RM250 (for the standard Royal Kludge RK71) and goes up to RM850 (for the Keychron Q3 QMK custom keyboard knob version).

A quick Google search for mechanical keyboards showed that there are sellers on Shopee and Lazada that are listing similar keyboards for cheaper. With Click & Brew, though, you’re given the opportunity to test out the keyboards before you make a purchase.

The cafe gets most of its keyboards directly from manufacturers. Joey and Erica are looking forward to working with other keyboard brands and creators in the future too.

Entering the future

Click & Brew Cafe is barely a month old at this point. Joey and Erica’s journey as coffee-loving keyboard-enthusing entrepreneurs has just begun.

Mechanical keyboards photographed at famous photo spots in Penang / Image Credit: Click & Brew

“There is really no big challenge yet, but we learn something new through all the big and small challenges especially as both of us are noobs in setting up business in Malaysia,” they shared.

Despite Click & Brew Cafe being their first business venture, they’ve remained involved with every step of the process from brewing coffee, serving tables, and building furniture (I mean, have you spotted the super cute ENTER stools in the featured image above?) to handling the accounting, sourcing, procurement, marketing, and more.

Joey and Erica feel the proudest when they get to introduce customers without much knowledge about mechanical keyboards to the keeb culture.

“Some customers told us that they will never think that they can find a mechanical keyboard café in Penang, and we’ll tell them this is the only one in Malaysia, or possibly the only one in the world.” they proudly added.

In any case, the duo hopes to further foster their unique coffee and keyboard community. They also aim to expand Click & Brew Cafe’s product range, and perhaps even design their own customised keyboard in the near future. Perhaps that will be the key (pun intended) to growing the business.

  • Learn more about Click & Brew Cafe here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Erica Teoh and Tan Joey, co-founders of Click & Brew Cafe

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