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Nestled amidst Batu Caves’ iconic limestone hills and serene temple grounds lies an unexpected culinary gem—Farm Cafe.

This cosy eatery, founded by Dr Manikam Kumarasamy (Manikam) and his son, Poshyanganapathy Manikam (Poshyan), offers more than just a meal; it serves a mission.

A veterinarian’s vision

Dr Manikam, a dedicated veterinarian at the KM Animal Global Hospital, and his son, Poshyan, a veterinary pharmacist and managing director of KM Vet Farm Sdn Bhd, never imagined themselves venturing into the F&B industry.

Their primary focus was always on animal health and welfare, often spending their days educating local farmers about responsible, antibiotic-free farming practices.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the supply chains, leaving many farmers with no choice but to discard high-quality produce like fresh milk, eggs, and poultry.

Witnessing this wastage sparked an idea in Dr Manikam and Poshyan.

Image Credit: Farm Cafe

“During this time, they decided to open a cafe to highlight good quality local produce and local flavours. Dr Manikam, a foodie and food enthusiast who loves cooking, was particularly passionate about this idea,” said the co-founder of Farm Cafe, Dr Gokilavani Sekar Chandran (Vani).

They envisioned a cafe that would not only support these local farmers but also raise awareness about the importance of consuming good quality, locally sourced products.

Thus, Farm Cafe Batu Caves was born in October 2021, embracing a farm-to-table concept that resonates deeply with their values and expertise.

Defining farm-to-table

For Dr Manikam and Poshyan, farm-to-table is more than a trendy buzzword; it’s a commitment to quality and sustainability.

“For us, farm-to-table means the ingredients are freshly made,” Dr Vani said, adding that the cafe sources most of its ingredients from local farms, including their own dairy farm in Batu Arang.

“Of course, there are some ingredients that we have to source from local suppliers, but they are all ethically sourced,” she added.

This ensures that the food served is fresh, antibiotic-free, and hormone-free—principles that are especially important to Poshyan, who is a father of three.

“Knowing what goes into our children’s meals is crucial,” Dr Vani explains.

Image Credit: Farm Cafe

“We want to make sure our family and our customers are consuming food that’s good for them, and that supports our local farmers.”

A culinary celebration of local flavours

Farm Cafe’s menu is a vibrant celebration of Malaysian cuisine, infusing traditional Malay, Indian, and Chinese flavours with a contemporary twist.

One of their standout dishes is the Kulim Mushroom Soup, featuring buah kulim, a rare wild fruit that imparts a distinctive nutty-garlicky flavour.

“We might be the only restaurant in the country using buah kulim in mushroom soup,” Dr Vani told Vulcan Post.

Image Credit: Farm Cafe

Another must-try is the Nasi Beringin Ayam Panggang, where traditional nasi beringin is paired with organic, cage-free roasted chicken.

The Burger Gemprek, made from scratch in their kitchen, and the family-favourite Creamy Carbonara, crafted with milk from their own dairy farm, are also crowd-pleasers.

“We don’t buy processed burger patties,” she highlighted.

Even the drinks they make, whether it’s a frothy cappuccino or a rich hot chocolate, use their farm’s fresh milk, highlighting their commitment to quality and taste.

Image Credit: Farm Cafe

Sustainability at the heart of operations

Beyond the delicious food, Farm Cafe’s all about creating a sustainable ecosystem.

They transport waste from the cafe back to their dairy farm to turn it into fertilisers, completing a cycle that benefits the environment. This practice reflects their broader mission of promoting sustainable farming and supporting the local agricultural community.

When customers step into Farm Cafe, they not only encounter tantalising aromas and a warm atmosphere but also gain an opportunity to learn, too.

“We love educating our customers about where our products come from and why supporting local farms is so important,” Dr Vani shares.

“It’s rewarding to see their excitement when they realise the milk in their coffee comes from our own grass-fed cows.”

Image Credit: Farm Cafe

Challenges & the path ahead

Of course, setting up a cafe during the pandemic was no easy feat.

Staffing and meeting customer expectations have been ongoing challenges, but they’ve also been the source of growth and innovation.

“We noticed that customers like varied menus, so we often have to brainstorm and come up with new menus.”

“But that has been the most fun part of the whole journey as well, sort of experimenting with flavours and taste and our products,” said Dr Vani.

Image Credit: Farm Cafe

She added that Farm Cafe’s greatest achievement is not just in serving great food but in seeing their staff excel in cooking and coffee brewing competitions.

“We regularly train our staff, send them for competitions, and keep them motivated,” Dr Vani said.

With a solid training regimen, Dr Manikam and Poshyan have ambitious plans for Farm Cafe.

In the next seven years, they aim to franchise the cafe, opening at least seven branches. This expansion is not merely about business growth, but about spreading their message of supporting local farmers and promoting high-quality, locally sourced food.

Image Credit: Farm Cafe

“We want people to realise that local products are just as good, if not better, than imported ones,” Dr Vani states.

“Through Farm Cafe, we’re financially and economically supporting our local farming community, and we want to continue doing that on a larger scale.”

As Farm Cafe Batu Caves continues to thrive, it stands as a testament to what can be achieved when passion for food, dedication to sustainability, and a commitment to community come together.

For Dr Manikam and Poshyan, it’s more than just a cafe—it’s a movement to transform the way we think about and consume food, one delicious dish at a time.

  • You can learn more about Farm Cafe here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Farm Cafe

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