Penang – The Mugshot Café

Penang – The Mugshot Café

A coffee and bakery haven in the heart of Chulia Street –

Traveling is an art, a passion, a commitment and an enjoyment. Yet, traveling is tiring at times, and travelers need their moments of peace and familiarity that a few places provide while ‘on the road’.

One of these places has to be The Mugshot Café & Rainforest Bakery. The brainchild of friendly old-time mates Tristan and Jesse, this is the place to come to when craving proper coffee and bakery products.

Located in an old traditional heritage Chinese shop-house in the heart of Unesco endorsed Penang’s Georgetown, the Mugshot features an artistic deco with giant blackboards on walls where menu items are chalked up, tables, chairs and the bar are made from recycled pallet wood, and food is cooked in an open kitchen and sports a black wood-fire oven.

You may be surprised to hear that the main products at The Mugshot Café are bagels – that’s right! A popular bread option in some European countries, bagels were little known in Penang but are quickly hitting the local population and travelers alike. Round-shaped and with a hole in the middle, bagels are baked, topped with poppy seeds, heated up in the wood-fire oven until brown and crisp, and filled with a variety of creamy cheese, salmon, eggs or meat. I tried the one with corned beef with rocket and discovered a flavor long forgotten by my taste buds. Yummy! The one filled with turkey and cranberries is also a popular choice.

Aside from the signature bagels, home-made thick and creamy yogurts are served in glass jars with a choice of delicious topping like fruits, syrups and nuts, a complete meal in themselves. Croissants, muffins, brownies and more products from the bakery complete the excellent choice of food in the menu.

Last but not least, the range of coffees is extensive, and their taste is so proper thanks to the owner’s choice of great, locally-roasted coffee beans from a reputable producer. The funky music playing by the café’s loudspeakers completes the job and makes the place so popular that you often have to wait for a table!

So what’s the story behind The Mugshot Café? Tristan and Jesse spare a few minutes to tell us of their years in Europe, of Jesse’s quest to find the perfect bakery there, of his dedication during the time spent working at an extremely popular London organic bakery and of his subsequent search for products variations in Paris and parts of Italy; and also of Tristan passion for coffee and his path to become a proper ‘barista’. They surely returned to their hometown Penang with plenty of skills and ideas that eventually converged in the opening, 4 months ago, of this great eatery.

We congratulated Jesse and Tristan and sat on the outdoor seating area, sipping a strong coffee and watching the bustling Chulia Street scene; The Mugshot Café is indeed one of these ‘on the road’ treats that we so strongly need at times. Thumbs up!

The Mugshot Café – 302 Chulia Street, 10200 Penang, Malaysia

Tel:012 4056276 – Facebook: The Mugshot Cafe – Business Hours:9am – 9pm

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About the author

Thomas has a university background in the UK and in Latin America, with studies in Languages and Humanities, Culture, Literature and Economics. He started his Asian experience as a publisher in Krabi in 2005. Thomas has been editing local newspapers and magazines in England, Spain and Thailand for more than fifteen years. He is currently working on several projects in Thailand and abroad. Apart from Thailand, Thomas has lived in Italy, England, Venezuela, Cuba, Spain and Bali. He spends most of his time in Asia. During the years Thomas has developed a great understanding of several Asian cultures and people. He is also working freelance, writing short travel stories and articles for travel magazines. Follow Thomas on

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