Khai, as he warmly insists to be called, radiates an aura of humble ambition. Khairullah Anuar, originally hailing from Malaysia, today he calls Singapore his home. Here, within the bustling streets and aromatic cafes, he stands tall as an Academy Trainer and Quality Assurance professional. But every story has its beginnings, and for Khairullah Anuar, it was a single cup of coffee.
Five years ago, with little understanding of the depths of the coffee industry, Khai found himself in the embrace of a passionate barista. An Ethiopian Pour Over danced with flavors he had never known before. The barista’s enthusiasm, knowledge, and the connection he forged with Khai over a mere cup left an indelible mark.
The word ‘connection’ resonates deeply with Khai. It was this very theme he chose to elaborate upon during the National Coffee Competition held in Singapore on September 26, 2023. The audience was treated to a heartfelt story of a man who stepped into the coffee industry with dreams of owning a small coffee shop, but found a love that anchored him.
Khai’s presentation was unlike any other. To capture the judges’ attention and bridge cultural divides, he greeted them in three diverse languages – Khmer, Bahasa, and English. It wasn’t just a gesture; it was a statement. English was a language he learned later in life, a challenge he overcame in Singapore, which coincided with his blossoming love for coffee.
His story with coffee is interwoven with personal passions. The judges were not only offered coffee but also glimpses of Khai’s world. Photography being another love, he engaged the judges with carefully selected images, reflecting the emotions of each coffee type – Espresso, Milk, and Signature.
However, his journey wasn’t always paved with victories. “I remember this virtual workshop for 50 participants,” Khai recalls, the memory etching lines of deep introspection on his face. “I nearly handed in my resignation, not due to unpreparedness, but a lack of self-belief.” But challenges are often the best teachers. That workshop became a turning point, a moment of realization for Khai that he indeed had what it took.
Guidance, especially from mentors like his coffee director, was invaluable. “He believed in me, even when I had doubts about myself,” Khai fondly shares. It’s this unwavering support and mentorship that has seen Khai evolve from a novice to someone who secured 4th place in a national competition.
But for Khai, it isn’t just about personal growth. Khai, with evident pride, speaks of their commitment to the community.
“We’ve partnered with organizations, introduced the youth at risk to coffee, and trained them.”
He considers the opportunity provided to these youths to intern, assess, and decide their future paths in the coffee world among his proudest moments. Despite the strides made, challenges persist. Adapting training content to cater to varied learning abilities remains a hurdle. But Khai’s spirit remains undeterred. Armed with knowledge, a passion for growth, and a desire to connect, he continues to inspire.
In his downtime, you might find Khai deeply engrossed in a book, “The Alchemist” being a personal favorite, or reveling in his love for photography. And if you find yourself wandering the streets of Singapore and wish to hear more of his story firsthand, Khai’s invitation stands open: To the world, success might be an ever-elusive ladder of grand achievements. But for Khairullah Anuar, success is found in the little moments: A well-conducted workshop, a trained youth finding his path, a cup of coffee brewed just right, and a connection made over shared stories and passions. “Visit me at my academy, and let’s chat over coffee.”
And as for the future? Khai’s eyes gleam with determination and a touch of adventure,
“I’ve been inspired to compete again next year. It’s not about the win, but the journey, the connections, and the passion I get to share with the world.”