The Grumpy Outpost

How we turned our office pantry into an outpost of sustainable possiblities.

Before the birth of COMMUNICATE, our Managing Director, Alex Iskandar Liew had a brief stint in running a popular coffee shop known as The Grumpy Cyclist in the bustling suburb of Taman Tun Dr Ismail. The café’s unique concept, which combined both Alex’s love for good coffee and cyling, as well as a communal hub for people to hang out, quickly became the talk of the town when doors were opened.

The Brief

Having moved out of the head office at PEMANDU Associates and into our own space, we saw an opportunity to turn our office pantry into a café outpost that would pay homage to The Grumpy Cyclist, which has since retired after a good 5-year run.

Despite being an unconventional project, we approached the challenge head-on by leveraging on some of our team members’ prior experience as baristas to design a concept, logo signage, and overall interior of the Outpost from scratch.

And with COMMUNICATE’s progressive mission to go green, it became our priority to implement sustainability efforts starting with The Grumpy Outpost.

The Approach

A concept derived from a brewing passion.

With a heavily coffee-obssessed team, having an accessible café outpost would be the cherry on top of our new space. And so, The Grumpy Outpost was born – keeping the word “Grumpy” intact while retaining some of the original interior design elements as an ode to the original café. The challenge this time was how to design the outpost to be aesthetically functional so that it would still serve as a conducive workspace for those of us who prefer working away from a regular desk.

Shine bright like neon lights.

We needed a fresh look starting with a brand-new logo to complement the name.

Several iterations of the logo design came about putting emphasis on the word “Grumpy” as a tribute element while adopting a more subtle industrial treatment for the word “Outpost”. We had to do away without the block letters and the bold fonts for the word “Grumpy” to avoid painting a picture of an overly angsty workforce. The final design of the logo brought a friendlier, more tongue-in-cheek representation of out ‘grumpy’ theme.

Now, to bring our logo design to life in the form of a physical sign! We brainstormed and collaborated with a local woodwork company. The fruitful collaboration brought about our unique “Grumpy” neon signage that now sits mounted on the wall with metal rods for the word “Outpost” to add balance to the bright neon signage.

Not another brick in the wall.

It was imperative to us to make the space our own nook in the pantry. We did this by ensuring that the interior design of the outpost blended in nicely with the office’s overall industrial-look while injecting hints of a retro-vintage themed café.

We opted for a red brick wall in the café area to pop and stand out from the rest of the office’s grey earthy tones. To complement the brick wall, we added an American classic looking fridge for good measure.

Lastly, an homage to The Grumpy Cyclist would be incomplete without one of Alex’s high-end (and probably very expensive) bicycles featured on the far right of the brick wall.

Coffee first. Schemes later.

When it comes to the nitty-gritty part of manning the café Outpost, we got lucky with one of our employees who carries more than 3-years’ worth of barista experience to provide both expertise and support in the running of the Outpost. This included sourcing coffee beans and milk suppliers, setting up the grinder and expresso machine, purchasing essential barista accessories, as well as providing the basic training for the rest of our team to work the expresso machine (we don’t condone laziness).

Our limited-edition ROCKET Rapha Cycle Club expresso machine (1 out of only 200 in the world) brews exceptional expresso worthy of being served at an overpriced ‘hipster coffee’ joint. It sits fittingly on our bar countertop which also underwent numerous rounds of refinement to ensure the right height positioning for the machine.

Aesthetics aside, the high table bar with tall stools inspired by the high coffee tables and chairs in cafes were designed to be just suitable for getting real work done, thanks to the ideal height and multiple plug points.

Implementing the CARE Project to The Grumpy Outpost.

We quickly realised that our little coffee obsession was likely causing harm to the environment. This inspired the birth of COMMUNICATE’s Active Responsibility for the Environment Project also known as the CARE Project to counter the impacts of coffee consumption against climate change. With this green initiative in place starting with our café outpost, we are possibly a pioneer for sustainable office pantries/café outposts in Malaysia.

The following efforts have been inplemented since May 1, 2020:

01 Tracking and limiting coffee consumption.

02 Conserving expresso coffee usage.

03 Sourcing local sustainable and fair-trade coffee bean.

04 Composting coffee grounds.


Breaking into new terrain.
As a hybrid data consulting-creative agency, no matter how unconventional a project may be, we thrive on taking up projects from various industries and sectors.

Happier visiting clients.
The unique concept of The Grumpy Outpost in our office has been an interesting icebreaker and gives a great first impression to clients and guests who visit.

Limited and controlled coffee consumption.

Reduced energy consumption.

Contributing to the wellbeing and income of local coffee farmers.

Nearly zero-waste and full trash-free.

Potentially the first sustainable office pantry/café outpost to exist in Malaysia.

A comfortable, aesthetically functional office pantry & café to call our own. Watch the video run-down of the space here.