Ya Kun Kaya Toast (亚坤加椰面包) is a Singaporean chain of cafés selling toast products (notably kaya toast), soft-boiled eggs and coffee. The Ya Kun Kaya Toast story started in 1926, when 15-year-old Loi Ah Koon carried his wooden suitcase and scrambled frantically on board an old Chinese junk sailing from Hainan Island (in China) to Singapore.
After a long sojourn in the South China Sea, Ah Koon finally reached Singapore. Many uncertainties were swirling around in his head. His first job there was to work as an assistant in a Hainanese coffee stall. Slowly but surely, young Ah Koon started to pick up the tricks of the trade.
Soon, he teamed up with two fellow Chinese immigrants to start their own coffee stall business at Telok Ayer Basin. Yet, this partnership was short lived, as his partners decided to venture elsewhere. A determined young man, Ah Koon decided to keep going on his own.
Coffee, tea, egg and toast – he served them all. His clientele varied from coolies, merchants, money-lenders, police inspectors, boat operators, who all got used to starting their day slurping Ah Koon’s piping hot coffee and munching on his charcoal-grilled toasts.
Ah Koon got married in 1936, with his wife joining him in Singapore and helping him to expand his business. Ah Koon also began roasting his own coffee and bought coffee beans, added ‘Planta’ margarine and sugar and roasted these over firewood at the back of this stall. He would wake up every day at 5 AM to serve his early customers with a serene smile.
The name of Ya Kun (an easier to pronounce variation of Ah Koon) was trademarked in 1944, quickly becoming synonymous with unparalleled kaya toast and irresistibly fragrant coffee and tea, enjoyed amidst a cozy atmosphere.
Business remained in Lau Pa Sat for 15 years during which it secured ‘The Most Courteous Stall in Lau Pa Sat’ award. In 1999, Ah Koon passed away, after going from one coffee stall to 56 in Singapore alone. His legacy is carried on by his children and grandchildren who are taking his coffee to whole world.
In 2001, Ya Kun launched their first overseas outlet in Indonesia. The chain now has 50+ outlets, mostly franchised, across 14 countries. Ya Kun is by far a Singaporean cultural icon, well-known for its traditional brand identity and people-centric corporate culture.
Get to know who are the industry key players, visit our Interview of the Week page.
To stay updated, visit our Franchise News section.
To learn more, visit our Franchising Tips section.