Bangkok Buzz: Gourmet Coffee, Tea and the Latest Caffeine in Bangkok



For a city that not so long ago was a complete wash when it came to caffeine and not on anyone’s world coffee map, Bangkok has certainly come a long way. These days, gourmet slow drip coffee is all the rage, with a bevy of knowledgeable roasters and brewers leading the charge of caffeine consciousness. 

For great single bean origin cups, and plenty of barista knowledge to go with the brew, head over to cozy Ceresia, or stop by Gallery Drip for a slow pourover. Kaizen is one of Bangkok's best, serving Melbourne style flat whites and knockout nitrogen brewed coffee. Pacamara and Roots are also great spots to try out locally grown organic Thai beans and support the local growing industry, with Thailand's northern slopes actually being quite fertile spots to grow arabica beans.

If traditional Thai coffee perks your interest, café Boran or antique coffee as they call it, dark, strong, and sweetened with plenty of condensed milk, try drinking in a place like Chinatown’s Eiah Sae with a bunch of locals who have probably been sitting in the same spot for the past 20-30 years. At the other end of the spectrum, head for high end tea and scones in an English garden far more reminiscent of Piccadilly than Bangkok at Agalico.

Other unique spots to drink coffee and tea in include being surrounded by antique Chinese furnishings at Hundred Children Cafe or enjoying your latte while perusing Bangkok's best selection of used books at Dasa Book Cafe.



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Hundred Children Cafe and Gallery
Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis

 

A rather odd little gem right in the heart of Bangkok, A Hundred Children Café and Gallery is actually an old fashioned furniture shop selling Chinese house furnishings like cushions or lacquer boxes, and plenty of other decorative items. Add a menu and beverage items to the mix and you have an eccentric little café which is perfectly located at Asok, next to both the BTS Skytrain and MRT Subway stations. In addition to various coffee drinks, there is green tea, mini waffles, croissants, and the latest addition to the menu, a tom yam goong burger! The shop imprints their logo on everything, from souvenir postcards to even the coffee cups and is a good spot to escape the rush hour congestion in.


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Kuppa
Photo courtesy of courtesy of Kuppa


 

Kuppa is a real man's coffee shop. Not only is it an extremely pleasant café, located in an old warehouse, but it also roasts and sells its own coffee, hand roasting and grinding up blends like Indian Monsooned Malabar or Guatemalan Volcan de Oro, as well as espresso and signature blends. A giant coffee roasting machine stands in the midst of Kuppa, showing exactly just how much they mean business, and yet the comfortable seating with couches and tables ensures that you will relax and stay awhile. While the daytime at Kuppa sees more of a café atmosphere and crowd, the evening brings in plenty of diners, as the place is also a top notch restaurant, serving up a mix of elegant Asian and Western specialties, such as soft shelled crab or duck liver parfait, all the more reason to stay once your coffee cup is drained.


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Dasa Book Cafe
Photo courtesy of courtesy of Dasa Book Cafe


 

In the age of I Pads, Pods, and Phones, not to mention Kindles, it is tough to find a good old fashioned book cafe, but Dasa keeps the pages turning. Based on the "dasa" (meaning slave) in the venerated name of the Thai monk Buddhadasa Bhikku, and the idea that book lovers are slaves to print, this quaint little shop serves firstly as Bangkok's best used bookstore, as well as a homey cafe in which to relax over coffee or tea. The owners are bibliophiles and maintain a database of all titles, not to mention stocking all 10,000 plus of them neatly by genre and alphabetized by author, quite a rarity in Thailand. Not really a coffee shop but a great bookstore and hangout spot to enjoy a cup of caffeine!


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Roots is at the epicenter of the Bangkok coffee renaissance. What started out as the production kitchen for the folks over at Roast (an artisanal coffee and brunch spot) has evolved into a coffee workshop (from home brewing to tasting and latte art) and barista training space, along with being a fine coffee roaster. While weekdays are for coffee education only, weekends sees the quaint cafe open up to the public, where co-founder and master roaster Korn Sanguankeaw chats with customers, invites them to choose their coffee origin and brewing method (pour over, French press, or espresso), and happily shares his coffee obsessions and faith in the Thai coffee future. Many of the gourmet cafes around Bangkok get their beans from Roots, and customers even pay via an honesty box in which one pays what one thinks the coffee and delicious home made pastries are worth!


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Agalico
Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis


 

Not only one of the best cafes in Bangkok but an amazing respite from the urban jungle and perhaps worth a sightseeing visit alone. Agalico is the brainchild of renowned Thai landscaper and interior designer ML Poomchai Chambala, who did the Mrigadayavan Palace gardens and the Boathouse in Hua Hin. Chambala spent many years in England and loved tea, and the result of that time is a Jane Austen fantasy, a beautiful gazebo set amidst lush gardens where the Bangkok elite come to escape. What started as a meeting place for Chambala's friends evolved, and he further graces the spot with his baking talents as well, providing scones and cakes that are superb. Agalico is only open from Friday-Sunday though, so plan accordingly.


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This intimate and top notch cafe in the Rainhill Plaza was named by owner Chartree Treelertkul after the El Salvadorean pacamara arabica, a hybrid of the Bourbon mutation Pacas and the Maragogype beans, known for being a big bean with great flavour. The owner started his business up in Chiang Mai, and he knows the northern Thai coffee bean scene well, stocking his cafe with 70% Thai beans, supporting local growers. The iced lattes here are packed with flavour, and there are constantly rotating selections of new blends to try. Pacamara also stocks plenty of fresh beans for sale, and the company does all their own roasting.


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If you are looking for authentic, this is the real deal. Over 60 years old, Eiah Sae has been churning out the owner's great grandparents' coffee recipe to an endless array of chain smoking regulars, ranging from old Chinese men to hip young couples looking for an excellent cup of joe. With its Art Deco purple walls, vintage photos of the Thai king playing the saxophone as a young man, and 25 baht cafe Boran (old style coffee), you can't go wrong here. Even if you aren't a fan of the strong coffee laced with plenty of sweet condensed milk (no, they don't do espresso or cappuccino here) it is still worth coming just for the ambience.


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Run by a Thai and his Venezuelan wife and her sister, Ceresia specialises in superb gourmet coffee from around the world served with plenty of love and affection. Bret Asavaroengchai and his wife Lucia Aguilar and her sister Marian know coffee inside out, as the Aguilar's family were coffee growers, and the beans here are all sourced from single origin farms and cooperatives around the world and given meticulous attention to how they are grown and processed, with Ceresia stocking seasonal blends from countries ranging from Kenya and Ethiopia in Africa to Columbia and El Salvador in the Americas. Coffee is roasted daily in small batches to maintain its original flavour and the owners are more than happy to make suggestions and describe the entire coffee making process from farm to espresso maker. The homey cafe also has some wonderful pastries to go with the fine brew, and you might find yourself staying here longer than planned, chatting up the owners about all things caffeine.


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Started by a couple of photographer friends, this charming cafe in the Bangkok Art & Culture Center is the ideal hangout for artsy types. The owners take their coffee seriously, serving Kenyan and Ethiopian single origin beans along with Thai premium selects sourced from organic farms, and a cup of real brew takes a lot of time here, as the staff spend ages bent over a couple of ceramic drip filters, fastidiously pouring the perfectly heated water over freshly roasted beans. Coffee here gets served in jugs, the baristas are a real source of coffee knowledge, and the whole cafe stands behind fair trade and supporting the burgeoning Thai gourmet coffee scene, making Gallery Drip a great spot for a buzz prior to heading up to check out the latest art exhibitions.


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Kaizen is one of Bangkok's newest and hippest cafes, but not only is it cool, it serves up some of the city's best brews. Three hipster friends started up this small spot way up Ekamai, and the quaint all white interior cafe serves up high end gourmet coffee inspired by the Australian Melbourne cafe scene. Flat whites are as good as you'll find in town, and Kaizen also makes explosive nitrogen brewed cups that will knock your socks off. The baristas take their craft seriously here, are extremely knowledgable about the world coffee scene, and the cafe also serves up brunch items and a great array of sweet things to compliment the brew. The only drawback to Kaizen is that it isn't close to the skytrain, and one really needs to take a taxi to get here.


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Meet Dave Stamboulis

Dave Stamboulis is a travel writer/photographer based in Bangkok. Born in Athens, Greece and growing up in the U.S., Dave first discovered Bangkok while on a 45,000-kilometer bicycle trip and...  More About Dave

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