Thailand‘s capital is home to a vibrant specialty coffee scene with more than 250 cafés and roasters.
BY TANYA NANETTI
SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT
Feature photo by David Gardiner via Unsplash
Bangkok can be a complicated city. It’s crowded, gritty, and hot and humid 24/7. But for travelers open to exploring and fully immersing themselves in the city, Bangkok inspires love at first sight. Breathtaking temples with golden Buddhas stand alongside huge skyscrapers and colorful shopping malls; locals greet you with open hearts not only when you enter a store, but also with a smile every time you pass someone on the street. And how can we not mention Thai food? Tasty, (very) spicy, cheap, often washed down with an ice-cold beer.
But there is more than just cheap beer and pad Thai on Bangkok’s menu! New shops selling bubble tea, craft beers, and specialty coffees have been trending over the past decade.
Welcome to Bangkok’s Coffee Scene
Today, the city has 250 (and counting) specialty coffee shops and roasters, ranging from beautiful art spaces to small independent establishments.
Here is a short list of five cool cafés that will make you fall in love with beautiful Bangkok.
One of the city’s most famous and sacred areas is the Grand Palace, the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782 and home to the revered Emerald Buddha. On the busy street that leads to the Grand Palace sits the small shop, Coffee Context. With its clean black and (mostly) white style, it’s reminiscent of classic Nordic coffee shops, minimalist and stylish. The roasters present also contribute to this impression: DAK (Amsterdam) and Standout (Stockholm) at the time of our visit, but April (Copenhagen) and other European roasters also change frequently to show different styles of the roasting world.
Coffee Context also features one of the most beautiful brew bars we have seen in a long time: clean, professional, perfect. Like the delicious coffee that the skilled baristas brew here.
Not far from Coffee Context, Piccolo Kafe is another example of the beautiful design of many Bangkok cafés. This extraordinary venue shares the ground floor of an elegant apartment building with a fortune teller’s space that looks a bit like a private investigator’s office.
But of course, the eye-catching design is not the main reason to visit Piccolo. The offerings selected for pour over here are delicious. Boss, the super-friendly owner, is very fond of fruity, flavorful coffees. He features amazing roasters from around the world, such as Prolog (Copenhagen) and Lilo Coffee Roasters (Osaka) in his brew bar. Small and cozy, Boss and his Piccolo will make you feel at home from your first visit.
Wandering the streets of Bangkok, you are never too far from a delicious pour over, as is the case with As.Is. Perfectly located on the way to Chinatown, right behind Wat Traimit (home of the Golden Buddha), As.Is is a cozy space with warm industrial design and a cute sofa in the back. On the brew bar menu, guest roasters (Australia’s renowned Proud Mary at the time of our visit) are offered along with some delicious home-roasted coffees, such as the 90+ Panama estates we fortunately had the opportunity to try.
On the outskirts of Bangkok’s Little Tokyo, but completely off the beaten path, Pobnar is more of a micro-roastery than a coffee shop – at least from the looks of it. Yet it is one of the nicest places in Bangkok to have a delicious coffee.
Tucked away in a small alley, with only a sign in Thai indicating the presence of a specialty café down the street, Pobnar looks like someone’s home. Tiny, cozy, with a row of shoes left outside (as is customary in local homes and temples), a sweet house cat, and a simple communal table inside.
But behind the small counter is where the magic happens, with the roasting machine spreading its delicious aroma. A group of delightful people will serve you the delicious beverage of your choice, while they prepare bags of coffee to be delivered around town.
The trendy malls in the Ratchadamri area feature a multitude of specialty coffee shops, mostly from small local chains or large international chains. By searching carefully it is also possible to find a few hidden gems, such as Høst x Amber, on the ground floor of Central World.
A small coffee shop project created in collaboration with Hong Kong’s Amber Coffee Brewery, Høst features few chairs (but most customers here take drinks to go anyway). There’s a long list of coffees to brew to your liking, in espresso or pour-over, or to enjoy as a cold brew.
Looking for something cold to escape the heat, we chose a Colombian cold brew with notes of lychee and red fruits. It was one of the tastiest cold brews we’ve ever had. This is the right stop for drinking something different during an afternoon of shopping.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tanya Nanetti (she/her) is a specialty-coffee barista, a traveler, and a dreamer. When she’s not behind the coffee machine (or visiting some hidden corner of the world), she’s busy writing for Coffee Insurrection, a website about specialty coffee that she’s creating along with her boyfriend.