When we think of Bangkok, shopping, temple hopping and great Thai food are generally the first things to spring to mind. But take a peak beyond the tourist trail and there’s a flourishing cafe scene that’s amongst the world’s best. Coffee culture is booming, with no shortage of places to sit and lounge with a perfectly blended brew. Travel writer Aleney De Winter explores Bangkok’s booming coffee Culture.
While Bangkok would not be the first city to spring to mind when one thinks of coffee, the city has embraced caffeine, reinventing its own inimitable style and finesse, and you’ll find more hipster chic cafés serving up artfully crafted coffees than you can you can fill an Instagram account with.
Gone are the days when a coffee in Bangkok meant calorie-packed sweet kafae boran, made with sweetened condensed milk, and cream, though they’re still popular with the locals and a must-try for visitors with a sweet tooth. But these days, with Bangkokians embracing café culture with great gusto, you’re far more likely to find an espresso or macchiato on the menu. You’re also as likely to bump into a mermaid or a unicorn as high fantasy is as highly regarded as a good foam at many of these venues.
Which does mean that many of the glamorous, smartphone wielding patrons of these cafes do have their eyes firmly on the Instagram prize, but the majority of them also boast award-winning baristas wielding the best internationally harvested and roasted beans, so the caffeinated creations aren’t all for show. If you’re keen to get caffeinated Bangkok-style, here’s a few of our favourites to get you started.
In Sukhumvit serious coffee fans head to Hands and Heart Café, as much for its modern minimal design, as its hand ground drip coffee. Equally popular is Ink & Lion,amicro-roastery café in Ekkamai, renowned for its baristas and beans.
Hidden behind the walks of Baan 2459, a boutique heritage hotel in the backstreets of Chinatown, is CHATA Specialty Coffee, a gorgeous glasshouse cafe with a crumbling red brick wall it shares with the Buddhist temple next door. Famed for its photogenic foam art and an award -winning barista, brewing only the best imported coffee beans from around the globe, this light-filled spot is popular amongst latte sipping lovelies and their harried Insta-husbands.
At the northern edge of Chinatown, where the heritage streets of Koh Rattanakosin (or Old Town) straddle the Chao Phraya River, are some of Bangkok’s most revered cultural landmarks including The Grand Palace and Wat Pho, but it’s also home to a cluster of hipster bars and too cool cafes.
Whimsical Oneday Wallflowers, nestled in a down a side lane on the edge of Rattanakosin, or Old Town, in what used to be a kombucha brewery, is a favourite. At street level a divine bespoke flower shop, while up its rustic spiral staircase amidst a jumble of trinkets and flowers, you’ll find delightful rustic cakes and artisan coffees that are as photogenic as the surroundings.
Tucked down another Rattanakosin alley, Blue Whale Maharaj Café, a glorious three-story shophouse serving up too-pretty to drink indigo lattes made with butterfly-pea flowers that leave patrons swooning. And Old Town’s Gallery Drip is a cafe and roaster boasting retro vibes and a focus on single origin beans, but it is the Shrek, a coffee jelly topped with milk foam and green tea ice cream, that’s made it Insta-famous.
Speaking of which, Bangkok offers a rainbow-hued abundance of cute cafés designed for just that purpose. Dive into the Mermaid Castle Cafe at Siam Square where two floors of sparkly mermaid fashion and collectibles lead to Mermaid tail cupcakes at the café. Or escape reality Unicorn Café at Sathorn where you can don a Unicorn onesie to sip your coffee in a unicorn smattered, pastel paradise.
At the enchanting Mocking Tales in Thonglor, patrons slurp fairy tale concoctions amongst spell books and magic potions. And for anime fans, in the Sukhumvit district there’s Ghibli galore at May’s Garden House, a My Neighbor Totoro themed café with a menu inspired by Ghibli films.