Bangkok is embracing the coffee culture, and I will not be surprised if one day it will become the new Melbourne! Characters detected: devotion to craftmanship, and locally rooted. No wonder Bangkok was home for ASEAN Barista Championship 2013. Coffee pilgrims, try these places! (I am certain there are more, and I will definitely share them here once I’ve discovered them.)
Roots Coffee Roaster
This roasterie and bakery welcomes guests – who surely will become immediate friends – on Saturdays and Sundays only. Freshly roasted beans are ground for espresso-based drinks, pour-over, and French press. Through the glass window we could see the bakers busy making pastries – which we could pick up right away while they are warm. Craftmanship and creativity are celebrated here, as Roots also support local independent band by playing their music. There is a strong sense of communal life as the place is crowded with the locals who share the same passion over coffee.
I was here for the first time all by myself. I had a nice time sitting at the very end of the coffee bar, talking to the barista, swapping stories. As I wanted to check out, I just realised that there was no cash register. We drop whatever amount of money we want to pay in a box. Well, there is a suggestion that a cup of coffee might be well-priced at THB 100, but they won’t hate you if you “pay” less. “You can also pick your change if you want,” said Varatt Vichi-Vadakan, the owner. Now, why would I want to do that after the beautiful Brazillian coffee, warm pastries, and – above all – the new friends I made there? After all, none can put a price tag on inspirations.
Roast Coffee & Eatery
Roast is Roots’ business place. Plenty of good food, and surely great coffee and pastries in a rather spacious place. It’s awkward for lone beanhunters like me, but it is a very friendly, smartly decorated, and cosy cafe for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My seafood linguine was infused with vodka, and the huge strawberry waffle definitely will cheer up the saddest broken hearts. The menu is inside The Daily Roast paper filled with well-written stories and articles. The latest edition includes a neighborhood map to point out other cafes and coffee shops around the area. “Because we want this community to grow together. Why don’t we support each other?” said Barista Ake as he handed me that paper when I met him in Roots.
Gallery Drip Coffee
Strategically located in Bangkok Art & Cultural Center – with immediate access to BTS Siam, right across the famous MBK shopping mall – Gallery Drip Coffee is busy brewing. Location, however, is not the main reason why this small place is never quiet. It’s the dedication to manual brewing and craftmanship. The walls are adorned with murals, and the shelves are stacked with artworks by local artists.
Gallery Drip Coffee does not have espresso machine. Basically, they just serve drip coffee. If you want “latte”, well, they can add milk. If you want it cold, well, they can do it with ice cubes as well. It’s cool that barista Kate-Rin Seehanate always mentions “friends” whenever I ask about their supplies. The beans? “Our friends roast them.” The cakes? “Our friends made them.”
I once sat at the mini bar as my favorite jackfruit-flavored Pamiang organic beans were prepared for me, and next to me was a Thai guy, and another lone beanhunter from Japan. Yes, as you can predict, we were instantly involved in a friendly conversation. Gallery Drip Coffee’s craftmanship is not only in brewing, but also connecting people better than Nokia.
Ceresia Coffee Roasters
The best thing about Ceresia is how they present the complicated beans-to-cup process in the simplest way. Enter this small place tucked in Sukhumvit Soi 33/1, right across Fuji Japanese Supermarket, and you can experience this minimalism. No, I am not just talking about the interior design, but – look! – that’s the roasting machine in the back, and that’s the freshly roasted beans, and those are the drippers right next to the cash register.
Venezuelan sisters Marian and Lucia Aguilar, and Lucia’s husband Bret Asavaroengchai started roasting and brewing here around two months ago, and the place has become everybody’s favorite ever since. “Coffee is our passion. We love it so much.” That might sound as cliche as can be, but when I saw and listened to how Bret said it, I could feel his honesty.
Casa Lapin x49
In a small dead end alley opposite Samitivej Hospital, Casa Lapin X49 is a branch of the one in Ari neighborhood. Wear your Oliver Peoplesl tortoise shells, navy blue checkered shirts, and knee-length khaki pants, as this is a hipster’s hiding place. The interior leans to shabby chic with still a masculine touch. There is a comfortable mezzanine floor, but I love sitting in the commual table downstairts. Espresso shots are pulled out of a La Marzocco engine, and beans are ground and filtered using various methods. They serve beans from local roasters including Roast and Ceresia. A great place especially if you happen to be in the area.