Food & Beverages

The coffee bar at Roots Coffee Roaster welcomes beanhunters every weekend.

The coffee bar at Roots Coffee Roaster welcomes beanhunters every weekend.

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.)

Related: The Hunt for a Perfect Cuppa in Sydney and Melbourne
Related: Jakarta’s Best Coffee Shops (So Far!)

Freshly baked pastries at Roots Coffee Roaster.

Freshly baked pastries at Roots Coffee Roaster.

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.

The cosy setting of Roast Coffee & Eatery.

The cosy setting of Roast Coffee & Eatery.

Strawberry Waffle at Roast Coffee & Eatery.

Strawberry Waffle at Roast Coffee & Eatery.

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.

The mural in Gallery Drip Coffee.

The mural in Gallery Drip Coffee.

Never stop brewing at Gallery Drip Coffee.

Never stop brewing at Gallery Drip Coffee.

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.

Five servings at one go at Ceresia Coffee Roasters.

Five servings at one go at Ceresia Coffee Roasters.

Freshly roasted beans at Ceresia.

Freshly roasted beans at Ceresia.

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.

Facebook: Ceresia Coffee Roasters

Outdoor seating at Casa Lapin X49.

Outdoor seating at Casa Lapin X49.

Brewing beans from local roasters at Casa Lapin X49.

Brewing beans from local roasters at Casa Lapin X49.

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.

Left: Piccolo Latte by Campos Coffee. Right: Mecca Espresso in 1 Albert St, Sydney.

Left: Piccolo Latte by Campos Coffee. Right: Mecca Espresso in 1 Alfred St, Sydney.


Mecca Espresso
As you’re wandering around Sydney Opera House and the harbour, why not take a relaxing break in the outdoorsy Mecca Espresso right across the Circular Quay? Sandwiched between office buildings opposite Four Seasons Hotel, this coffee shop is home to Trisatya Dharmawan who won New South Wales Barista Championship 2012. Try the Darkhorse Blend, Kenya Sasuri AA, and the soy cappuccino. Complete details:

Campos Coffee
That Saturday morning I was lost among the Newtown crowds. I hopped from one shops to another, finding treasures and things that I don’t need but want. At the end of Newtown, the street looked quieter. But there in the corner, after a short left turn, was Campos Coffee. Tiny, but guests kept coming. The place was packed. People drinking coffee from their cups standing. I was lucky to have a spot to sit and sip their Kenya AA Light Roast. My second cup was the confident piccolo latte using Campos Superior Blend. I loved this place so much I went to their headquarter the second day; Don Campos in Fountain Street. Boasting three La Marzocco engines, this place is much more spacious, and Barista David Ruslie told me that they’re going to open a bakery there soon. For complete details and online shopping:

Coffee Alchemy
This place is recommended by both David and Tri, and they talked about it as if it is Sydney’s best kept secret. It was quite a long stroll around the residential area of Marrickville. The purple jacaranda trees adorned the quiet streets in that cheerful sunny day. Coffee Alchemy indeed is a lab for the locals to get their caffeine fix in the most straightforward manner. Barista Hazel de Los Reyes was this year’s champion in NSW Barista Championship, and she herself happened to serve me with Coffee Alchemy’s Sibila’s Brew. This is not the kind of place for your buddies to hang out and chit chat for hours over a single cup of coffee, unless you’re completely shameless. Geek yourself out here in every single sip. Complete details:

Related post: Bangkok: Beautifully Brewing

Left to Right: St Ali North's Bone Marrow, Coffee Alchemy in Sydney, Proud Mary's Victoria Brew.

Left to Right: St Ali North’s Bone Marrow, Coffee Alchemy in Sydney, Proud Mary’s Victoria Brew.


St Ali North
This seems to be the number one place Melbournians would mention if you ask where is the best place to go for coffee. I went there for lunch in a weekend, and as predicted, the place was packed. Most recommended is its Bone & Brew item where they pair a portion of delicious bone marrow with their select brew – mine was Costa Rican. Yes, gulp the tangy bone marrow, and shower it with coffee inside your mouth, and you’ll get the every reason why St Ali North is a must-visit. There is also St Ali South, but you haven’t been to St Ali until you’ve been to the one in the North. Check it out:

Proud Mary
I went twice to Proud Mary, and I enjoyed sitting in the bar, having my Victoria Brew, served by Champion Barista Remy Shpayzer. Proud Mary is where fun equally meets the taste. Their blends are named Ghostrider and Honeysuckle, among many. The merchandise makes them look like the Hard Rock Cafe of coffee. The food? My Chicken Papardelle was heavenly. Ambience is as friendly as it could get. You don’t wanna miss Proud Mary. Check out their funky website:

Market Lane
AU$12 for Coffee Tasting Flight featuring small jugs of Santa Isabel (COE Lot 3), Juan Ticona (Bolivia), and Cachoeira da Grama (Brazil) was the best and most delicious bargain ever. I went to the Prahran Market store and cafe where both shopping housewives with their baby strollers, and executives with their business paper gathered. They also sell coffee equipments including a pocket scale which I found very handy. That Santa Isabel is lovely indeed, by the way. Highly recommended.


Left: Market Lane’s Coffee Tasting Flight. Right: Seven Seeds’s Panama.

Seven Seeds
You go to Brother Baba Budan to enjoy Seven Seeds coffee with tourists who take pictures of the unique ceiling featuring more wooden chairs than found on the floor. At least that’s what I’ve experienced there. However, the one in 114 Berkeley St, Carlton was a lot bigger. They were deemed as the place to serve the Best Coffee and Best Breakfast by Wallpaper magazine in 2010. My Eggs Benedict was the creamiest ever, and the Panama Esmeralda León Geisha was nutty, sweet, and very silky.

Auction Rooms
A ten-minute walk from Seven Seeds in Carlton brought me to Auction Rooms – another spacious joint filled with yuppies during that lunch break. I had a syphoned Kenyan of which the aroma was chocolatey, the taste was very clean, and the body had an almond flavour. The place was buzzing indeed.


Left: ORA Specialy Coffee in Kew, Melbourne. Right: Clement Coffee, the hole-in-a-wall in South Melbourne Market.

ORA Cafe
Perhaps nobody will mention ORA Cafe to you, and most likely because this little place is best kept secret. Pick Split from the menu where the espresso shots are split to make a cup of espresso, and a cup of piccolo latte. In between these two there is a cup of iced cascara. Their portion of pineapple brioche comes with pashmak and pineapple panna cotta. On Twitter: @ORA_Cafe

Clement Coffee
The hole-in-the-wall in South Melbourne Market serves two kinds of blends every day, and they keep changing. Barista Kris Wood will serve you with the fix. The scene was relaxing. Beautiful brew enjoyed with a mundane daily view of Melbourne’s busy market. On Tumblr: On Twitter: @ClementCoffee

Axil Coffee Roasters
I did not get the chance to go to their store and cafe, but my friend Joseph Erwin bought me a bag of Axil’s Sidamo Guji – Ethiopia. I brought it to 1/15 Coffee and let Champion Barista Doddy Samsura played around with it. Using Chemex, the result was a cup of warm and cheerful coffee with a lot of fruity flavours coming alive. It’s on the top of my list of must-visit places whenever I get the chance to go to Melbourne again.

Left: Lunch time in Auction Rooms. Right: Sidamo Guji - Ethiopia from Axil Coffee Roasters served in 1/15 Coffee, Jakarta.

Left: Lunch time in Auction Rooms. Right: Sidamo Guji – Ethiopia from Axil Coffee Roasters served in 1/15 Coffee, Jakarta.

This weekend I was invited to Singapore for the billionth time. Almost resisted the invitation as the itinerary did not sound interesting. Yet, while my TV series is having a break after episode 231, I thought this “free weekend in Singapore” could do no wrong. MasterCard Worldwide hosted me this time and they were launching Singapore as the latest addition to their Priceless Cities long running campaign program. After New York, London, Chicago, Sydney, and Beijing, Singapore now has become the first MasterCard’s Priceless City in Southeast Asia.

And I thought it was just going to be just another commercially-driven campaign.

Retail lounge Reebonz Space – luxury brands on discounts, plus 5% additional discount by MasterCard.

The visit to Reebonz Space was quite nice. The warehouse-looking retail lounge hosted many Balenciaga, Prada, Burberry, Proenza Schouler, Bottega Veneta, and other luxury brands. It could be better if the men’s collection was bigger. The dinner in Tippling Club that followed was very impressive and memorable. The white chocolate mousse with black truffle soil was my personal highlight. Carrot gnocchi with Iranian pistachio and avocado bathed in heirloom carrot broth was great as well. A flawless dining experience indeed.

White Chocolate Mousse covered with Black Truffle soil at Tippling Club

The next day sounded so uninteresting. Yeah, the press conference, followed with a launching event. I didn’t even pack my best suit to go there. The free flowing open bar was the ultimate reason why I endured the so-so live music followed with a fashion show that was mediocre at best. Food was, however, delicious and abundant. As long as my tummy’s happy, I would tolerate the lame factor. Oh, and there was the free back-and-shoulder massage – so, yeah, I was doing just fine.

Then the suprise came.

As the two-man band on the stage started to play, a familiar, silky and sexy voice was coming from the back of the crowds. I quickly placed myself in front of the stage as I was instantly thrilled with the question in my head, “Could that be him? Really him? Or, maybe it’s the overdose of wine?!”

The vocalist made his way from the back of the crowds to the stage. The other 500-something guests, as surprised and shocked as I was, were starting to scream hysterically. As I observe, my heart was pounding. Yes. I might not be the biggest fan of him, but that was really him! That was …

Getting a priceless kiss from a rose.


Seriously, even my in-the-know Singaporean friends had not any idea that Seal was in town to perform. And I was standing just inches away from him as he was belting out his “Kiss from a Rose” and “Crazy” among many. I could see his sweat dropping, I swear. And, seeing the shocked, surprised, and happy look on the faces of other guests, MasterCard has indeed made the evening absolutely priceless for us all.

The next day, the program was to visit Universal Studios Singapore. Going to theme parks means queuing for hours only to have a 10-minute thrilling ride. Sometimes it was just a 3-minute ride. However, MasterCard invited me to experience what it felt like being a VIP guest in Universal Studios Singapore. Yeah, we cut the hours-long line down to a few minutes, picked the best seats in the theaters, got a meal coupon worths S$25, and had a dedicated guide for five hours.

With offers in, MasterCard is really enhancing the city with many priceless moments and experiences for both visitors and residents. Jaw-dropping offers include joining Prince Albert II of Monaco in a Royal Gala Dinner, shopping in Club 21 with a Style Advisor, and many more. Any MasterCard holders can get these priceless offers.

Setelah mencoba berbagai alat penyaji kopi di rumah, saya merasa Clever Dripper adalah yang paling cocok buat saya. Kenapa?

Pertama, karena tidak seperti coffee drip machine biasa, Clever Dripper tidak menggunakan tenaga listrik sama sekali. Penghematan luar biasa! Kedua, tidak seperti French Press / plunger atau mokapot, Clever Dripper amat sangat mudah dibersihkan. Ketiga, dibanding coffee drip machine biasa, tingkat “kerepotan” menggunakan Clever Dripper sama saja dengan menggunakan French Press / plunger atau mokapot. Bedanya, dengan menggunakan Clever Dripper saya jadi lebih mudah bereksperimen dengan waktu pemanasan, suhu air, dan komposisi antara air dan serbuk kopi. Sangat menyenangkan! Terakhir, tentunya tidak seperti mesin pembuat kopi otomatis yang menggunakan kapsul berlapiskan aluminium yang harus selalu dibuang, Clever Dripper sangat ramah lingkungan.

Demikian saya bagikan seperti apa biasanya ritual pagi hari saya saat menyajikan kopi menggunakan Clever Dripper:

01. Ide sederhana dari Clever Dripper adalah sebuah klep di bagian bawahnya yang bisa membuka dan menutup. Apabila mendapat tekanan lembut dari bawah, klep ini akan membuka, dan cairan akan mengalir dari bagian mangkuknya ke bawah. Apabila tidak mendapat tekanan sama sekali, klep ini akan menutup saluran tersebut sehingga air akan tertahan di dalam mangkuk. Ada empat penyangga kecil di sisi-sisi bagian dasar Clever Dripper yang membuat klep akan selalu dalam keadaan tertutup (karena tidak mendapat tekanan dari bawah) ketika Clever Dripper diletakkan di atas coaster-nya.

02. Didihkan air yang cukup untuk lebih dari satu mug kopi. Sementara itu, letakkan Clever Dripper di atas mug yang kosong, dan tempatkan coffee filter di mangkuknya. Saat ini klep di bagian dasar Clever Dripper sedang mendapat tekanan dari bawah, yaitu dari tepi atas mug Anda. Jadi, klep tersebut dalam keadaan terbuka. Saat air sudah mendidih, tuangkan perlahan-lahan ke sekeliling tepian mangkuk Clever Dripper dengan tujuan untuk membasahkan seluruh bagian dari coffee filter. Air akan langsung turun ke dalam mug. Diamkan saja supaya berfungsi untuk memanaskan mug Anda. Kosongkan mug dari air panas tersebut saat mug akan diisi larutan kopi (Langkah no. 04).

03. Ketika air tadi sudah mengalir semua ke dalam mug, angkat Clever Dripper dan letakkan di atas coaster-nya. Saat ini, posisi klep di bagian bawah Clever Dripper tadi sedang tertutup karena tidak mendapat tekanan dari bawah. Masukkan bubuk kopi ke dalam mangkuk dengan takaran sesuai selera. Tuang air panas tadi untuk membasahkan bubuk kopi tersebut. Diamkan sejenak. (Saya biasa mendiamkan sekitar 30 detik.)

04. Lantas, saat Clever Dripper masih berada di atas coaster-nya, tuang air panas lagi ke dalam mangkuknya hingga volume-nya tepat dengan takaran bubuk kopi dan porsi yang diinginkan (apakah satu mug atau lebih). Diamkan selama kurang lebih 4 menit. Setelah itu, letakkan Clever Dripper yang sudah berisi larutan kopi tersebut di atas mug (seperti di gambar No. 4). Larutan kopi akan langsung mengalir ke dalam mug.

05. Setelah larutan kopi sudah habis dialirkan ke dalam mug, buang coffee filter dan ampas kopi di dalamnya. (Catatan: Buat yang tahu cara mengolahnya, ampas kopi juga bisa dijadikan pupuk.) Untuk membersihkannya, Clever Dripper cukup diberi aliran air. Silakan gunakan air panas untuk menghilangkan noda kopi.

06. Sementara itu, kopi Anda sudah siap dinikmati. Tambahan saja: cupcake itu bisa dipesan ke @Jakafe.

Mungkin agak sulit menemukan Clever Dripper di Indonesia. Saya mendapatkannya dari @kulikopi. Silakan coba hubungi via Twitter untuk mendapatkannya. Semoga masih ada stok 🙂