13 December 2023

Nine Speciality Coffee Shops To Visit in Bangkok

My main holiday this year was a very long-awaited trip to Thailand. I spent two wonderful weeks in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the Andaman Islands and I'll be blogging about each of these destinations over the next few weeks. First up is my speciality coffee guide to Bangkok, a city that has some seriously impressive — and beautiful — coffee spots.

In many of the cafes I visited, there is an almost bewildering range of single-origin coffees available for brewing as a hand-brewed filter coffee (including some very rare and special coffees), as well as highly creative signature drinks (some involve more coffee than others) and, of course, your usual espresso-based drinks. There's also a big emphasis on sensory joy — from the attention to tasting notes to the presence of atomisers to allow you to better appreciate the coffee aroma before buying or trying (as pictured at PAGA below) and the attention to detail with the design and aesthetics of the cafe.

I found that a piccolo tended to cost about 80 THB (about £1.80) in most shops, whereas a single-origin pourover could run anywhere from about 120 to 300 THB (£2.70 to  £6.70). I did pay 550 THB (£12.30) at WWA Portal (pictured below) — this was before I had got my head around the exchange rate, but to be fair it was a super-rare coffee and it was one of the best filter coffees I've drunk all year! Almost all of the places below accept credit card payments but in Bangkok, like in the rest of Thailand, it is always best to carry cash with you. Most places also allow payment via QR Code (especially with Line), but it's either difficult or impossible for tourists to get access to most of these services.

I had four full days in Bangkok but as getting around the sprawling city can be time-consuming, I had to be strategic and combine coffee shop exploration with my other sightseeing activities. And that's how I've organised this guide: which speciality coffee shops can you find close to some of the Thai capital's biggest tourist attractions. As always, my very favourites are marked in purple in my Google Map and with an asterisk below.

Handy for a visit to... Sukhumvit malls and Benchakitti Park

* PAGA Microroastery

It was a relief to step out of the 33C heat and into the cool, minimalist setting of PAGA Microroastery. Set over two floors — the roastery and some more seating is upstairs — the cafe is calming spot to cool down and caffeinate. The large, angular counter takes up most of the ground floor, with some seating around the edge of the room. A Sanremo Opera 2.0 sits on the counter, holding some pink cups for the espresso-based drinks. I did indeed have an excellent piccolo, brewed with a Costa Rican coffee, but filter coffee is what it's all about at PAGA.

During my visit, there were 16 "not your regular filter coffee" choices on the menu. It was really hard to choose among them but in the end, I opted for the Malaysian My Liberica coffee by Jake Hu (300 THB). Coffea liberica is another coffee species (alongside Arabica, Robusta and others) and I've been wanting to try it for some time. The naturally processed coffee had really powerful pineapple and jackfruit notes and it was a refreshing brew for a hot day. At the end of my trip, I returned to buy some beans to take home, pumping a few of the diffusers (see the photo at the top) before settling on an Ethiopian variety (850 THB). If you're interested in trying rare and unusual filter coffees, PAGA is a great place to come.

PAGA Microroastery is located at 45, 1 Soi Sukhumvit 31 (Sukhumvit MRT or Asok BTS). Website. Instagram.

Roast at EmQuartier

It took me a while to find Roast inside the EmQuartier mall — I found quite a lot of the huge Bangkok shopping complexes quite hard to navigate, but the EmQuartier was particularly labyrinthine. The key is to look for the Helix Quartier (Building A), which is where Roast is located. Once I was there, I was very glad to made the trip.

I started with a piccolo brewed with their signature espresso — 50% Doi Wieng (Chiang Mai), 50% Suan Ya Luang (Nan), which was smooth and sweet. As it was the brunching hour, I also partook in my only Western brunch of the trip, enjoying avocado on toast with roasted tomatoes. Roast's cafe is open all day and they also have an extensive food and drink menu.

Roast is located at 1 Helix Building A 693 695 Sukhumvit Road (Phrom Phong BTS) and other locations. Website. Instagram.

* WWA Portal

WWA Portal, which is only a few minutes' walk from PAGA Microroastery, is another great place to go for a really special filter coffee. The gleaming silver coffee bar has a futuristic feel and the attention to detail that goes into every cup of coffee is incredible.

There were five single-origin filter coffees on the menu and I couldn't resist ordering the Paris St Germain selected yeast process coffee. I hadn't yet got on top of the currency conversions and I only realised later that this 550 THB was about £12.30, but it was definitely worth it. The tasting notes promised rose, lychee and strawberry and each sip of the coffee was bursting with all three, especially as it cooled. Rose notes don't always come through well in coffee, but this was immaculately brewed.

WWA Portal is located at 27 Soi Sukhumvit 19 (Sukhumvit MRT or Asok BTS). Facebook. Instagram.

Handy for a visit to... Jim Thompson House and BACC

* Factory Coffee

I stopped by Factory Coffee ahead of my visit to the nearby Jim Thompson House Museum and it was super-busy on the Monday morning I was there. The bright and spacious cafe has a large, concrete coffee bar at its centre and there's plenty of seating around the sides. I didn't get much time to look in detail at the menu before it was my time to order, which is a shame because there was a huge selection of 'signature drinks' available, as well as standard espresso-based drinks and filter coffee. Most of the signatures were a bit too desserty for my taste, but I saw another customer being served an espresso tonic, which came with a perfume diffuser to create an even lovelier sensory experience.

I ordered a flat white beautifully brewed with the Factory blend, which was super-sweet and tasty. Although I went classic with my coffee, I did go for the 'charcoal coconut croissant', which was disarmingly black but tasted delicious with the sweet coconut filling. There are lots of other cakes and sweet treats on offer, and a wide array of coffee beans and merch on sale in the shop.

Factory Coffee is located at 49 Phaya Thai Road (Phaya Thai BTS). Website. Instagram.

Gallery Drip Coffee

I might not have visited the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre had I not been heading for coffee at Gallery Drip, but I'm glad that I did — the huge, multistorey space had some very interesting exhibitions and great independent shops. The décor at Gallery Drip is also befitting of its arty location: a wave-like sculpture made from coffee cups undulates across the ceiling, while V60 drippers form colourful patterns in the windows.

They roast their own coffee too and it was here that I first tried coffee grown in Thailand. In particular, I had a filter coffee brewed with an anaerobic natural Baan Wat Chan variety from the Chiang Mai region, which had a fruity but balanced flavour. I sat amid various coffee books while staff members packed up beans for their retail offering. There was also a barista training taking place on the other side of the brew bar.

Gallery Drip Coffee is located at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, 939 Rama Road (National Stadium BTS). Website. Instagram.

Roots at Ratchathewi

I visited two branches of Roots — and saw several more — while I was in Bangkok and the décor and the retail offering is always impressive. They have some really nice merch, as well as coffee-making kit and locally sourced lifestyle goods available to purchase, as well as coffee beans. This location on Phaya Thai Road is their 12th and newest branch. It's a spacious and cheerfully decorated cafe, with a big brew bar and plenty of seating. I was so hot that I caved and ordered my pourover over ice — it was produced by Nawin & Tina in the Mae Suay region of Chiang Rai, a natural aerobic coffee that had nice berry flavours.

Roots is located at Ratchathewi Asia Hotel 296 Phaya Thai Road (Ratchathewi BTS) and other locations. WebsiteInstagram.

Handy for a visit to... Wat Saket and the Golden Palace or waiting in line at Jay Fai

Mother Roaster

Mother Roaster was the closest coffee shop to my first hotel but as it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, I missed it during my first stay in Bangkok. But when I came back to the area to try to eat at the legendary Jay Fai, I was able to drop in to Mother Roaster for a coffee and some air con while I waited for my queue number to (not) be called down the road. The petite cafe feels as though you're in the living room of a particularly elegant friend. 

It was filter coffee only on the menu and there were a series of Origami and other drippers on the bar. There were three coffees available, all from Northern Thailand. I opted for a washed Mae Ton coffee from Chiang Mai (120 THB), which had refreshing notes of black tea and berries. It was a wonderful respite from the busy street outside and the Bangkok heat.

Mother Roaster is located at 457 Maha Chai Road (Sam Yot MRT) and other locations. Facebook. Instagram.

Roots at Pratu Phee

This location of Roots was the closest coffee shop to my first Bangkok hotel, and having landed at around 7 am, arrived in the city around 8 am, stored my bags and had a quick dip in the hotel pool, I was enjoying a lovely piccolo at Roots by 8:45 am. Not bad! The light is lovely in this particular location, the warm colours giving a delightful glow. They also sell a lot of local food products in the shop section.

As for the coffee, it was great and very well brewed. My piccolo was brewed with the P'Manop coffee from Mae Hong Song province and had syrupy and almond notes. I also tried one of their 'cretzels' — a croissant/pretzel hybrid, which was pretzel-shaped but tasted more croissant-like. A very nice breakfast treat after a long journey from London.

Roots is located at 242–246 Maha Chai Road (Sam Yot MRT) and other locationsWebsiteInstagram.

Handy for a visit to... Chinatown

La Cabra

Towards the end of my first day in Bangkok, the heat and the tiredness were starting to get to me. I was in Chinatown at the time and after checking my Google Map, I realised that I was very close to La Cabra. This Danish coffee company has been spreading its roots further afield — I almost visited them in New York last month — and this Bangkok branch will soon be followed by a bakery in Silom.

The green tiled coffee bar takes up most of the front section of the small cafe; there's a small seating area at the back, as well as some shaded seating out front. As I was so hot, I decided to order a hand-brewed filter coffee over ice — I try to avoid this when I can, as I prefer the flavours in regular hot coffee, but needs must! There were seven single-origin filter coffees available and I decided to pick one I thought would work well with ice with some help from the lovely baristas. I chose the Potosi XO anaerobic natural from Colombia (260 THB), which was super-juicy with sweet, fruity flavours. Not a coffee fan? They have some interesting non-coffee signature drinks too. And stay tuned for the baked goods!

La Cabra is located at 813 Charoen Krung Road (Hua Lamphong MRT). Website. Instagram.

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