Chiang Mai Coffee Crawl: 7 Coffee Shops to Keep You Caffeinated in the North of Thailand
Staying caffeinated at the Rose in the North days before Songkran Festival 2019
Story and photos by Franz Domasian
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Roughly six hours from Sukhothai is the province of Chiang Mai which literally means “new city”. Still living up to the theme of this trip, I arrived in Chiang Mai with no plans. I am happy with the hostel I booked the day before. It’s called 33 Poshtel, a modern, posh hostel where I stayed for 4 nights in a 10-bed dorm. It is located inside the Old City Square, a few minutes walk to Tha Pae Gate, Chiang Mai’s famous landmark, food stalls and weekend bazaars!
Day OneI spent the first day exploring the neighborhood. I walked around blocks to check where I can eat and get coffee. Since I’m here for several nights, I didn’t pressure myself to visit a coffee shop on my first night. I just got a red curry pork from a street stall near my hostel and called it a night.
My first full day in Chiang Mai was, of course, spent exploring the city’s coffee scene. First stop was Ristr8to, home of the 2017 World Latte Art Champion. What a great start! I love the unapologetic vibe with several signature drinks I had a hard time choosing from. I wanted to try a lot but I opted for the Godmother – a 3 oz. mocha drink meticulously concocted and placed in a skull cup. The music was blasting and I didn’t mind! I usually like shops with very mellow music but everything in Ristr8to is just perfect!
From Ristr8to, I took a Grab car to Khagee. It is located by the Ping River which separates the Old City from the rest of Chiang Mai. The word khagee literally means “green” Thai. The shop is both a bakery and a cafe. They are use natural yeast for their specialty bread, and pull their coffee on a Strada machine. I got myself a long black which I paired with a creamy custard bun. Delightful! The long black’s nice, sweet-tasting crema envelopes strong taste notes of orange and chocolates. The creamy custard bun is light but has a nice thin crunch on top. Contrast to Ristr8to’s loud personality, Khagee is non-flashy and straightforward.
Gateway Coffee Roasters
The next stop is a few blocks away, inside the Old City Square. I chose to walk so I can explore the streets of Chiang Mai and snap a few random photos. It’s very humid outside and you can feel the excitement for the upcoming Songkran Festival. I did a quick side trip to a temple, and a few blocks after, I arrived at Gateway Coffee Roasters. They are located in the second floor of a building. The ground floor is a clothing store where I scored a few items – a statement shirt (Same, same but different!) and a kimono!
I wanted to visit a roastery for my third stop since I’ve tried espresso-based drinks in my first two stops. Gateway Coffee Roasters has a minimalist space. Before you reach the entrance, you will be welcomed by sacks of coffee and a small art gallery. Upon entering, the roastery and coffee bar to your left showcases Thai beans, while the pastry display is on the right. I especially love the wooden walls and floor and the jalousie-type windows. The sun was just peaking perfectly in the spot I chose, nice natural lighting for my coffee photo.
This is where I waited for Judy, a former colleague who is now a work-away volunteer stationed in Chiang Mai. I didn’t mind waiting because the place and the coffee is just plain perfection! We went to our last stop together which we almost missed! Coffee shops in Chiang Mai close rather early.
We arrived at Graph Cafe a few minutes before 5. It is located in a street corner which can be easily overlooked. I had my maximum caffeine intake for the day so I let Judy have this fourth cup. I was so glad that the barista from Graph still accepted our order. It’s a very small space but the facade is really beautiful. I enjoyed staying at the small bar outside during the golden hour! The cafe’s style is very similar to those hole-in-the-wall coffee shops usually found in Japan.
Caffeinated, we went further to try some local food: pineapple rice and vermicelli noodles. Our feet brought us to the residential area which led us to a street-side roti stall. We had egg and banana roti coated with condensed milk. Yum!
Day TwoSecond day in Chiang Mai is for further coffee exploring. It’s only one day before the official start of Songkran Festival and there are stalls in the street selling water guns. Some even started sprinkling water on people. The excitement is buzzing!
The Baristro at Ping River
My first stop is at The Baristro at Ping River. It’s a stylish cafe located just beside Barisotel in Nimman Road. The rustic vibe and the natural light penetrating inside the shop makes it a great place for enjoying a cup of joe. There are a number of signature cafe drinks but I opted for a piccolo latte which has just the right strength balanced with sweetness!
Find them at 62 Patan Road, T.Patan, Muang Chiang Mai, Thailand 50300 [click for map] Facebook: facebook.com/The-Baristro-at-Ping-river-325278201291984/ Instagram: @thebaristro
Akha Akma Coffee
I took a Grab from The Baristro to Akha Ama, a social enterprise which helps the local farmers. I am happy I was able to try local coffee beans. They are usually medium-bodied with very light sweetness and acidity which tastes like orange peel. There are two Akha Ama Coffee – one inside the Old City and one outside. The local coffee I ordered was brewed via Chemex.
A Day in Chiang Mai
After a quick lunch with Judy, we hopped to A Day in Chiang Mai. It’s a hip place which offers really good coffee. It reminds me of the shops in Karrivin Plaza in Chino Roces. It’s like a container van with brick walls, small tables and a coffee bar in a warehouse.
Judy had the iced long black, while I enjoyed hand-brewed coffee featuring beans from Jomthong, Chiang Mai which tasted like muscovado, chocolate and (you guessed it!) orange peel!
Chiang Mai Coffee Crawl Gallery
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