If you’re like me, coffee is super important when you travel and finding a decent café is often just as important as visiting the local attractions.
As it turns out, Chiang Mai has an impressive lineup of café’s and a fast growing reputation for being the home of specialty coffee in Thailand.
But what exactly is the connection between Chiang Mai and specialty coffee?
The Birth of Specialty Coffee Culture in Chiang Mai
As you may know, Chiang Mai is considered the cultural capital of Thailand where ancient temples and local traditions are still largely intact. For this reason, the city is popular with tourists and ex-pats looking to settle down.
For many Thai people, these visitors were equally intriguing and in time, the locals became curious about their Western ways. Simply put, locals started to develop a taste for specialty coffee and Chiang Mai had all the right resources to become a prominent coffee city.
In fact, farmers have been growing coffee to the north of Chiang Mai for more than forty years. What’s more, as a means of dissuading villagers from producing opium, a government initiative sought to encourage the cultivation of Arabica coffee plants.
Although the Akha people were first embrace the production of coffee, many local coffee shops and companies are now creating their own specialty coffee.
Here are three otherworldly cafés in Chiang Mai that you need to visit:
‘It’s not just the cultivation or roasting or even the barista that makes for a good coffee – it’s every single part of the process.’ – Arnon Thitiprasert
When Arnon Thitiprasert returned home after emmigrating to Australia, he wanted to use his experience as a barista to create a local artisan coffee shop.
Interestingly, Ristr8to’s coffee beans come from various corners of the world so you can be sure of a nice international variety on the menu. At the same time, the most popular coffee is produced on location and the roasting lab is just around the corner from the café.
In many ways, this is quite a trendy and hip place to sip on a gourmet coffee and with many awards to its’ name, Rstr8to can be rather busy. Featuring beautifully finished wooden furnishings, friendly staff and a hip atmosphere, it’s easy to see why Arnon has been so successful with this flawless and classy café in Chiang Mai.
As for the coffee itself, Ristr9to has both cold brews and pour overs, while the cup size varies for those who can’t handle the caffeine!
Woo Cafe & Art Gallery
Woo Café is another trendy café in Chiang Mai that continues to impress locals and tourists alike. Situated next to the riverside, Woo is in a particularly busy area, but surprisingly, you will find a quiet and relaxing atmosphere in the cafe.
It’s true that Woo is slightly more expensive than other cafés in Chiang Mai but when coffee tastes this good, I’m not sure that most people pay any attention to the price. In fact, the specialty coffee at Woo is nothing short of sublime and in comfortable surroundings, you can be sure that the experience is worth any amount of baht.
Interestingly, Woo Café is also part of an art gallery that sells jewellery and some really beautiful home décor. That being said, you want the coffee, right?
Moral of the story: Woo Café can live up to even the highest of standards.
Chich 39 really is a one of a kind when it comes to café’s in Chiang Mai. Located 15km to the north of the city, the café is attached to a beautiful B&B of the same name.
The reputation of this café and its specialty coffee is the true highlight, and the reason why ex-pats and locals keep returning.
Green, luscious rice fields surround the café and stretch out to dense jungle on the horizon. In fact, if it were not for the sign on the roof, you would think this was merely a farm.
With this in mind, Chic 39 is a unique opportunity to take comfort in the modern-chic design and drink in the natural scenery.
And then there is the coffee. Chic 39 produces some perfectly balanced blends that show precisely why Chiang Mai has become so popular with coffee connoisseurs. With very reasonable prices, gorgeous views and some excellent desserts on the menu, there are few café’s in Chiang Mai that deserve such an impressive reputation as Chic 39.
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