Today’s guest post is by Alex of HomeGrounds.co
Berlin, Copenhagen, New York, and Melbourne are all well-renowned coffee havens, but they have nothing on Chiang Mai, Thailand. This place has only recently jumped onto the coffee map, but it has done so with a very loud bang.
This city is so saturated with coffee shops that you could choose a different spot each day for two months and barely scratch the surface.
Yet the real beauty of Chiang Mai is not merely the number of coffee shops, it is that so many of them are actually good.
If you’re planning a trip to this hipster’s wet dream of a city, here is my list of top 5 must visit cafes.
The best way to start off your Chiang Mai adventure is with a taste of some truly local coffee. The Akha Ama coffee shop gets its name from the Akha people who inhabit a small agricultural village just outside the city.
As you may have already guessed, the Akha are coffee bean farmers, and they are the main suppliers for the coffee shop. The owners at Akha Ama have a passion for both delicious coffee and sustainable development.
Because of the success of the cafe, the Akha people have been able to expand and build a school within their town. For a truly local experience, there is no better choice than Akha Ama coffee shop.
Though a little out of the way, Omnia Cafe is the place to be for high-quality coffee. This cafe is one of the few in Chiang Mai that roasts their own beans, which is a clear sign of excellence in any city.
The owners of Omnia have travelled throughout South America to learn as much as they can about their trade, and they’ve brought it all back with them. On certain days, the cafe hosts cupping events where anyone can sample their enormous collection.
Omnia offers the full gambit of coffee drinks, as well as a few creations of their own. Whether you go with something more unique or a standard filter coffee, you are in safe hands with these pros.
Considering that Chiang Mai has only three seasons — hot, not as hot, and hot and wet — a steaming brew may not sound too appetizing at the height of the day. However, there’s no reason to wait until sundown to enjoy a cup of joe when you have Graph Cafe’s cold brew coffee.
Unlike in European cities, coffee in Chiang Mai is usually made “to go.” Graph cafe is small, so you will be better off grabbing a bottle to drink on the road, but if you manage to find a seat, I highly recommend trying their nitro cold brew.
Cold brew is already known for its smoothness, but this nitro brew tastes like it was infused with velvet. It is so smooth that even Ryan Gosling would be taking notes. After one sip you’ll completely forget about the heat.
Local coffee, hand-roasted coffee, cold brew coffee. Check, check and check! Now it’s time for something with a little more flare.
Nimmanian Club is a combination of two of my most favorite things in this world: coffee and mixology. The baristas at this cafe are all trained and experienced mixologists who have applied their unique skillset to bring you unexpected and exciting coffee concoctions.
With each drink, these guys try hard to break the standard coffee mold, and their hard work is readily apparent. Venture over to Nimmanian for when you’re ready to step outside the box, and enjoy the show.
Whether you need to pop open your laptop for a few quick work emails, or you just need a spot to chill out with some wifi, Impresso Bar is the place to be. It is bigger than most other coffee shops you will find in downtown Chiang Mai, and its layout is spacious.
You’ll notice right away that Impresso Bar is very different than other coffee shops in the city, as it has no main bar or any bar at all. Instead, all the baristas at Impresso are roamers, picking up and delivering orders on the fly.
Along the back wall are a few beefy looking espresso machines, which the baristas work with expertise. Seek out Impresso Bar when you’re ready for a little wifi and relaxation with your fresh coffee.
There is no other city quite like Chiang Mai. It is a booming and bustling city, but it is also a “must visit” for any coffee lover.
You can find out a little more about the coffee shops that I visited here, but don’t be afraid to blaze your own trail. For some general travel tips, check out Culture with Travel’s travel recommendations.
Coffee and Travel is what it’s all about for Alex. His passions take brewing and sampling food and coffee from all corners of the globe. Say Hello to him on Twitter or catch up on his caffeinated ramblings over at HomeGrounds.