Coffee in Bangkok

Sage words at Phil Coffee

While some parts of Asia have been slow to warm to coffee, Bangkok is a noted exception. In this huge and chaotic city, coffee shops are quite literally everywhere and they’re patronised by a solid mix of locals and expats alike.

Of course, if you’re looking for a more authentic local experience, you can try a bubbling condensed milk coffee served by one of the ubiquitous street vendors (dear friend Pucci Girl, who lived in Bangkok for a time says this is best described as a “warm drink”)  but Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband were looking for their preferred style – coffee as Australians would know it.

Greedy Girl intended to try her usual shtick, of Googling “Australian coffee in (insert place)” but, this trip, she didn’t need to. Sitting down for breakfast in the excellent executive lounge at the Bangkok Marriott Sukhumvit, she spied a local tourism magazine. It was their Coffee in Bangkok issue. Huzzah!

This particular area of Bangkok is a bit out of the way. Having said that, it’s still teeming with people and traffic and there’s no real main centre of the city as such. Sukhumvit is one of the major arteries in Bangkok and navigated by the alley or “Soi” number. We were up on Sukhumvit 57 in the Thonglor district of the city – noted for shopping, nightlife, dental tourism (See the blog Dental tourism: 10 days in Bangkok here) and, ta da, coffee!

The guidebook recommended a number of spots to try, all within “easy” walking distance of the hotel. Greedy Girl uses the dreaded quotation marks because walking anywhere in Bangkok is not particularly easy. The pavements are cracked, in some cases non-existent and the swarms of motorbike taxis that service the city quite often trundle along the pedestrian paths. One is advised to tread very carefully.

Also, crossing the road in Bangkok is a potentially life-threatening experience. Just because you’re on a marked pedestrian crossing, don’t bank on the cars or bikes speeding towards you on stopping, or even slowing down for that matter. Try to pick a gap in the traffic and hot foot it across. Stick closely to groups of locals who have much more experience in navigating the streets. And remember, a car sitting at a red light is permitted to turn left if they think it’s safe (perhaps even when they don’t). Apparently Bangkok has an incredibly high incidence of road death and trauma, one of the highest in the world. Greedy Girl doesn’t doubt it for a second.

But she digresses … Just a few blocks up from the hotel is Sukhumvit 63 and the location (nominally) of many of the cafes we visited during our 10 day visit. When one is researching addresses in Bangkok, it pays to take particular note of any little diversions or side streets one needs to navigate. Street addresses are not as we’d traditionally expect; Google maps will be your best friend and, if you don’t have data available on your phone, take pictures of the relevant portions of maps to refer to during your trek.

Ink and Lion

The first cafe we found (and by far the easiest to find) was Ink and Lion. This was less than 10 minutes’ walk down Sukhumvit 63 (from the main road/local BTS train station) and located back in a little forecourt of car parking, restaurants and shops.

This really became our home away from home for this trip. The coffee is made with exceptional care and attention to detail – great if you’re not in a rush. The co-owners of the cafe studied and worked in San Francisco and brought their coffee addiction back home with them. As a result, their English is really very good and their coffee is, well, sublime. It’s smooth, rounded and full of body without being over the top.

There’s not a huge amount of seating; a big communal table and a handful of tables for two, but it’s a very comfortable place to sit, with free wi-fi and great indie tunes blasting out. These guys know their stuff and gave us the lowdown on lots of other experiences nearby. They’re closed Wednesdays – which was probably just as well for this blog because it forced us to seek further afield. Great value, great experience.

Coffee in Bangkok

Barista at work – Ink and Lion

Coffee in Bangkok

Beautifully presented, smooth and rich tasting coffees

Phil Coffee House

The little house rules sign (pictured above, left) comes from this extraordinary place on Sukhumvit 61. The coffee shop is located in a bungalow which can be found down a reasonably long side alley off the main Soi – look for the signage from that road.

It’s one of those places you’d never find out walking. We’d been alerted to it by the team at Ink and Lion. These guys are equally serious about their coffee (and they roast beans from all over the world on the premises). It was rather stronger and more robust than Ink and Lion, although one presumes the quality of the coffee changes depending on which beans make up the house blend at any given time.

There’s free wi-fi (just look for the little signs dotted around the room) and it’s a very comfortable spot to sit and sip. Lots of locals and expats were all paying their laptops and tablets close attention. It’s definitely worth a stop on a coffee odyssey in the area.

Coffee in Bangkok

The interior at Phil

Coffee in Bangkok

A robust piccolo caffe latte


On Sukhumvit 63, this is a fair walk down from Ink and Lion – about 15-20 minutes. It’s located in a small, open arcade of shops and it’s helpful to look on Google maps to see what buildings are on the main street to keep a look out for where to turn.

The Sois off Sukhumvit 63 are divided by the name “Ekkamai” – the cafe is between Ekkamai 26 and 28. It’s a light, bright and appealing cafe with a huge range of coffee drinks (to cater for a wide variety of tastes) as well as the style we like and there’s also a small food menu. The partners in the business have roots in Australia; our friendly barista on this particular morning grew up in Sydney and returned to Thailand six months earlier to start the business with her boyfriend.

Our standard orders of double espresso and piccolo latte shortly arrived at the table, with the customary sparkling water presented with the espresso in a large wine glass – a nice touch. The beans are bought rather than roasted on the premises, but the barista told us she was hoping to install a roaster on the first floor of the building in the not-too-distant future. A smooth, well balanced blend of coffee, with just the right amount of oomph; this was a great place to hang out. The cafe is quite small, so it could be tricky to get a seat in peak times, but well worth seeking out.

Coffee in Bangkok

The light, bright, white interior

Coffee in Bangkok

Perfectly balanced, smooth coffee

One ounce for onion

This is also, nominally, off Sukhumvit 63, but around Ekkamai 12. You really need to be on your game to find this; it’s a small coffee shop tacked on to a hipster boutique called Onion, in the middle of a residential zone.

There’s no signage visible from the end of the street and it’s not immediately obvious that there are, in fact, any commercial premises in the laneway at all. We’d almost expired in the hot sun, walking around the block when we came upon it by sheer luck – pay very close attention to what Google maps tells you, if you’re intent on finding it.

There’s a bit of style here – the coffee is presented on its own branded paddle (see the picture at the top of this post) but the brew itself is on the weak side. There are also very few seats inside – some stools along the front window and a bench seat. The rest of the seating is under a covered veranda outside.

Casa Lapin

This was in the opposite direction from our hotel, on Sukhumvit 26. If that sounds like a long way from Sukhumvit 57, don’t fret – odd numbers are on one side of the street, even on the other and they don’t exactly tally up. Sukhumvit 26 was about a 15 minute walk from the hotel.

We took the opportunity of crossing over the main road by using the Thong Lo train station overpass and the footpath on the other side of the road was wider and generally better maintained. The cafe is in a very groovy-looking building, about five minutes’ walk down #26, on the left hand side. Keep an eagle eye out for the sign because it’s set back slightly from the footpath (such as it is).

The space was apparently designed by its architect owner who decided to learn the mysteries of coffee, not being able to find a decent cup each morning. He’s done well; this is a very nice spot to sit with a variety of seating – some deep sofas, various tables and stools – and the coffee was perfectly drinkable. Not as smooth as some others like Ink and Lion or Kaizen but still very enjoyable.

The cafe isn’t particularly far from the huge Emporium shopping centre so the location is a bonus if you’re looking to top up the caffeine buzz to fuel more shopping. There’s also another branch on Sukhumvit 49 – further down from the Dental Hospital Bangkok (a link to the blog on that experience can be found above), but we didn’t venture down there this trip.

Coffee in Bangkok

Inside at Casa Lapin

Coffee in Bangkok

Very acceptable standard of coffee here

We were blown away by how good the coffee was and the fact that it wasn’t outrageously expensive. That may well be the case for some locals, but we saw plenty of them taking the opportunity to sit down and enjoy some brews that would stand up as excellent coffees anywhere in the world.

Best coffee in Bangkok – 2017 update

D’Ark by Philip Di Bella

We happened to walk by this spot in the Piman 49 shopping centre on Sukhumvit 49. It’s a large cafe with seating downstairs, upstairs and outside. The menu isn’t promising from an Italian coffee lover’s perspective, replete with images of gaudy-looking coffee confections but we pulled up chairs to a bench table looking out the window and ordered our standard.

And here’s what you get, when you ask for a piccolo and a double espressso. It was pretty sensational, beautifully rounded and robust. Another find!

Best coffee in Bangkok

Great looking, great tasting coffee

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