Where to enjoy Coffee in the Rai ...

I am a coffee lover, and though indulging in coffee is relatively harmless, I do consider it a vice.  Being short of vices, one has to make do.  Making my own pot of coffee, in a rather large French press, left me drinking rather too much in the past.  In an effort to reduce my intake, coffee consumption is now restricted to public venues.  That means a minimum fifty kilometer drive, oneway.

I have by no means sampled every coffee venue in the Rai, nor do I intend to.  The cheapest place for anything, including coffee, is beyond my area of interest or expertise.  Flavor, presentation, ambiance and of course convenience are highest on my list.

Since shopping usually means a stop at BigC, among other places, my coffee fix is more conveniently found there.  S & P's, Blue Cup Coffee, is my favorite and just happens to be located there, but I can make do with Black Canyon Coffee, if perchance the wife would prefer eating lunch there.  A Blue Cup cappuccino is served in a signature white ceramic coffee cup, a bit larger than most and holds its foamy head well.  That is important if one wants to enjoy that unique cappuccino experience.  Neither of these two places have any ambiance to speak of, so it is down to flavor, presentation and mainly convenience.

The two main, Thai coffee brands, are Doi Chang and Wa Wee, both with their own coffee shops in Chiang Rai.  Doi Chang is arguable the better tourist or farang location, only a short walk from the Night Bazar area. 

Doi Chang is located on a convenient corner, in an older, slightly rundown building.  The decor wisely uses that to advantage with a rustic, relaxed feel.  The location, tight quarters, mismatched furnishings, a little garden/pond area at the entrance, as well as a couple of antique computers, create a place that seems to attract farangs.

Personally I like the muffins, and the food and pastry selection appears appetizing from what I have seen, but the cappuccino is served in a smallish glass cup with a brownish foam that I personally find unattractive and unappetizing.  At least it is not a paper cup, but neither is it a proper ceramic cup.  If you want to be among other farangs you will overlook the coffee presentation and substandard foam.  The cats, that sometimes make a leisurely perusal of the premises, (a Persian and a Siamese if I am not mistaken) add a homey touch for animal lovers.

Wa Wee is also located on a corner, but the parking area out front, can only be accessed by a oneway road not far from the famous Ha Yak intersection.  While convenient for bank and government workers in that area, it is not as convenient for many farangs.  Unlike Doi Chang, this place is very modern with a more Thai clientele.  Kind of a Thai version of Starbucks with clean modern lines, plenty of space and comfy seating options, that seem to appeal to a more upmarket Thai crowd.  Even the computers, Apple iMacs, say modern and trendy. 

The large cappuccino is served in a brown ceramic mug, which again, I prefer to a glass cup.  The food or snack selection did not appeal to me and the (order & pay) first, reminded me of Starbucks in Bangkok.  Not necessarily a bad thing.  The presence of Thais in office attire is in stark contrast to the sometimes colorful farangs one encounters at Doi Chang.  One can be fooled into thinking one is in a much bigger city.

Oddly enough, if a solitary outing on the Phantom leads me into town, the chances are you will find me at Doi Chang.  The reason being that more often than not, I will bump into someone I know or meet someone new.  A brief spontaneous encounter is something that suits me.  More typically I am with my wife when in town and less inclined to strike up a conversation with strangers so will be found in S & P nursing my favorite Blue Cup cappuccino.

The above mentioned locations are all located on my map.

(As an edit to this post we now have Starbucks and a few other coffee options at the new Mall.)

As of 2012 Chivit Thamma Da is my favorite place for coffee in the Rai.