By: Kim Waddoup
To some, it is essential to be consumed within minutes of waking, to others
it’s a ritual at a particular part of the day to be enjoyed and savoured. Whatever
your choice, coffee is a large part of our lives, with coffee consumption
growing worldwide at 17% with a staggering 2.25 billion cups being consumed
daily. The Asia Pacific is showing the largest growth with a growing consumer base coupled with local supply. Just 20 years ago, coffee addicts in Thailand basically had a choice of Kafae Boran or instant coffee but today there is reportedly more than 8,000 coffee shops now operating and a per-person consumption of 300 cups per year worth THB.36 billion and rising. The premium coffee segment is expected to double in size within 5 years while the mass market will grow 2-3 times.
Whilst big chains have jumped in to capitalise on this fast-growing market (with
many new players poised to join them) competition is fierce, forcing smaller
brands and individual shops to specialise as high-end coffee shops. ‘High-end’
does not necessarily result in boutique venues with high prices as we are
seeing multi-level expansion throughout Thailand. Pattaya and especially
Jomtien, is particularly well provided by a range of innovative coffee shops and
we will be reviewing our favourites shortly.
Before we start on these individual reports lets first talk about coffee! There
are many essential factors necessary to create a good cup of coffee; first the
choice and origin of the coffee beans, the grinder, the water, the coffee
machine and of course the skill of the barista. All these factors come into play
to produce a coffee to be savoured. Also to note is that, due to the popularity
of ‘iced’ coffee drinks, a majority of blends are stronger to ensure flavour in
these iced variants.
From a traditional coffee machine, there are nine, primary espresso-based
drinks. These are Espresso, Ristretto, Lungo, Macchiato, Cappuccino, Café
Latte, Flat White, Americano and Cortado. Drinking coffee is now creating
trends with a vast variety of supplementary additions including different kinds of milk and syrups. Thailand has it’s own peculiarities with a vast range of iced coffees further complementing the choice.
In coffee circles tasting and describing coffee is as advanced and often as
‘inventive’ as tasting wine. In my tastings I look for 5 key points; Sweetness
(natural taste from the beans), Acidity (does the coffee present a crispness or juiciness or excessive acidity), Mouthfeel, Balance and general flavour. In
addition, I look for temperature (coffee can also be too hot) and for filter/grind
remnants. Each cup of coffee should be a celebration of life and nature!