A few days ago, I made my second trip to the newly renovated Central Ladprao mall in Bangkok, Thailand. After a few hours of shopping, a Thai friend and I stumbled upon a new branch of Doi Chaang coffee in the basement of the mall. Beautifully designed, with comfortable chairs and incredible coffee and tea drinks,this branch of Doi Chaang is going to be one of the top cafes at the mall.
What is Doi Chaang? – A few years ago, Doi Chaang was just a small Thailand coffee grower run by the Akha hilltribe people. An independent business that was barely sustainable, Doi Chaang developed a relationship with a Canadian business man who then set up a company in Canada paid for 100% by his family, and with 50% ownership going to the Akah. Nowadays, Doi Chaang is not only one of the best coffee growers and coffee distributors in Thailand (and Canada, I hear), this jointly-owned Thai-Canadian company is the owner of several Doi Chaang coffeehouses in various towns and cities around the country.
At any Doi Chaang coffee house, you’ll get a huge choice of tea, coffee and hot chocolate drinks, sandwiches, muffins, cakes and can also buy packaged coffee. Doi Chaang is also the producer of civet coffee, the coffee that passes through the digestive tract of the wild civet, and is then harvested for its incredible taste.
Doi Chaang believes in creating sustainable living opportunities, so all of their coffee beans are Fair Trade and beans are bought at a high price, with100% of the proceeds going back to the Akha tribes that grow them.
Location of Doi Chaang at Central Ladprao – Easy to find, Doi Chaang is on the ground floor (basement) level of the mall. It’s at the end of the building closest to Central department store, and is right outside the indoor doorway of the B2S bookstore, so you can’t miss it.
Coffee at Doi Chaang – I’m picky about my lattes. So picky I’ve been known to walk out of a coffee shop after having taken just one sip, leaving the still brimming full cup of coffee behind. So, when I try a new coffee shop, my Thai friends are decidedly nervous. With Doi Chaang, they didn’t have to be.
At Doi Chaang in Central Ladprao, as soon as the barrista brought my latte to the table, I knew it was going to be superb. No bitter smell, no weird aroma and upon adding a little bit of sugar, mixing it in and taking a tentative sniff, I jcould tell the taste would be incredible.
The latte itself was smooth, rich and slid down my throat like velvet cream. Half of it was already gone when I turned to my friend and said, “This is the best latte I’ve ever had in Thailand”. Meanwhile, she was busy guzzling her hot chocolate (she doesn’t drink coffee) with a look of such rapture on her face, I burst out laughing.
To say the Doi Chaang latte was “the best coffee in Thailand” was no hyperbole, in fact it was an understatement. Many Thai coffee houses don’t know how to make a real latte, so it arrives with too little milk, no foam and a bitter taste. But this one, oh this one, I could have drunk three.
The barristas at Doi Chaang, too, are lovely. While they don’t speak English (which is normal throughout Thailand, even in Bangkok) they try their darndest to help, and all with the loveliest smiles.
Doi Chaang at Central Ladprao also has free Wi-Fi. All you have to do is purchase a drink and ask the barrista for the password.
Since my initial visit to Doi Chaang I’ve already been back a second time, and am on my way there again tomorrow. With prices around 35-40 baht ($1.15-$1.34) cheaper than at Starbucks, and with none of the bitter aftertaste Starbucks coffee always has, unless I’m so far away from Doi Chaang it’s impossible to get there, this new Doi Chaang coffee shop is going to be my new home away from home.
If you’re interested in learning about the story of Doi Chaang coffee and how Akha hill tribes are benefitting from growing it, watch this short three-part documentary about Doi Chaang. It’s only 30 minutes long but, once you’ve watched it, like me, Doi Chaang will be one of the only coffee shops in Bangkok you ever go to.