Review: Coffee Gallery at Crystal Design Center (CDC) in Bangkok

Recently, a Thai friend took me out for dinner to Crystal Design Center (CDC) in Bangkok, Thailand. A stunning design complex in a hi-so (high-society) neighborhood of Bangkok, CDC is one of those places that looks beautiful but much of what it has to offer is a disappointment.

Case in point, Coffee Gallery an extremely hi-so independent coffee shop, it’s absolutely gorgeous inside and out, and looks like the quintessential cafe. But the coffee is burnt and bitter and the food overpriced. Apart from the atmosphere, in fact, there’s absolutely no reason to eat or drink or sit here and that’s a shame.

Where is Coffee Gallery? – It is located right in the middle of Crystal Design Center (CDC), at 1420/1 Praditmanutham Road, Klongjun in Bangkok. Coffee Gallery is an independent coffee shop, that’s very large and stunningly designed. The problem is, it’s surrounded by at least ten other coffee shops and, if their products are any better than Coffee Gallery, it may not be around for long.

Atmosphere at Coffee Gallery – The coffee shop is gorgeous. The designer kitted it out in stereotypical perfect American coffee shop detail. Plush overstuffed sofas and chairs, cool tables, warm lighting, high ceilings and hardwood floors – it’s enormous glass windows overlook a stunning courtyard and a beautiful pool with fountains. At night, when it’s all lit up – absolutely gorgeous.

The counter too is a large area, that’s perfectly designed. Large glass cases stuffed with cake, lots of ‘coffee shop product’ too sell, and a big menu on the wall, so you can see what your choices are.

Coffee and Cakes at Coffee Gallery – This is where you start to be let down. When we arrived at Coffee Gallery, my friend ordered a hot chocolate and I decided on the caramel latte.

We ordered the large sizes, although the prices were high, and a slice of blueberry cheescake each, and went to take a seat in a cozy separated ‘alley’ area, with overstuffed sofas and chairs overlooking the pool.

It was 9pm when we arrived, so it was lovely sitting in the warmly lit cafe looking out through floor to ceiling windows onto a lit pool with fountains.

The waitress brought our drinks and the first thing I noticed was, even though I’d ordered mine ‘extra hot’, my glass felt cold to the touch.

Imagine my surprise when I took a sip and it almost burnt my mouth. The glasses Coffee Gallery uses are actually plastic ‘thermos’ glasses, which keep the surface of the glass cool to the touch but keep the liquid hot. Yes, I really did love that.

However, from the first sip, I knew I hated Coffee Gallery’s coffee. Bitter and burnt tasting, the ‘caramel latte’ barely tasted of caramel. My friend said her hot chocolate was ‘average’. The cheesecake too was small and decidedly tasteless.

So although the style and atmosphere of the place is lovely, the actual products they serve, which let’s face it is why you go to a coffee shop, get two thumbs down.

They also serve a breakfast menu, with scrambled eggs and sausages, eggs benedict, waffles etc. But as almost every dish was 160 baht or over ($4.50) only the hi-so-and-stupid would pay that for something so average. And, as friends tell me the taste is ‘blah’, it’s even more pointless.

Prices – As for the prices at Coffee Gallery, don’t even get me started. My latte was 110 baht ($3.20), which in Bangkok is expensive for a latte and, even more expensive than Starbucks for the same size. The cake too was overpriced at 95 baht ($3.10) for a slice, I don’t pay that at my local cafe in the US, so why would I pay it in Thailand?

Overall, unless you are absolutely dying to soak up the ‘atmosphere’, I would say give Coffee Gallery at CDC a miss. After all, there are at least 10 other coffee shops within just a few hundred yards and most of them are equally beautiful and their products looked better.

Coffee Gallery is nothing more than a Starbucks-copy and, many of my readers know, I wouldn’t touch Starbucks with a 50 foot pole. So why would I bother with this place?