Coffee Culture in Bangkok

P.C: Lhong Tou Cafe, Bangkok, Facebook 

Coffee was discovered centuries ago in Ethiopia, and slowly grew into a cultural phenomenon globally. While Bangkok would not be the first-place to spring to mind when one thinks of coffee, it certainly has created its own style and finesse, and has embraced caffeine with open arms.

From traditional coffee shops serving Kafae Boran (ancient coffee) to the new commercial coffee image created by coffee companies such as Starbucks, Thai people haven’t lost their taste for an invigorating cup of freshly brewed coffee.

 Ice cubes in the coffee, the supplement brings a bit of a culture shock for the travellers. They cannot compete with the flamboyance and contemplate, do ice cubes really matter? Ultimately, they do, and Thai people are passionate about it.

Let’s have a look at some of the Thai coffee traditions.

What style of coffee do Bangkokians prefer?

Although in old days, calorie-packed sweet Kafae Boran, made with sweetened condensed milk, and cream were popular, these days Bangkokians are embracing café culture wholeheartedly. Perhaps, it is far more likely to find an espresso or macchiato on the menu. Whether you are rich or poor, you can still drink coffee in this country.

 The iced coffee Oliang – “O” which means black and “Liang” which means cold, is the popular traditional choice for street-style coffee lovers in Bangkok. This sweet drink got so popular beyond Thai borders in places such as America, that it has its own Wikipedia page.     


Bangkokians in recent years have helped boost the award-winning baristas, wielding the best internationally harvested and roasted beans, and embracing specialty coffee with great gusto. Specialty coffee is a popular choice among younger people.

What time do Bangkokians drink their coffee?

There is one simple answer to this question – Bangkokians drink coffee at any time of the day.

If you’re visiting Bangkok for the very first time, you’ll find vibrant neighbourhoods filled with traditional style coffee shops every few steps. Some traditional coffee shops are open until midnight. Be it a hot cup of coffee taken with breakfast or special cold coffee, with the condensed milk, on the go, you can find people enjoying their coffee from morning to late in the evening.

What kind of cafés can be found in Bangkok?

As consumer patterns changed over the years, so did consumer expectations. Bangkok’s coffee culture has grown exponentially over the past few years, with cafés of every colour, size, and Instagramm-able décor competing for their place within this cultural phenomenon.

Gone are the days, when the coffee shops were a place to socialize and discuss important topics such as politics, news, etc. Nowadays, coffee shops in Bangkok are swarmed by businessmen conducting meetings and students are often working and studying in the cafés. From casually understated shops to extravagant luxury experiences, you are never more than a few metres away from that excellent cup of joe.

Due to high consumer confidence that has grown over the years in Bangkok, many multinational brands have poured into the market. There is variety, both with coffee menus as well as places to consume coffee. American brand, Starbucks recently opened its 417th store in Thailand at Iconsiam shopping mall in Bangkok, known as Starbucks Reserve Chao Phraya Riverfont. It is the largest such store in Thailand with great views of the Bangkok skyline across the river, and boasting of a huge selection of commercial and craft coffee.