I might not have been able to read the sign atop the doors, but I knew a coffee shop when I saw one. It must have been the lush tree over-shadowing the outdoor tables, or the flicker of lights beyond the glass doors, or perhaps the gleam of an espresso machine that made me insist that we go inside and take a look.
My parents and I were walking around the streets of Chiang Mai when we stumbled upon a cozy little coffee shop called Pacamara. Walking in, we were greeted by the sight of two baristas working behind the counter. Shelves lined with pouches of roasted coffee from all over the world sat parallel to the brick wall of the baristas’ counter. At the back of the shop, a group of friends chatted away amicably before they soon stood up and left, leaving behind four empty cups in their wake.
After ordering an Americano, a hot café latte, and a cup of hot chocolate, my mother and I perused their shelves stocked full with not only single origins and house blends, but also syrups and coffee brewing equipment. Colorful V60’s, elegant long-necked kettles, gram scales, and the works sat prettily on the baristas’ counter and on the shelves beside the entrance.
Parking ourselves at the table at the back, we sat and had our first taste of Thai coffee. It tasted very different from the coffee I was used to drinking; a taste that was floral, quite peppery and slightly salty, but got sweeter with every sip.
Pushing through a language barrier, the friendly barista told me that they weren’t just a coffee shop but were also in fact a roastery. He told me they roasted Arabicas from Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil, and Guatemala in their Bangkok outlet. Other than coffee, he also mentioned that they were authorized sellers of the syrups and coffee equipment seen around the shop.
When I told him I thought the coffee here tasted very different from the coffee back home, his friend quipped in and said that the flavor of coffee grown in Thailand, especially in the Chiang Rai region, had notes of jasmine and tasted a little of lime. We talked a little more about the differences between coffees grown in different places before my parents and I decided it was time to continue exploring the colorful streets of Chiang Mai.
It’s always interesting to try what is essentially another person’s rendition of something familiar. The coffee tasted different, the baristas and I spoke different languages, but at the end of the day, our passion for coffee needed no translation.
Special thanks to the lovely baristas at Pacamara.