The quaint city of Luang Prabang is one best explored on foot or by bike. The Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, and the old building lining them make for a scenic cruise around town that is bound to render some great vacation photos. As you go about your day, you’re guarenteed to find a multitude of colorful shops, lively markets, and numerous captivating temples – a postcard worthy town indeed.
After exploring the undulating city, the prospect of a cool drink and a snack is appealing. The city is now full of charming cafs - one such example is Joma Coffee. Describing themselves as a slice of North American café culture in Southeast Asia, Joma Coffee is popular amongst sightseers, tourists, and the traveler that can’t seem to dodge those pesky emails.
Housed in an old traditional wooden building along the bend of the Nam Khan River, the shop is cozy, warm, and makes liberal use of woodwork both on its ground and second floor. The most popular spot in the shop isn’t in the shop per say, but rather on its front porch or on the second floor balcony that affords a great view of the river below.
The café prides itself in using 100 percent locally grown and processed coffee from Southern Laos – the Bolaven Plateau to be exact. Full-bodied and strong, it pairs well with the café’s cakes and bakes – you can also ask for their coffee in decaf. Besides coffee, their other beverages such has the hot green tea latte I had are also a welcomed treat, especially when during the rainy season. The café also has a variety of delicious sandwiches, breakfast items, and even a selection of homemade ice cream to cool off.
You may have come for the tasty fare, but there’s more to Joma than what meets the eye. Starting its story way back in 1996, the shop first opened its doors in Vientiane, branding themselves as a fresh and healthy bakery café. Now boasting 12 stores, the brand has since expanded its reaches to Vietnam and Cambodia, with plans to open in other parts of Southeast Asia in the future.
The best treat of all is when you find out the shop donates 10 percent of its earnings to multiple charities and NGOs, including Hagar International. The brand strives to to improve lives by providing job training and employment opportunities to help disadvantaged people and victims of human rights abuse so that they may have a better future.
Sure, you may have stumbled upon the café in search for a drink after your trip around town, but what you’ve come to is more than just an establishment serving hot coffee – this is one place that helps shape futures, and that’s sweeter than anything on their menu.