Before traveling anywhere, I like setting aside time to research points of interest, restaurants, and of course, coffee shops that would be worth visiting within the span of a couple days. Most of the time, it isn’t all that difficult to map out a course of trajectory that would maximize the number of places I could visit in a day, but in Bangkok however, that simply can’t be done.
In a city of 8.3 million and counting, it’s all too easy to get sidetracked by all the sights, sounds, glittering buildings, and wafting aromas. Also, it’s big – like, really big, and there’s only so much area you can cover in a day. Not to mention, you either feel as if you’re walking through air made of hot soup, or being pelted with bullet-sized raindrops left, right, and center, especially in the middle of July. This concoction of distractions and unexpected climatal anomalies however, also makes Bangkok a fertile breeding ground of delightful spontaneous finds – take for example, the first morning I spent in Bangkok.
As I was making my way to Lumpini Park, passing by the high rises of Silom and bobbing and weaving my way through the morning crowd, the sky decided it was as good a time as any to open up and bless the city with a shower of rain. Ducking into the nearest building I could get to, I found myself in Sathorn City Tower’s subterranean food court that was already buzzing with activity.
In my experience, food courts are generally a great place to eat, but are not the place to get coffee. Food court coffee, in my mind, is synonymous with 3-in-1 sachets or day old watered-down Americanos. Imagine my shock when there at the end of the sea of plastic chairs sat a gleaming Kees van der Westen espresso machine that almost looked out of place in the busy food court.
Minimal Coffee certainly had something going for them. Managed by Bottomless Espresso Bar in Nonthaburi, an intimate cafe and importer of the aformentioned brand of espresso machine, Minimal Coffee is completely unassuming if not for the machine on proud display. No fancy fraps or sweetened blends here, Minimal understood the art of doing something simple properly and only served the tried and tested classics – and boy did they have it down to a science.
Favoring a light roast of Brazilian, Lao, and Indonesian coffee, and a dark roast of the same combination sans the Indonesian beans, Minimal Coffee made one of the best lattes I had ever had in all my travels. Decadent and creamy with a rich coffee base unlike any other, it was gone before I knew it. I couldn’t believe coffee this good and of this quality could be found in an ordinary food court. Was this normal in Bangkok? Was this the standard of a coffee-obsessed city? Were the food courts back home doing something wrong? Whatever it was, the coffee was nothing short of magical.
Minimal Coffee Roasters could very well be one of the best serendipitous finds I’ve ever had in all my travels. Redefining my idea of food court coffee, I can only hope that this is the sort of change that’ll sweep through malls and offices all over Asia – but that probably won’t be the case. After all, that standard of quality and attention to detail can’t be easy to keep up with. With all that being said, I decidedly returned the next day for another latte, and this time I was not coerced by the rain.