Inspiration for lovers of interior design and branding
Updated January 2019
After leaving Chiang Mai I knew, my Instagram feed would never be the same again (unless I come back here, which I did eventually). I’ve encountered such a vibrant community of coffee and design folks pushing each other to be innovative and cutting-edge - and this is true for both the design of the food and drinks menu as it is for the interior design. Chiang Mai’s creative coffee bubble is one that is active online as much as offline. While coffee shops bring exactly the right playground for photographers and design lovers to the city of Chiang Mai, Instagram is where it’ll all be showcased. Some great photographers from Chiang Mai to follow on Instagram are @bankpyt, @torthanit and @seandalt.
I have already put together a list of the best specialty coffee shops in Chiang Mai. In this article I want to focus on specialty coffee shops that apart from brewing great coffee have put emphasis on interior design and branding. Here’s which cafés to visit if you want to be part of this creative community.
The Barisotel by The Baristro
Thanit Suvanish, founder of The Barisotel by The Baristro, is revolutionizing Thailand’s coffee scene one coffee shop at a time. With four stores opened in Chiang Mai and one recently opening in Ban Bang Phra near Bangkok, he is spreading his love for design paired with good coffee all over the country. Apart from an impressive following on Instagram, Thanit has a hand for unique flavour combinations and innovative interior concepts that he expresses not lastly through an extensive signature drink menu to be found in all of his cafés. Be prepared for Charcoal Latte Creamcheese, Pink Panther and B Americano.
The Barisotel by The Baristro, a space almost entirely kept in white, is housing a boutique hotel and spacious coffee shop in the Nimman area. Thanit loves Minimalism and strongly considered how all elements would interact with each other in the café. Bouquets of flowers and single green leaves set accents here and there, as do the wooden legs topped with marble table boards. Otherwise the white walls and tiles set the perfect plain background for photographing the sophisticated drinks and deserts. If you feel inspired and would like to hold a private photo shooting here, it is possible for a small fee. The second floor is predestined for this. Be prepared for crowds of tourists bringing cameras and all sorts of accessories though as this location is definitely an Instagram favourite.
7/2 Soi 9 Nimmanhaemin Road, Chiang Mai
The Baristro at Ping River
The latest addition to Chiang Mai’s Baristro family is The Baristro at Ping River, which opened up in January 2018 in the North of Chiang Mai. Its bare concrete walls harmonize well with the vintage feel emitted by some of the objects placed around the open space. The counter and coffee equipment are all too familiar as they come in the same immaculate white as seen at the Nimman location. What really makes The Baristro coffee shops stand out for me is that the design appears effortless and simple, and yet every detail is set up to fit in the picture as a whole. The location by the water guarantees a relaxed coffee break, whether you decide to stay inside or make use of the outside garden.
Address: 62 Patan Road, Chiang Mai
Transit Number 8
Transit Number 8 was inaugurated in December 2018 and is another incredibly sleek project by Thanit Suvanish, the founder of The Baristro. His fable for minimalist and white-washed design found a new outlet with this coffee shop located in a residential neighbourhood close to Chiang Mai’s Airport. The proximity to the city’s major transportation hub certainly served as an inspiration for the ‘transit’ theme. From the staircase that resembles an escalator to the rooftop window allowing a glimpse at the sky, every detail has been carefully planned. The sound of the passing planes makes it feel, as if one was sitting at the airport of the future. You’ll find a selection of medium and dark roast coffee in the grinders to make your stop-over here as delicious at it is eye-pleasing. Being a transit passenger has never felt more elegant.
Address: 56/19 Soi Muban Khumkhon Phing 2, Chiang Mai
Cottontree Coffee Roasters
Cottontree Coffee Roasters was born in 2015, when the couple Ton and Fai merged the English translation of their Thai names into one while pondering over how to call their first coffee shop and roastery. The warehouse structure housing Cottontree is based in Green Hill Place, a condominium behind Maya shopping mall in the Nimman area. What makes Cottontree stand out is the industrial feel coupled with warm wooden tones and features. All furniture is hand made by Fai’s father. Ton and Fai wanted to create a space to breathe and unwind, hence you’ll find high ceilings and plenty of green plants. The roaster occupies a designated space behind glass windows in black frames. And it wouldn’t be a Chiang Mai coffee shop if there wasn’t a nice selection of photogenic signature drinks on the menu along with your regular espresso or filter based favourites.
45/38 M.5 T. Chang Phueak, Chiang Mai
Maled Coffee Roasters
Maled Coffee Roasters is a coffee shop and roastery run by Fuu Kao Paanratee and located close to Chiang Mai University. She created an otherworldly white space with black interior setting visual accents on bare walls. It’s minimalism at its best! Despite the combination of black and white, Fuu wasn’t going for an elegant look. She wanted Maled to be simple and practical. This showcases in the design of a rather pragmatic seating area with high functionality. Signature drinks such as the ‘Jelly Black’ and ‘Blue Moon’ are adding another dark twist to the heavenly cubicle.
18, Soi Sanam Bin Kao 8, Chiang Mai
Yellow Crafts - Home Brewing
Yellow Crafts is a coffee shop that specializes in drip coffee, homemade soy milk and all things yellow. From pumpkin lattes to egg dishes or orange juice with filter coffee you’ll find that the menu is as unique as the architecture and design of this café. Behind a giant glass door lie all white walls and floors, metal legs holding concrete table tops and a bit of yellow here and there to seamlessly complete the colour palette. Consistency is at work here! What can I say, eccentric is the new cosy.
257/29 Mu Ban Dao Dueng Soi 2, Chiang Mai
Affordable & chic accommodation in Chiang Mai
ONCE MORE Hostel
ONCE MORE is located in the old town of Chiang Mai and is the perfect starting point for café explorations in the city. In fact, you can start right here, as a café and craft beer bar are part of the hostel. Two pod-style dorm rooms host 12 guests each. The dorm rooms are designed in a way to offer privacy despite sharing the room with so many people. The capsules with curtains are spacious, include two plugs and a little shelf for personal belongings. Lockers are located outside of the room and there are separate bathroom areas. I recommend to stay in one of the private rooms though. They are very affordable (between 800 and 1100 Baht per night) and the simple yet comfortable design will really add to your Chiang Mai experience. I found the downstairs café area to be airy and inviting. I could tell that the owners have a background in architecture and interior design. Expect contemporary design coupled with comfort and cosyness . Bare concrete walls - check, plant pots - check and lamps hanging from the walls above each table - check. When it comes to the café menu ONCE MORE is going with the trend and has created innovative signature drinks mixed with coffee or Matcha. The coffee is from Laos and it’s not specialty grade, but the barista Blacky knows her stuff. Check here for the latest rates and promotions.
96/2 Ratchiangsaen Rd, Chiang Mai, Thailand