Chiang Mai has an excellent coffee culture. Expresso-type drinks are within walking distance virtually anywhere in the city. Cheap too: you can get a decent cup for ฿25 if you know a place. Excellent typically costs around ฿70. Starbucks is more expensive but you’d be a fool to go to that shop here.
The beans come from the north.
Thailand’s best-known arabica plantations are located in Chiang Dao province, which is just a three-hour drive north.
Excellent coffee shops are scattered along the way, making for a jittery-fun drive. One of them had a brochure explaining the brief history of Thai coffee.
Being a part of the Golden Triangle Chiang Rai used to grow opium. This only changed fairly recently, in the mid-’70s. The north became an exporter of the (new) “good stuff”: arabica.
Southern provinces resolved to push robusta.
Two of the estates in Chiang Rai even received the Protected Geographical Indication status in 2015, placing them side-by-side with Champagne region that we all heard so much about. One of them (Doi Chang) is pictured at the top.