Shopping for Coffee on Ratanakosin Island

After the last entry about the shooting in Cole Camp, I’ve been surprised by the number of people who were directed to my blog from a variety of sources including the Sedalia (Missouri) Democrat’s website, a local newspaper.  Along the way, I’ve received messages from several people who lived in and around the town and who knew (to one degree or another) the victims.  Many thanks to all who have visited and those who have left words of support.

Part of me feels like writing another entry, particularly one just about everyday life, is a bit trivial.  But life does go on and it is for the living, so I’ll pull another entry together and, with it, try to celebrate and honor the memories of all victims of violence.

Last weekend Tawn and I headed down to the “old city” – defined as Ratanakosin Island, the heart of the original city of Krungthep – to search out some coffee. 

Last October while we had a guest in town, I had about two hours to kill while the guest was conducting an audio walking tour of the old city.  Taking a break in a small family-run coffee shop called Mari Green Coffee, I got into a conversation with the proprietor and discovered someone who takes his coffee even more seriously than I do.

He chooses only Arabica beans grown in northern Thailand and is very picky, explaining to me in detail about the noticeable difference and quality and taste from one mountain ridge to the next.  He then roasts these beans himself in small batches about once a week.  Needless to say, the coffee there was great.

Months later, having finished up a supply of beans from the US – previously I was buying these wonderful fair trade organic beans from a co-op based in Chiapas, Mexico, organized and sold by Cafe Mam – I decided on a return visit to Mari Green Coffee and support the local coffee industry.  Plus, I’m starting to realize that I need to be more selective when deciding what to bring back from the US.  Five pounds of coffee takes up a lot of space in the suitcase.

For fun, we invited our friend Bob along, since he was also in the market for some more coffee beans.  Ironically, I didn’t get a single shot of the coffee shop itself.  Will have to do that next time.  While we were waiting for the owner to prepare the coffee order, we enjoyed some banh xiao – Vietnamese rice crepes – and explored the surrounding area.

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The coffee shop is a few doors down from an old fashioned ice factory, where they take big blocks of ice, chip them, then deliver them around the city.  Tawn was a little chilly standing by the delivery truck.

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A block over we found an intense bit of graffiti, something we don’t see a lot of here in Krungthep and never so elaborate.

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Down the street across from the Tiger Temple was a tea shop (Mari Green Coffee’s competitor, I guess!) that had a huge white rabbit outside.  Tawn was born in the year of the rabbit, so a picture was inevitable.

We picked up our coffee, thanked the proprietor, and headed on with our day followed by the heady aroma of dark-roasted coffee beans.

0 thoughts on “Shopping for Coffee on Ratanakosin Island

  1. I had no idea there was coffee grown in Thailand. The aroma of freshly roasted beans is simply incredible and so enticing. Yeah – life that goes on but sometimes it just feels so unfair.

  2. Oh, I remembered we picked up some coffee beans while in Saigon. But definitely would love to try Thai coffee on my next visit to BKK! There’re too many Starbuck’s and other franchised coffee places in the Big Mango! LOL

  3. I bet that ice vendor has to work FAST before all of his profit “melts away”…heheheh.I love the giant rabbit!! I am trying to think of where the “old city” is…I will have to ask my husband to refresh my memory.

  4. Ooh I’ve never had coffee from Thailand before. How is it compared to the coffee that you brought from the US? I used to always get local grown coffee when I lived in Indonesia. It definitely beats the Sumatran blends that they have at Starbucks here in the US.

  5. Wow, I had never thought about growing coffee in Thailand but with the tropical weather and good, healthy soil, I’m sure they probably make some pretty good coffee 🙂

  6. That graffiti IS intense. Very intense. I think I may be a little frightened.I’m the year of the rabbit too! Luckiest sign of the zodiac.

  7. Go to India  Go to India  Go to India ; actually go to south India. When you drink the coffee there, you will swear off other coffees. Even I drank some there and thought it was incredible, and I never drink coffee.These Vietnamese crepes that you talked about, are they sweet? Or they made with rice  and lentil flour? You didn’t take a picture of that?

  8. wow, you know, I never knew Thailand grew coffee. We’re both coffee whores and think you should convince Nespresso to offer a Thai coffee to their menu offerings of capsules in North America.

  9. @AppsScraps – @TheCheshireGrins – @Rm2046 – @curry69curry – @ElusiveWords – The beans that are grown here are quite good, but there are two factors that have kept it from developing into as large an industry as, say, in Indonesia.  The first is the relative inconsistency of the terroir – some plots are excellent, others sketchier.  That’s one reason I have started buying from this particular shop owner; he seems to really know his way around the different farms.  The second reason is the lack of local appreciation for really good coffee.  Nescafe is considered a delicacy here and local street coffee is really strong (but not really good) and really sweet.  Kind of like good Vietnamese coffee but without the “good” part.

  10. @ZSA_MD – I realized that I have failed to give the Vietnamese crepes proper coverage, this time, the previous time I was in that corner of the city, as well as when I went to Vietnam in 2006.  The crepes are savory and made with rice flour.  They have a yellow color and turn out very crispy.  I’ll make it a point to go back and provide more detail in the future.

  11. @lcfu – The problem is, we never have any cups large enough for the big blocks of ice.  Ice cubes are so much handier!  =)@yang1815 – Savage…@secade – Yes, especially for those of us who get to have a rabbit in our lives.@Redlegsix – Oh, bad pun!  Think the Grand Palace and you’re in the old city.@murisopsis – It is the things nightmares are made of.

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