Warm smells of freshly roasted coffee man ate from the churning roaster as Fah Veratumpoonsawat, one of the three founders of Brave Roasters, explains, “This is our last batch of Jom Thong for today, one of the two types of beans we use in our signature blend, Flag Bearer Espresso.” She scoops a handful of roasted coffee beans and lifts them to my nose. I take in the toasted hazelnut-like scent daintily, but with pleasure. “Jom Thong has a nice acidity, and Papae gives the blend body and a sweet aftertaste,” says Fah. “Our concept is to improve the Thai coffee scene, to make it well-known worldwide. That’s why it’s important for us to use Thai beans in our signature blend.”
The art of roasting coffee happens at One Ounce for Onion on Ekamai Soi 12, a collaborative fashion café between Brave Roasters and the clothing retailer, Onion. Behind the coffee cup, each of the three founders infuses their own expertise to perfect the coffee they put forward.
House Chanmantana, the guitarist of the indie-rock band Slur, is the brains behind the hip retail side of the café. It was House’s idea to combine his online clothing and accessories store with Brave Roasters, so that they could open their very own café. As an avid coffee drinker, he visits roasters abroad to keep an eye on global trends for the team.
Tay Witvasutti’s sharp sense of smell and taste guided him to roast coffee. These skills give him a distinctive edge in sourcing beans and developing new brews. He learned the basics during his apprenticeship at Happy Espresso in Chiang Mai and mastered his trade with every different whiff he came across.
Using her background in chemistry, Fah frequently tweaks the roasting formulas. “Coffee roasting is like a mixture of art and science,” she says. The brave roasters must trust their senses, knowing when to end the roast by the smell of sugar caramelising or a bean about to burn.
The I+D Style Café X Brave Roasters in Siam Center is their mainstream retail shop and café, which offers a wide range of coffees. Other than their signature filtered coffee and cold brews, try sparkling black—an espresso with sparkling water (B120)—or coffee beer float, comprised of root beer with vanilla ice cream and espresso (B160).
The Onion Store: Aree, on the other hand, takes an alternative concept. It encourages customers to ditch their regular Americano and try something different off the petite and always temporary menu. “To learn about coffee, you must open your mind,” says Tay.
With a stir of curiosity, I order their weekly creative coffee—lemongrass- and cinnamon-infused iced coffee with basil syrup (B130). At the minimalist wooden coffee counter, Tay walks me through the steps of crafting this coffee elixir. As weird as it might sound, the fresh fragrance of lemongrass complements the espresso beautifully, and the sweet anise flavour in the basil balances the bitter notes of the roast.
The Brave Roasters are a group of young, fearless individuals who roll up their sleeves and pour their hearts into coffee. Fah urges all city residents to get involved with the growing scene, too. “Drink more coffee, and there will be more coffee,” she says.