With choice, attentiveness, and transparency.
After returning to Bangkok from New York, I noticed a growth in specialty coffees with quality revelation and the potential to set a new standard. The first place I visited was Red Diamond Speciality Coffee Shop and Roasting Lab. Upon entering, it reminded me of a Brooklyn industrial roasting house. Months later, I’ve witnessed the team establish brand loyalty.
Millennials aren’t picky, we’re just happy to be provided with choices. Here, you can choose your beans, style of drink, and brewing method. Since we‘re not drinking a 25 Baht cup of street java, half of the fun is being experimental and stepping into the unknown.
The menu allows us to recognise the different grades, intensities, and origins; each producing a unique flavour profile that transforms throughout the brewing process. Taste is intersubjective, especially in coffee context. Tastiness may be personal, but it can be agreed upon and shared by those with similar gustatory senses. That’s when the magic happens from both sides of the counter.
The local coffee community is not only expanding, but also condensing. In this hidden compound is where coffee shop philosophers console themselves with hearty cups of joe and spontaneous flavour wheel lessons. And staff are on-hand with expertise, should anyone have questions.
Observing the barista/roaster family, I understand that the art of brewing without attentiveness and control is like cooking without passion, if making coffee and food have anything in common. I once witnessed a barista re-pour steamed milk into a cappuccino three times until it was “dry” enough for a customer; a perfection by these diehard coffee enthusiasts. As a rookie coffee drinker, I learn something new every time.
Did you know that cafes usually use 18-20 grams of ground coffee in each portion, but here, they add up to 24 grams? Apart from the buzz, and probably shaky hands and heart palpitations, if you’re a lightweight, you’ll most likely appreciate this generosity.
On top of this, I hope local coffee shops, take Roots and Brave Roasters for instance, start to promote and share about farmers and their roles, how ripe cherries were harvested and where green beans were sourced from, then, their long journey before landing in coffee cups. Transparency could be one of the most challenging yet yearned for aspects in today’s food industry. It either drives companies towards gaining the trust of the customers or losing it.
When I lived in “The Big Apple”, my Food Studies friends and I almost always opted for bar/counter seats and asked questions. It was a shortcut to becoming more well-rounded, conscious consumers. To be able to have that kind of constructive conversations with F&B professionals in Thailand during service hours is rare, but it can be rewarding.
All in all, it takes the openly shared values to attract those who live by the same ones, to return again and again. If this is where the industry is heading, then it will benefit local brands by creating word-of-mouth, and more importantly, the stories—and pockets—of the dedicated growers and actors behind the scenes.