What turned out to be one of my favourite spots during my recent trip to Chiang Mai was also one of the hardest to find, although it was well worth the effort. Cottontree Coffee Roasters epitomises much that is good about Chiang Mai’s (and, indeed, Thailand’s) growing speciality coffee scene. It’s relatively new, having been set up in 2015, catering to a local crowd, offering both Thai-grown and imported coffee, but with the light roasts beloved of the third wave. The name “Cottontree” by the way, is a play on the names of the owners, a lovely young couple, Fai (Cotton) and Ton (Tree).
The coffee shop, which doubles as the roastery, is perhaps the most beautiful of those I saw in Chiang Mai, which is saying something given how many beautiful coffee shops I found. With its high ceilings, and clean, uncluttered lines, it’s worth seeking out on aesthetic grounds alone. Cottontree roasts both Thai single-estate coffees and seasonal imports (currently Ethiopian and Kenyan single-origins). There are two options on espresso (one for espressos/ Americanos, the other for milk-based drinks) and two more on pour-over via V60, Chemex or Syphon. If you’re hungry, there’s a range of freshly-baked cakes and pastries.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Located at the end of a dead-end road, in a modern development just west of Chiang Mai’s ring road, Cottontree Coffee Roasters is not somewhere you stumble upon by accident. What’s worse is that, at the moment, there’s major construction going on at the ring road’s southern end, forcing you to walk/drive through a full-on construction site to get to the one road that leads to Cottontree.
However, it’s well worth the effort and I’m not the only one who thinks so, judging by the number of people who were also there during my visit. Occupying a modern, south-facing building looking out onto a large, open space, there are a couple of tables outside on a narrow veranda, screened off by plants and sheltering under the shade of two massive umbrellas. Compared to other spots in Chiang Mai, where sitting outside means contending with choking traffic, here it’s idyllic.
It’s even better in the peaceful, air-conditioned interior, with its whitewashed walls and wooden furniture, where the amazingly high ceilings give Cottontree near cube-like dimensions, the roof sloping from front to back, gaining height all the time. The counter is on the left, with the kitchen to the left of that in a half-height room with no ceiling and, behind them both, in a glass-walled room, there’s the roaster. Together these three occupy almost half the room, with just enough space in front of the counter/kitchen for a four-person window-bar across the two tall, narrow windows to the left of the door.
The remaining seating is off to the right, starting with the door, which is offset on right, a solitary tall, narrow window to the right of that, with a two-seat window-bar. There’s a pair of beautiful, long, thin six-person communal tables pushed together length-ways in the centre, the remaining seating running around the edges. Two two-person tables line the right-hand wall, while a wooden bench, with in-built shelf tables, runs across the back wall. Finally, a broad table with three seats stands against the glass walls of the room housing the roaster, a 2 kg Has Garanti.
Talking of which, what about the coffee? During my visit, the espresso blend consisted of two Thai coffees, one from Pang Khon and the other, the Mae Jantai, a honey-processed coffee from the Surasak farm in Chiang Rai. The Mae Jantai was also the single-estate espresso and, using a different roast profile, was one of the pour-over options, where it was joined by naturally-processed coffee from the Sirinya farm in Doi Chang.
I started off with the Mae Jantai as an espresso, which was lovely, a very well-balanced, well-rounded espresso. I paired this with a hot custard pastry, which had wonderful light pastry and a rich, but not overly-sweet filling.
Chatting with Fai and Ton, I watched as Ton made a V60 of the Doi Chang for another customer. Once the brewing was finished, he transferred the coffee from one carafe to another, back to the original carafe and then decanted it into a third, narrow carafe for serving, a process, which Fai explained, cooled the coffee to the perfect temperature for drinking.
There was a little left over, so Fai offered it to me to taste and, I have to say, it was excellent, very smooth and bursting with fruity flavours. I was so impressed that I swapped a copy of my book, The Philosophy of Coffee, for a bag of it to bring home!
December 2018: Cottontree Coffee Roasters has won the 2018 Best Physical Space Award.
|45/38 M.5 T. CHANG PHUEAK • CHIANG MAI • 50300 • THAILAND|
|www.facebook.com/Cottontree-Coffee-Roasters||+66 (0) 86 090 9014|
|Monday||08:00 – 16:00||Roaster||Cottontree (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||CLOSED||Seating||Tables, Bars; Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 16:00||Food||Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 16:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 16:00||Cards||Cash Only|
|Saturday||08:00 – 16:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||08:00 – 16:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||27th April 2018|
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