BANGKOK — Due to the coronavirus-induced economic crunch, it may be time to spend less on coffee – and here’s one place where you get what you pay for.
Bangkokians used to major American chains like Starbucks are in luck with Taiwanese chain Louisa Coffee. Its quality is neck and neck with other chains, but pricewise the shop is unbeatable. Its small (or regular) cup of hot Americano is just 50 baht.
Here, a medium cup of drip coffee (350 cc) from six select imported Arabica beans starts at 90 baht.I visited its main branch on the second floor of Amarin Plaza and tried Yirgacheffe G1 Natural from Ethiopia, which costs 100 baht.
Grown at the altitude of 1,950 to 2,300 meters above the sea level it claims to carry flavors such as lychee, blueberry and pineapple. I managed to conjure only pineapple and a sweet taste.
Still, it’s satisfying enough, especially since I chatted with barista Nueng over the counter as he heated and ground the beans and let me sniff its fresh aroma. Nueng told me the temperature of the water for drip coffee is at 88 degrees here although at some other cafes it could go higher but usually no more than 95 degrees or below the boiling point.
The 50-baht cup of Americano was nothing spectacular, but decent blended Arabica beans were used here and far more aromatic than Thai chains which sell cups at a similar price point.
“The sales have dropped by 30 to 40 percent since coronavirus spread,” Thunwarat Piriyakitsakul, 25, a barista and manager trainee at the main branch. “I think the café market has saturated.”
Many cafes in Thailand have not survived coronavirus impacts, which is still ongoing with more layoffs expected and virtually all foreign tourists still kept outside the kingdom.
But Louisa Coffee is a survivor, at least for now. Still, there are no special discounts at this Thai-Taiwanese joint venture but they are focusing on reliable products and a café “experience” at an affordable price.
Louisa’s pastries are all outsourced except its tiramisu. I would recommend its carrot cake, which is rich and as good for its price at slightly over a hundred baht. Avoid the flabby and disappointing chocolate muffin (80 baht).
Unless you’re an early bird who can snag one of the two electrical outlets at the main long shared table, don’t even think about charging your phone or laptop here.
Louisa was founded in Taipei in 2006 and has over 400 branches in Taiwan, but only has three branches in Bangkok. The branch at Amarin Plaza still serves those in need of a quick caffeine fix at a fair price, nevertheless.
This is not a Starbucks knockoff but a cheaper version or Starbucks-inspired café, and not a bad option for those wanting to save a few baht.
Louisa Coffee main branch is located on the second floor of Amarin Plaza, walkable from BTS Chit Lom and is open every day from 7.30am to 8pm. This review is unsponsored. Call 02-163-4575 for more details.