They're everywhere—but which one should you make a beeline for in the morning? For those times when a decent indie roaster isn't an option, we've ranked Bangkok's basic chain coffee joints from best to worst.
A good cup of Joe should be a smooth and full-bodied medley of acidity, sweetness, and bitterness. But who here seriously hits up an indie coffee roaster for B120 espresso each morning? That's why we've blind tasted the Americanos at Bangkok's big coffee chains to see which ones taste least like pond water.
1. Coffee Club Winner!
The place: An Aussie-born, Thai-owned coffee and brunch chain that now boasts 26 branches across Bangkok.
The taste: Words like strong, full-bodied, smoky and acidic may sound haughty for chain coffee, but this cup really delivers. At double the price of most others on this list, we should hope so too.
The price: B95
2. All Coffee (7-Eleven)
The place: You can’t walk five meters in Bangkok without coming across a branch of this Japanese-owned American international convenience store—the majority of which have their own hot food and coffee counters. They claim to inspect their beans five times prior to roasting.
The taste: Coffee snobs, avert your eyes. Smooth with a touch of sourness and smoky undertones, it appears that we've fallen for the cheapest coffee on the list. We're as shocked as you are, trust us.
The price: B25
The place: America's prolific fast food chain also serves a wide variety of coffee, from caramel macchiatos to cappuccinos. They use 100 percent Arabica beans, which are supposedly freshly brewed every 30 minutes.
The taste: We are lovin' this mellow brew. Looks like we'll be sucking up our pride after that drunk 2am Big Mac to return for a morning caffeine cure.
The price: B39
4. Chao Doi
The place: This Chiang Mai cafe franchise shines a light on beans grown by Thailand’s hill tribes and goes in for dark-roasted traditional Thai coffee. The brand has around 300 franchises across the country, as well as outlets specializing bubble tea.
The taste: Smooth, strong and smoky—we can almost taste the mountains. This intensely bitter cup has us hooked.
The price: B45
5. True Coffee
The place: Better known for their mobile phone operations, True Corporation began operating in-store cafes that now draw an outside crowd.
The taste: Hints of acidity and fruitiness make way for a mellow taste. Throw in some high-speed Wi-Fi and we could be sold.
The price: B75
6. Black Canyon
The place: This Thai-owned coffee house originated in 1993 and can now be found across Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia, and the Philippines. They make use of beans from northern Thailand’s royal agricultural projects combined with imports from around the world.
The taste: Peaks and valleys—this cup goes from being smooth and mellow to zingy, bitter and peppery. At least it's anything but flat.
The price: B70
The place: Founded in Seattle in 1971, this has become the world’s most recognizable coffee chain. It was introduced to Thailand in 1998 and now boasts over 300 outlets across the country, which utilize beans sourced from across the globe—be it Columbia, Kenya, or Thailand.
The taste: Flat and bland, this coffee barely even smells the part. Plus, it's three-times the price of some of our top picks. Branding clearly does wonders.
The price: B105
8. Cafe Amazon
The place: Ever wonder why this chain is in every gas station, no matter how far out? That would be because it’s owned by the Thai state-owned gas station, PTT.
The taste: There’s nothing particularly standout about this coffee—just about everything leans towards the lighter side, from the aroma to the bitterness.
The price: B35
9. Au Bon Pain
The place: Franchises of this casual Boston-headquartered cafe have become ubiquitous in Bangkok, selling baked goods and icy drinks. The chain has 200 locations in the United States, India, and Thailand and is owned by the German JAB Holding Company.
The taste: Very, very flat. Maybe, just maybe we can detect a very slight bitter note but perhaps we're just grasping at straws.
The price: B75
10. Tom N Toms
The place: South Korea’s answer to Starbucks, Tom N Toms has been around since 1999. Right now, the brand operates over 90 branches across nine countries, including America, Australia and Mongolia. It arrived in Bangkok in 2012 and now has 26 outlets across the country, many of which are 24-hours.
The taste: Straight up weird—flavorless and watery in texture, with a mildly rancid smell and a slightly fruity aftertaste. We'll pass, thanks.
The price: B80