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Coffee in Santitham

Note: This article was written in 2013 – some of the places mentioned are now closed, whilst an great number of new venues have opened in the intervening period

Chang Puek district, Chiang Mai’s north western suburb is home to most of the city’s gay venues and businesses. At its centre, the neighbourhood of Santitham has been transformed almost beyond recognition in the last few years and new construction projects are still racing ahead everywhere. This development has brought with it a new cosmopolitan feel and alongside the many noodle shops and other food shops another modern trend is emerging: the coffee shop.

Dark roasted espresso coffee beans (Source:wikimedia)Santitham is blessed with several great places to while away a few hours with a coffee and a good book (or a laptop). This is our guide to Coffee in Santitham.

Over the last few years coffee has developed into a thriving industry as coffee has been introduced as an opium replacement crop in Northern Thailand’s uplands near the border with Burma. Now, Hill Tribe grown Thai coffee is proving to be a hit both in Thailand, and abroad. It has also fueled the growth of a new coffee culture in Chiang Mai, with many chic and trendy coffee shops being opened by a generation of young coffee connoisseurs that sell locally grown coffee.

Akha Ama Coffee is a great example of Chiang Mai’s new breed of coffee entrepreneurs. In less than three years since it opened Akha Ama’s small coffee shop has engendered a cult following of coffee aficionados which includes many from Chiang Mai’s gay ex-pat community. Run by a very charming Akha guy called Lee, Akha Ama is hidden away in the Santitham area of Chiang Mai at Hussadisawee Rd Soi 3; the same soi as New My Way go-go bar, but at the other end on the opposite side, so not so hard for our readers to find.

However, Akha Ama is much more than just a coffee shop. The business was founded in 2007 in Lee’s home village of Ban Maejantai, located in the mountains near Chiang Rai at 1,500 meters above sea level. Lee’s objective was to help disadvantaged local farmers from the Akha hilltribes who live there, and Akha Ama is supported by the Royal project which provides support, training and access to low cost coffee plants. Guiding principles include sustainable organic farming and fair trade commerce. Akha Ama coffee is now available through a number of retail outlets and coffee shops in Chiang Mai, but for the ultimate coffee experience a trip to Lee’s shop to taste award winning coffee produced by the master barista himself is not to be missed.

Lee at Akha Ama Coffee
Lee at Akha Ama Coffee

If you want more than coffee and need to satisfy a sweet tooth try Bakerista on Santisuk Road. This modern boutique coffee shop features a garden area and air conditioned lounge. As well as great coffee they have their own bakery on site and an excellent selection of cakes.

Caffe' B{e}arista
Caffe’ B{e}arista

Also on Santisuk Road you will find Caffe’ B{e}arista on the ground floor at Surachai Apartment. A modern shop, which sells coffee and also has a selection of cakes. And across the street is Caffe In which also serves Thai food and some western dishes.

A Farang favourite is Na Na Coffee, not so much a coffee shop but also a restaurant which offers inexpensive Thai food and some western dishes too. But, their major attraction is croissants which they bake freshly every morning, along with some other pastries. Sometimes they have bread too.

There are two small but nice coffee shops on Tewan Road, Hom Gai is situated on the ground floor of a condo building at the junction with Thongkwao Road, whilst Jib Kopi is located about 120M west from Santitham Road.

There is also a newcomer in Santitham Plaza – The Plaza Café is run by a Scotsman and his Thai wife. As well as coffee they have a selection of western food. Breakfasts, Burgers, Sandwiches and Pizzas.

To help you find the places mentioned we’ve included a map listing all the places mentioned.

View Coffee in Santitham in a larger map

Last but not least we must not forget our friends at Radchada Garden Café who sell coffee as well as their renowned Pizza.

  1. admin says:

    Thanks for the suggestion which we’ve used in our next Santitham article:

  2. jim messenger says:

    Great Map. ( Next time use numbers on map and article. Easier for people driving around).. Santitam is tricky to navigate. Cheers.

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