Cafe Crawling Around Chang Mai

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Since we've been traveling, myself and Craig have found a new hobby. What's that I hear you ask - yoga?  - or maybe we've joined an alternative dance group?! Although that does conjure up a wonderful image I'm afraid it's something a little more mundane. As you've probably already guessed from the title of this post, it is in fact going to cafes. We have named this new hobby of ours 'cafe crawling' as just like a bar crawl it involves moving around from place to place although this hobby involves a lot more coffee and cake, and a lot less beer and hangover food (although we do believe some of the cafes we've visited to be awesome hangover spots!). Although this post features only cafe's in Chang Mai, I must also note that we have guiltily been cafe crawling all over the world - the addiction started way back in Japan, when we discovered drip coffee. Anyway, enough rambling - let get down to it!

Chang Mai is Thailand's northern 'go to' for the backpacking brigade. It's rich in culture, character and best of all cafes! Asia itself has a surprising good cafe scene, with some of the trendiest brunch spots popping up in the most unlikely places! Out of all the places so far, Chang Mai seemed to really nail what Craig and I look for in a cafe...

1. Super sexy, inviting decor, vibe + ambiance (plants, good lighting + music and colour schemes)
2. Great menu with loads of quirky vegan and veggie options
3. Strong yummy coffee
4. Comfortable, cosy seating (slouchy sofa preferable)
5. Some sort of theme or focus
6. And for Craig... The ultimate peanut butter and banana milk shake

In this post I'm gonna give a little rundown on a few of the cafes we visited and hung out in during our stay in Chang Mai, and I'm gonna start with our all time favourite...

My Secret Cafe
So this cafe was dreamy! From everything down to the beautiful exterior when you noticed it tucked away on a little side street, to the rich botanical vibe inside. Greeted (like most places in Thailand) with lovely smiley staff, we were seated at a huge 'slouchy sofa' yaaaaas! The music was also a winner with soft, indie coffee break style tunes humming in the background whilst clicking cups and friendly nattering filled the room. The interior felt warm and homely whilst remaining stylish and minimal - a hard combination to find! As for the food... YUM! Here I enjoyed the best carrot cake I have ever had as well as many fresh detox juices, strong and tasty iced coffee and pots of fragrant tea. Craig also had an awesome peanut butter and banana shake, check! We never actually ate breakfast or lunch at My Secret Cafe as it was actually a little bit pricey for our backpacker budget. However it was perfect to come and chill for a few hours with coffee and cake and enjoy the fast internet that you don't often get in hostels. It was the perfect spot to write up blog posts!

Overstand was our go to breakfast spot. Serving reasonably priced, strong coffee and huge fruit, muesli bowls - it was easily a winner with us. The decor was really cool - and had a very urban New York 'hip-hop' vibe. Industrial style lighting and furniture added to the hip vibe, however the seating wasn't the comfiest to chill on, therefore resulting in a flying visit. Nevertheless this didn't stop us returning as the service, food and drink was spot on and ticked everything we needed out of breakfast.

Akha ama
This tiny little gem can be found a couple of steps away from My Secret Cafe (which made our crawling a lot easier). A very small space, but don't be fooled as the coffee packs a punch. We didn't eat anything at Akha ama as its not renowned for its baked goods - it is however famous for its coffee. They do all your regulars (Americano, Latte...) hot or cold but they also do drip and cold brew. It's a little bit more specialist and if you're a bit of a coffee boff you're gonna love this place. Like Overstand the seating isn't great and therefore it's more of a grab a coffee and go kinda place but comfy seating isn't what you come here for. I also really like Akha ama's focus on sustainable coffee farming and using local produce - they sell a wide range of different coffee beans in store that support this.

Free Bird
Recommended to use by a fellow travelling buddy, this place was classically 'vegan/hippy' in appearance. Lush botanicals and dreamcatchers hung against a minimal white wall, and comfy yet simple bench style seating was available - the cafe defiately had a great feel. Everything on Free Bird's menu was vegetarian and near enough everything could be made vegan if you wanted it - which was a huge plus for myself and Craig. With that said I was left a little disappointed by my food. I ordered a coconut coffee, which was nice, and the french toast with fruit. It was a little small and lacklustre, not thick and indulgent like it should be. Craig enjoyed a fruit salad, which was actually really good - so I reckon I was just unlucky. Although I wasn't in awe of the food I was so impressed and thrilled to find out that the cafe supports a charity helping refugees from Burma who are treated badly by the Thai government. It was great to know that the proceeds of my food and drink was going to a good cause.

So there you have it! If you're ever in Chang Mai in search of the perfect coffee, slice of cake or just after some downtime (I find cafes to be a great source of relaxation) then I hope this blog post finds you! I'm off now to track down yet another cafe for my caffeine fix.

Elly x

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