A wander down Langsuan to the Villa Supermarket cut through to Ratchadamri will lead the thirsty traveller to the Aanantara Baan Rajprasong serviced apartments where the latest reseller of the Coffee Club has opened its doors. The Coffee Club is an Australia & New Zealand’s favourite cafe brand, originally from Brisbane, now gaining a foothold in Thailand. Their Thai-oriented site is at https://www.facebook.com/thecoffeeclubthailand.
The Diplomat and I are pulling a lap round the luxury hotel blocks between Wireless, Ploenchit, Ratchadamri and Sarasin roads when we see this and decide (as no one is in it) to take Isla in. After all, when you’ve an active two year old you’re conscious of upsetting restaurant patrons. Then again, the Villa market shop just before it always has a gaggle of Thai employees cooing Isla’s name. Every so often we stick “Grumpy” in front of her first name and she lives up to this sobriquet because she’s figured out it is certainly easier to fling your two-year old self on a supermarket floor rather than a dusty Bangkok sidewalk that reeks of khlong. Something about the ‘Terrible Twos’. This growth phase isn’t helped by the fact that our little darling is decidedly most grumpy about having a younger brother. So much so she scribbled on his birth photo and then decided to wet his crib. This is MY territory!
Not likin’ Joshua, then, eh, Isla?
Like a hole in the ‘ead, Dadddaaa. When does he go back?”
So long as we’re clear on the situation.
We saunter into the place, finding no one there – which was great because of the aforementioned Miss Grumperson. It has clean lines, a high ceiling, statutory chalk board on the wall. All silent bar the obligatory hiss and puff of a barista’s pride and joy. Coffee whisks its way along gleaming steel pipes, gushes through nozzles, moans slurpily through a tube or two, whistles under the high pressure of a steam system, before dripping with sepulchral gloominess into the cup beneath. A coffee maker is that wonderful invention of a neo-industrial rattle-and-shake of a machine.
Our server brings over a flat coffee and a latte. Artistry at work with the sketch of a swirling galaxy atop my imminent non-alcoholic quaff. Bowing my head whilst simultaneously bringing the hot cup to my lips, I savour that momentary pleasure of fresh brewed coffee. Then the caress of smooth foam followed by the breaking through into hot (but not scalding) liquid black gold that fills my world.
Overly obsequious? Perhaps, but coffee, for me, is a moment of pure relaxation.
This is pretty good, I have to say I am mumbling through a flat, ginger-tasting biscuit.
I gaze around. Cakes beckon to me, glistening from behind a glass pane next to the coffee maker. Outside in an atrium, round tables are tenebrous under huge green umbrellas. A hedge runs around the atrium at standing eye height, designed to hide the road outside. I catch a faint fragrance of orchids. It is coming from dozens of white and purple denizens that line one side of the place. These are Vanda orchids of Thailand. Most are pink but some are conspicuous by their white and purple ‘scales’. My late mother would have been delighted by these. Orchids in the U.K. are a precious, expensive commodity. In Thailand they grow like weeds, spoiling us with scent and bloom year round.
On the other side of the road runs a white wall that marks the boundary of a US embassy conclave of residences – old style Thai houses from the day when diplomacy meant colonial-style living. It is a forgotten wall, bland. The odd scrawled graffiti, some posters, a cracked stucco face. Unless you peeked through a crack in a pair of gates that look like they’ve rusted shut you’d never know what was behind it – something that is common in Bangkok. It is not a city that displays its past well…you have to hunt for it behind these pale walls, overgrown fences, ill-fitting gates.
This is what I like about the global coffee culture. It allows introverts to indulge in the periphery position of people watching, place watching, culture watching. Sitting and observing quiet Bangkok with a fine coffee to hand gives me as much a pleasure as I imagine an extrovert would find immersed in the noisy, heaving market places of Khao San, Chatuchak or Bo Fae. And this place…produces the kind of brew that just…smooths…out life for a few quiet minutes.
I decided to photograph their menu. Didn’t try any of it (why spoil a coffee) but I appreciate it might be of interest to those wandering by the Ratchadamri BTS station….
I’ve also just noted this is my 100th blog. A milestone of sorts 😉
Is this what diplomacy is all about?