A well-done everyday coffee shop
If you include all the stands slinging coffee streetside, there have to be a million coffee shops in Bangkok. Most sell a standard mix of decent Thai coffee, overly sweet lattes, milky chah yen (Thai iced-tea), a few juices and smoothies, perhaps some baked goods that look better than they taste, and, if the place is elaborate, sandwiches and rice plates. Conveniently located M Coffee does all of the above, and they do it well.
Located near Sukhumvit Soi 69, directly below the Phra Khanong BTS (skytrain) station, the glass-fronted M Coffee stands out among this part of Sukhumvit’s predominantly old school open-air shop fronts. A couple of tables are set up outside on an enclosed porch raised slightly above the footpath, but most opt for a table or couch in the main air-con dining room.
Though tables are set close together, a mirror running the length of one wall lends the place an illusion of spaciousness, and the interior is pleasantly bright and clean. Tiled and wood floors, light orange walls and hanging glass lanterns are complimented by a shelf of vintage radios, telephones and toys.
One thing that’s not on the menu is WiFi, a hint that they don’t want people sitting around for hours on a laptop with a bottled water while the real paying customers wait for one of the limited tables. Not surprising considering the cafe’s varied menu, snappy yet friendly service, and the quality of food and drink, the cafe is often nearly full (although that magic lone table always seems to be there) with an equal mix of Thais and foreigners.
A couple of details that make for some well earned “extra credit” are complimentary glasses of ice water as soon as you sit down, and individually wrapped but reusable hand towels at the bathroom sink. For anyone whose spent some serious time in Southeast Asia’s usually soap-less bathrooms, individual hand towels are a dream come true.
The coffee is strong and dark northern Thai arabica served in larger glasses than are typical of Thailand. A full range of variations are available, from a professionally crafted cappuccino to a hot cocoa complete with chocolate sauce drizzled over whipped cream. Thai-style iced teas, fresh juices and smoothies are also available.
While it’s a worthy stop just for the coffee, the food is also good for a lunch or late-afternoon snack. Sandwiches aren’t the best I’ve had in Thailand, but the ham and cheese croissant will do the trick for satisfying that bread craving. If it’s the pasta fix that needs quenching, a full page of lunch-size spaghetti dishes are solid choices.
We usually opt for one of the many Thai rice plates, including a gai met mamuang himapan (cashew nut chicken stir-fry), which comes in a balanced spicy and salty package with the right mix of onions, roasted chilli, scallion, tomato and cashews.
Other favourites include the fried rice sauteed with the sour and spicy flavours of tom yum, and a solid chicken green curry. The cafe also makes for the perfect “I know I shouldn’t but I’m going to anyway” late afternoon indulgence — try the divine scented waffles (they taste pretty good too) with strawberries and ice cream or a slice of blueberry cheesecake.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
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