In Thailand, coffee is a 20-billion-baht ($788.4M) industry. Coffee plants were introduced over the past few decades by the Akha people in the country’s north, where mountain air and soil lent ideal conditions for growing the world’s most coveted bean: Arabica.
But at her Sydney café, Boon, Palisa Anderson says that the Arabica trend was short-lived.
“It’s a case of ‘you have to be there to understand’, but Thai people actually prefer the taste of Nestle, and it’s cheap,” Anderson says. “It’s so hot in Thailand so when you have something so sickly-sweet and cold, it’s very refreshing, especially when you’ve been working outside and want to replenish those sugars. So it’s become common in palate.”
After attempting to make iced coffees at her Chat Thai restaurants and Boon with house-ground Single Origin espresso, to keep in line with their business’ produce-respecting ethos, the response from customers was clear.
“Everyone wanted the other Thai coffee. So we just said, 'Oh, ok. Nestle it is.'"
Earlier this year, Nestle Thai Ltd, the distributor of Nescafe coffee, announced it was launching Cappuccino, Latte Macchiato and White Espresso versions to appeal to the younger latte-sipping market.
“Coffee drinkers in Europe and Asia enjoy café-style hot coffee more than Thais,” Audrey Liow, chairwoman of Nestle Indochina explained of Nescafe’s popularity in Thailand.
Alongside more traditional cream-topped western iced coffees, and the syrupy Thai Nescafé-based versions like the Oryoaha (sweet black) and Kaffe yen (iced coffee with caramelised milk - see below) at Boon Café, Anderson has come up with a healthier coffee compromise.
“We found a nice alternative for iced coffee, which is basically just to crack a fresh young coconut and we do a double shot inside a coconut, which works out really great. It’s very refreshing and you get some sweetness from the coconut water without adding sugar. It’s somewhere between an Asian coffee and a long black. We just call it a coconut coffee.”
If other recent coffee trends are anything to go by (we’re looking at you, avolatte), we think the coconut coffee is going to follow viral suit.
Lead image from megantlang via Instagram.