Recent years coffee has become increasingly popular and widely available in Chiang Rai. It’s not unusual to see coffee shops or huts as they are frequently called which serve locally grown and roasted beans since coffee is cultivated in the province itself, for example in the mountain of Doi Wawee and Doi Chaang. Visitors to Chiang Rai will find any number of cafe in almost in the middle of nowhere that offer good value for money.
In this post, we will take you to an almost-unknown coffee shop in one of the least known cities of Chiang Rai province called “Thoeng”. Thoeng is a huge mountainous district which covers the area of 320 square miles while having less than 90,000 of inhabitants. Despite its unpopularity, Thoeng has one of the the most well-known attractions in Thailand which is Phu Chi Fah.
To travel to Thoeng from Chiang Rai, we take route AH3 (Asian Highway 3) or known in local name as “Chiang Rai – Thoeng raod” at Mae Korn Intersection and continue on the road for about 64 kms. The name says it is a highway but it’s actually just a quiet rural road.
Each year ten of thousands of people travel via this road to reach popular Phu Chi Fah or Phu Langka in Phayao district. In fact, there is another shorter route to reach those destinations which passes through Phaya Mengrai District but because of a better road condition and beautiful side views, most people prefer to ride on Chiang Rai – Thoeng raod. This route has a lot of impressive scenery and hidden corners with blacktop tarmacadam that are a rider and motorcyclist’s dream.
In the past, this road had been lacking rest stops. The last stop for coffee or rest we found on the road from Chiang Rai was Doi Pui Petrolium Station which is only 10 km from the city center. Beyond this point, you have to drive a few hours to reach the destinations.
As mentioned earlier, nowadays you will find a number of coffee shops even in the least expected place like this. There is one nice coffee shop on this road. This place is called “Pink Buffalo Coffee” (ควายชมพู or ฝามควายปอน) which has been opened in the end of 2014. Since its opening, the cafe had drawn a lot of attention from local people as it is the first up-scale cafe in the area. However, this cafe is still little known to most travelers who pass through this road everyday.
What is special about this cafe is that it is located on the corner of remote rice fields surrounded by small wood where nobody would expect there would be any coffee shop here. Also it uses a buffalo as its brand symbol while keeping a huge flock of live buffalos in a farm a few meters away from the cafe. This is very strange thing to see in a coffee shop.
To Thai people, using a buffalo to represent oneself is very unusual, especially a dedicate subject like coffee, but it really works in this case. One of baristas told us that each day many people come from Thoeng’s town, which is 20 kms away, to have lunch and coffee here and to play or take photos with live buffalos before leaving. Most of customers are bank employees, school teachers, and those who work for municipality offices in Thoeng’s town or from the nearby areas. The cafe can easily be seen if heading from Thoeng to Chiang Rai, only little portion of people who head to Thoeng stop by. Most irregular customers are those who head to Chiang Rai.
This is the second time I visited this cafe. The impression was still for the price of coffee. Ice coffee costs around 40 Baht a cup and the taste was not bad. The best seller drink here is Italian Soda.
Besides coffee, it also serves local food and a few internal blended dishes. You can find the same popular simple dish that you can find in a restaurant in the city. The price is not expensive too. The most expensive menu we could find was steam sea bass with spicy sauce which cost 120 Baht a dish.
Unlike other coffee shop, Pink Buffalo Coffee also serves cold beer, mostly Leo Beer, any time of day. Despite it could destroy an image of being a coffee shop, you can also bring your own whiskey here too. We don’t normally see this in other cafe. Many people come to this place to have beer specifically. Since the cafe will serve unlimited beer, be careful if you are responsible for a long drive.
As for the atmosphere, inside there are comfy couches and natural lighting via some well-placed windows which make it comfortable to hang out. During lunch time it can be noisy inside. Outside there are a few seat spots that the cafe provide. You can sit on one of colorful chairs or chairs made from haystack just in front of or the side of the cafe. At the side of the shop, there are also a porch area with wooden chairs available for those you like fresh air. Sometimes the air is not so fresh because you might smell buffalo dung. From this area, you can see the view of huge rice fields with mountain in the distance. This area is where many people come and have a cold beer in a hot afternoon.
Here are what we found:
What offers: Coffee, Cakes, Food, Salads, Ice Cream and Cold Beer.
- Surprising location. Surrounded by rice fields and wood with beautiful mountain view from the distance, this place is great for taking a break from a long drive.
- Good but relatively cheap. Ice coffee is around 40 baht a cup.
- Serves local (but not 100% authentic) and international blended dishes. Taste is good.
- Cold beer for those who need refreshment but be careful if you have to drive a long distance.
- Outside area there is strong odor from live buffalos that the shop keep. Some locals like it but new visitors may not be familiar with this kind of smell.
- While there is air-conditioner available inside, besides winter season outside can be very hot.
- During lunch time, it is usually busy and noisy.
Google Maps: 19.614178, 100.070412
Location: Baan Toong Tom, Tambon Sri Don Chai, Amphur Thoeng, Chiang Rai
Fan page: https://www.facebook.com/Kwaychompoo
The following photos are from Pink Buffalo Coffee’s fanpage.
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