Gallery Drip Coffee is the result of one man’s love interest with coffee. Hand Ground Coffee. An unlikely relationship in a country where the most common one night stand (where coffee is concerned) is with the three-in-one coffee, milk & sugar packet that fills the 7/11 convenience store shelves and the corridors of supermarket where in the western world only jars of instant and whole bean coffee prevail.
A Photographers Eye
The man in question is photographer & co-founder of Gallery Drip Coffee, Piyachat Trithaworn (informally know as Pi).
After a by-chance encounter with a coffee plantation owner whilst photographically covering the growth of arabica bean farming in the country, Pi became lost in the romance of the process from all the way from bean, through the roasting, through Pi’s favourite stage of the grind and the pour to the cup.
Over time Pi began to collect more coffee grinders and also further knowledge about the perfect cup of coffee. He studied into the perfect temperatures, how to get the perfect grind, the storage and even the roasting process.
As Pi’s love affair with his dream cup of coffee began to grow an opportunity arose that could not be missed.
In April of 2012, the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre began to expand their offering by bringing short-term projects & enterprises to fill up a number of pop-up stores they’d created on each floor – most, if not all, remain a year later. There is a custom/trendy bicycle shop, a ice-cream fusion cafe, the HOF Eat & Art art gallery/restaurant that we ate at, there’s a street art & graffiti shop where people can pick up some extra spray cans before heading out at night and there are a couple of bookstores.
Pi took the opportunity to do something he could be passionate about, and help spread the passion for the growing interest in coffee the younger populace of Bangkok is gaining in ‘black gold’.
Together with fellow artist and friend Natthiti Ampriwan (also know as A), the pair began to process of opening their own shop under their own set of ‘for the love of the grind’ principles. They began by importing all of their own coffee from the arabica plantations that are found in the north of Thailand in and around the city of Chiang Mai. Next they began to roast the coffee by themselves in a disused school in the Bangkok suburbs to personally take the beans through the last stage of their evolution towards the hand grind and then the pour.
365 Days Later
One year later and Gallery Drip Coffee is doing remarkably well and in celebration of making it to that three-hundred and sixty-fifth day they gifted the first fifty customers of the cafe with one of their trademark handmade cups. A fantastic gift we both felt ourselves jealous of having arrived the day after the event. Below you’ll see the fantastic cup in question with it’s wonderful colouring on the inside and out, a great coffee cup for clasping on a cold day when you need that extra warmth.
More importantly for our palates was the anniversary coffee bean blend selected for the occasion from 13 different beans from around the world, selected and measured for a unique taste just for the occasion – it was meant to be that we’d really enjoy not just the taste, but also the name – 365 Days Around The World
– ”You spend most of your life in the first place, your work, the second place to that is your home. After that, you probably spend the rest of your time relaxing in your third place, most probably a cafe or a bar” –
The ‘Third Place’ principle of sharing your downtime in one primary location with your community of friends or work colleagues (as documented in Ray Oldenburgs ‘The Great Good Place: Cafes…at the Heart of the Community‘) has had it’s part to play on the ethos of Pi & A for their coffee venture, that there is a place where you can share that special moment between the cup and the moments you share with it.
Gallery Drip Coffee is intended to be your go-to place when you want that kickstart to your day, the cool down from a hot day in the hot Thai sun. You’re amongst friends, part of a community that shares the same passion’s as you, has the same way of thinking as you. It’s design is there to help you settle and screams of the artistic talents that lay at the hearts of not just the owners, but the clientele too.
A large quantity of the clientele are from the arts community that frequent Bangkok Arts & Culture Centre, some are friends of the family who’ve been connected with Pi & A since a time gone by of studies and freelance work together and some are friends who after popping their head into the shiny new story with the paint still trying never stopped coming for the alternative of drip coffee.
The people who spend their time after work sipping a freshly ground cup of coffee aren’t just customers in the eyes of everyone who works at the coffee shop, they’re more like friends.
They share coffee together, stories together, they share ideas for the next art project together and from time-to-time – when the shutters go down – they share dinner together at a street food stall or a restaurant nearby. Every once in awhile there will be an activity (such as a pottery class) where all are invited as a group together as friends – something we wish we’d been around long enough to be a part of.
The painters, illustrators, writers, photographers of the group all are supported by their friends at Gallery Drip Coffee. You can find hand drawn postcards, extremely beautifully made plain notebooks & wonderful t-shirts on sale in the cafe designed and produced by friends in the community, an incredibly supportive gesture that we both highly commend.
There are even some of the trademark Gallery Drip Coffee cups re-imagined by these friends scatter about the shop such as these below.
Forgetting To Wash The Dishes
Leaving your cup behind is actually encouraged at Gallery Drip Coffee. In fact, if you bring and use your own cup you get a discount on your single blend coffee and more awesome than that, you can leave your cup on the ‘friends shelf’ for the next time you stop by to get some feedback on your latest sketches.
The menu is divided into three sections. There’s the lovingly hand ground single origin coffee, there’s a selection of drip coffee with modifiers such as ice, milk & jelly and there are a couple of teas (green and blended).
First up, a signature hand ground single origin.
The body is light, the flavour mellow. It’s a warming a subtle coffee drink measure to just the right temperature. It’s not as strong as one might come to expect should you (like me) be used to the extra strong & bold tastes of European and American brews.
It’s refreshing and balanced, Franca found it to be her favourite just because the flavor was strong enough for her without being too little or too much. Also, she was more than glad to take it just as it comes, black & without milk or sugar, because “anything else would spoil the flavour”.
What makes this coffee really special is not solely that the beans are well rounded Peaberry beans, but more the care of the method employed to brew them.
The personal and tender care Pi takes to make each cup of single origin crafts this great brew. He’s methodical with the grind, making sure to get it just right. He controls & monitors the temperature, knowing that the just a few degrees here and there can ruin your morning coffee.
Smelling the coffee – using my hands to contain the fragrance – was a delight; again, it’s well balanced, not overpowering and setting my teeth to a chatter.
Following on from that we tried a drink Gallery Drip Coffee is becoming well known for – Drip Coffee Jelly.
It’s a delicious cocktail of a fresh coffee jelly prepared in the morning, topped with cooled foamed milk. As a side, there is a sugar syrup to add to level the sweetness at your preference rather than just being presented with something a little too sickly-sweet and disguising the taste of the coffee.
Mixing the drink is a cute and mildly fun moment of stabbing the jelly at the bottom with your straw, combining the taste of the coffee, the milk and as much syrup as you prefer.
The taste is fantastic. It’s incredibly more-ish and was hard not to gulp down from the first sip, if fact, I may have had more than my fair share 0_o
The focus on food is the typical coffee shop offering of sweets to accompany your coffee. There are chocolate biscuits and a number of cakes on offer which looked delicious that we didn’t sample.
The pride of place and must have purchase are the hand ground single origin coffee. At the time of our visit there were six single origins to choose from, the ‘365 Days Around The World’ being one of them. The choice is between a small or larger cup and the prices are fixed with the cheapest being 75 Baht, the most expensive being 155 baht (£3.42 / €4.00 / $5.17).
The Drip Coffee Jelly is 80 baht (£1.76 / €2.06 / $2.67) and worth every penny for the taste alone, let alone the great experience.
Drip coffee is priced between 55 and 75 baht (£1.21-1.65 / €1.42-1.93 / $1.83-2.50) depending on size with an option for an ice alternative at 60 baht (£1.32 / €1.54 / $2.00).
Latte’s are made to order at 60 Baht, iced lattes and iced mochas at 75 baht –
Tea from 65 baht (£1.43 / €1.67 / $2.17) and upwards.
View Gallery Drip Coffee in a larger map
Gallery Drip Coffee
Bangkok Art & Culture Centre – 1st Floor
939 Rama 1 Rd, Pathumwan, Bangkok, 10330
The Future of Gallery Drip Coffee
With it’s first year under it’s belt as a major personal success, Gallery Drip Coffee, we were both eager to ask the question; “what does the future hold?”.
The focus for the future is one of organic and natural progression rather than a rapid expansion, building up a coffee shop and the ethos of a shared moment with a great cup of coffee instead of strengthening “the brand” like so many others.
When I asked, “What about marketing? Will you look to build-up what you have with a stronger online presence?”. The answer was simple; the most honest and positive marketing they’d prefer to use is word-of-mouth. A friend telling another friend, meeting with a date for coffee to share that special moment, that special place. Not a poster campaign in just the right places, just the recommendation of one pleased coffee lover to another.
“Will there be more another Gallery Drip Coffee??” Maybe. Perhaps in the future. Maybe one day they’d like to have a place in the highly westernised city of Chiang Mai, conveniently located not a stones throw away from the source of most of their coffee and one of the places Pi first went to cover.
They’d also like to become more ecologically aware will a move to using more eco-friendly & sustainable materials, installing solar panels for the cafe to be more self-sustainable whilst also looking to become more carbon-neutral.
There’s so much to applaud Pi & A for in their coffee shop endeavour. We both felt completely at ease and welcomed during our time there and should we have decided to remain in Bangkok for any period of time I don’t think we would have drank our ritualised coffee mornings anywhere else.
To amongst creative minds, creative thoughts & in a creatively-supported atmosphere is incredible encouraging, something I personally would like to be a part of in the future should I ever be able to realise my own dreams to open a cafe of my own.
Also, we highly applaud the efforts Gallery Drip Coffee will be making in the future to expand their business into becoming more eco-friendly, but vegan-friendly also, something we don’t often see in the swirling hot heat of Bangkok’s streets.
Neither of us could imagine drinking a three-in-one again.