Chiang Mai’s Craft Cafes |

Chiang Mai coffee cafes

Nestled amidst verdant mountains, Chiang Mai is revered for its outdoor escapades and ethical elephant sanctuaries. Its allure extends beyond natural wonders. The city showcases breathtaking temples and bustling night markets, enticing visitors with its vibrant cultural scene. Notably, in recent years, Chiang Mai has emerged as a burgeoning hub for coffee enthusiasts. Beyond cultivating beans locally, the city has fostered a diverse array of cafes boasting Thai coffee beans and inventive non-alcoholic coffee concoctions, showcasing its commitment to the evolving coffee culture.

There are many cafes where you can sample Chiang Mai’s creative coffee cocktails, each with their own selling point.

Akha Ama Prasingh, Chiang Mai Old Town

Great for: A trendy way to support local indigenous farmers and sustainable agriculture

Within walking distance to Wat Prasingh temple, Akha Ama cafe and roastery boasts a contemporary atmosphere with a local touch. Their original branch is located just uptown, which has a more local farm environment feel. Akha Ama is a social enterprise that only sells coffee from indigenous communities (the Akha) in the nearby mountains. The enterprise not only roasts coffee but also engages in social work initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable agriculture and uplifting local farmers. Not only can you savour a cup of coffee here, you can also bring home some local beans.

In addition to the usual coffee offerings, you can try their signature concoction, the Manee Mana. It’s made with espresso, honey, and orange peel. The foamy head is achieved by shaking the ingredients together in a cocktail shaker. Don’t worry, there’s no alcohol in it.

Graph, One Nimman

Great for: A cosy, trendy place to try some unique coffee cocktails

Located just outside Chiang Mai’s Old Town, Nimman is a vibrant neighbourhood that’s known for its hipster vibe and modern shopping malls. And when it comes to malls, One Nimman is a landmark filled with many hip, local cafes. One of them is Graph, which has a number of branches in Chiang Mai. The one at One Nimman boasts a dark, industrial-style interior where you can savour some of their coffees. These include canned nitro cold brews, drip coffee, and of course, non-alcoholic coffee cocktails.

Some cocktails include Sompetch (espresso with chocolate powder and orange juice, topped with milk foam), Bright But Hazy (nitro cold brew with pineapple and lemon juice), Monochrome (vanilla-flavoured latte with activated charcoal) and Midtown, which is a cold brew and soda combo with milk foam, topped with caramel Himalayan pink salt and a piece of seaweed.

Skugga, Tapae Gate

Great for: Specialty cocoa drinks

Skugga’s latest branch at the historic Tapae Gate, which is a cozy space featuring lots of warm wood furnishings. This spot offers coffee, tea, and chocolate straight from their own farm in the mountains in Mae On. Their picturesque farm is also worth visiting, as it has a roastery, vineyard, and their own cabin accommodation (you can also book chocolate workshops).

You can try their refreshing coffee concoctions, like their Iced Honey Lemon Americano or Iced Passionfruit Americano. However, they’re known for their specialty chocolate drinks. These range in intensity from the richer Wake Me Up Baby (75%) to the white chocolate White Knight (35%), and all are available in both hot and cold versions.

Twenty Mar, Chiang Mai Old Town

Great for: Enjoying art with your cup of coffee

Tucked between the Old Town’s ancient temples lies Twenty Mar, which is more of a cafe-meets-art gallery. There’s also a turntable area for DJs. There’s a small cafe space at the front which doesn’t have many seats, but deeper in the store is a large art gallery. You can get fresh air at the outdoor portion at the back. The entire cafe has a retro feel, and the long-haired barista-owner certainly adds an interesting vibe to the space.

Their signature offering is the Dirty – made by pouring hot espresso over cold milk – which is very popular among customers. They also offer signature cocktails like Perfect Orange (espresso, yuzu tonic, and dark chocolate) and Refresher, which is a cold brew with plum syrup.

SELF, Chiang Mai riverside

Great for: Trying some really unique coffee cocktails with fermented fruits

With a super minimalist interior and a DJ bar, SELF is sandwiched between the Ping River and the Night Bazaar. This dog-friendly cafe not only brews all your usual coffees, they also ferment ingredients for use in their coffee cocktails. But what stands out about SELF is their truly unique rotating roster of coffee cocktails.

They would have 3 signature coffee cocktails on offer – simply named S1, S2, and S3 – that change monthly. For instance, in March, their S1 was a cold brew with coconut juice, strawberry shrub, and vanilla. In February, their S1 was cold brew, fermented passionfruit, chrysanthemum, and honey. Last May’s offering includes a cold brew concoction with corn milk sauce, coconut cream, topped with toasted corn!

Their signatures often involve some fermented fruit, which adds an interesting dimension to coffee.

MARS, Chiang Mai Old Town

Great for: Taking lots of IG pics in this Mars-themed interior

Not to be confused with Twenty Mar, MARS is literally out of this world. People come here to take plenty of IG photos, so do be aware of the potential queues. True to its name, the decor is reminiscent of a trip to Mars. It comprises a Mars landscape, a spaceship-themed cafe in the front, and a space grotto cocktail bar at the back. Seating is dotted all over, each with a different theme (ie. Mars, spaceship, etc).

While the cafe serves decent coffees, it’s their cocktail bar (mocktails available) that has more of their signature drinks. If you sit at the bar, drinks will be served with you through a cloud of mist (aka dry ice smoke).

Chiang Mai’s coffee scene is exploding right now, plenty of cafes coming up with more unique themes and offerings. There’s no shortage of cafes to explore – one weekend may not even be enough! – especially if you’re a coffee lover. Of course, you’ll have to pay attention to the weather. April is its hottest month, when temperatures can soar to 40ºC.