The relatively cool mountains in the north of Thailand (close to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai) are very suitable for coffee and tea production. The royal family launched several projects to support the hill tribes who lived in these mountains. One of the things was the introduction of coffee growing as a replacement for the opium growing. The small coffee farms try to focus on the production of high quality (single estate) coffees rather than big volumes of cheaper blend coffees. Some brands are Doi Tung, Phu kha, Doi Chaang, Nacha Coffee and Akha Ama.
More info about Thai Royal Projects
Travel review by Mark Wiens: Doi Chaang – How To Visit Thailand’s Coffee Paradise.
Travel report: Coffee Journey: A tour to a remote coffee village in Thailand.
Coffee shops in Thailand can be found in all sizes and shapes. From simple street vendors to luxury bakeries with a shady garden. One of the biggest Thai coffee shop chains is Black Canyon Coffee. Besides coffee you can also buy food here. When you are exhausted from the heat, look around for a shop with a glass front window and door. This is very often a coffee shop with air conditioning inside ! Sometimes you can also recognize coffee shops by the drying of used coffee powder outside the shop. This is used as a natural skin scrubbing agent. Especially in the smaller streets (sois) this can be seen.
Picture source: GRAPH CAFÉ in Chiang Mai.
Iced coffees in Thailand are usually prepared with condensed milk and a lot of sugar. It is so popular that there is even a page about it on Wikipedia. Pailin “Pai” Chongchitnant from www.hot-thai-kitchen.com shows how you can prepare these coffees by yourself.
Canned and instant coffee from the 7-Eleven supermarket
In every supermarket from 7-Eleven you can buy instant coffee and canned ice coffee. Usually it comes with milk and lots of sugar.