Taste Cafe & Roasters

An interview with Tae, Founder of Taste Cafe & Roasters, Chiang Mai.Thailand.

While I was crossing Chiang Mai University on a beautiful evening, we saw this cafe tucked at the corner of the road facing towards the acre of greenery and open sky, I made up my mind to stop for a cup of coffee. During the conversation with the Barista, she Introduced me to the owner Mr. Tae. Paired in simple jeans and tee along with cool sneakers, he welcomed me warmly and was ready to share his story behind this cafe.

Tae started this in 2015 but has been in the coffee business for more than 10-12 years now.

What were you doing Prior to this?
I was working with my friends in a cafe. We started in 2001 when not many cafes were present around the city

How was your experience looking at the growth in the Industry?
Thailand has always been a place of Coffee, but in a traditional way where we always liked it sweet and with a lot of condensed milk. Then the younger generation came up with some fancy or expensive espresso machines and learned how to make latte art and it was the biggest attraction for the youngsters which still continues.

Older people still don’t understand how we young people can drink black coffee and we tell them how there are many flavors and notes in it but they still prefer their older ways. Even in midst of all of this, we have grown a lot in the last 5 years (rather drastically).

And to support the rising growth, we had some great Coffee Academies like Fabb or Torch who really pushed our Baristas and Coffee Professionals to the next level with knowledge and skills.  Also, Baristas got recognition with the SCAA programs and competitions like that.

Prior to opening up this cafe, I was a roaster myself and I was doing it on a small scale for myself, and for my friends at my place itself. Then thought of stepping out in the market and start a cafe.

My business model was to start with my cafe then offer it to the other cafes and that’s how I go about my coffee. I have many clients in northern Thailand.

A basic rule for your Coffee?
I like balanced coffee because when I started this cafe I was just doing a light roast and it was giving me all the sourness and then I changed my roasting profile and now I think I like it for my cafe and also personally for myself.

How do you move on in your difficult situation?
It’s the belief system that helps me. You need to believe in yourself and the decisions that you make, and they begin from the starting point to the end of it. Which farm should I get my coffee from, which coffee should I put on the menu, you believe in it and then you put it across for your customer. It’s all comes back to what I like, then if I like it, I will take the risk to see either the customers will like it or not.

Photo Courtesy : Taylor Franz

Looks or the Quality.
For me as a producer, quality comes first on any day, because I believe that if we maintain the quality, people will get to know about it and definitely they will come back for more. Maintaining quality or giving it importance will always payback on a longer run. Just like any restaurant, no matter how fancy it looks, if your food is not good, no one will come back again and that’s how I see the coffee business.

You cannot fool people for a long time, looks are good but that should always be your secondary. I always feel bad when I see some of our customers take lots of photos of their Coffee and later will complain that it was cold. In reality, when we serve the cup, it’s at the right temperature to be consumed immediately.

But these days with social media, this is one of the ways you get to your free promotions and marketing?
Of course, but that’s not my priority and for me, it will always come after the quality., I want people to enjoy the coffee, take that moment for themselves and drink it, not just for the sake of photographs. Sadly, we have many cafes whose menu looks amazing on photos but at the first sip of it, it can totally disappoint you. And as a coffee roaster and Cafe owner, I would not want to see something like that, not because people won’t come but because I want to serve good Quality coffee every day.

We still have some customers who come in, orders coffee and quietly sit and enjoy their Coffee. And looking at such customers gives me great satisfaction knowing that yes, there are several people who come here to enjoy the coffee itself.