Our search for the best Thai coffee leads us now to Cafe Amazon’s Pangkhon coffee (กาแฟดริป ปางขอน), a medium roast coffee grown in the Chiang Rai village of Ban Pang Khon, which is home to the Akha and Yao/Mien hill tribes. Cafe Amazon first released Pangkhon (pronounced Bahng-khawn) in December of 2018, as a limited edition drip coffee, sold in a box of 5 single use sachets. Another release followed due to popular demand from Thai coffee lovers, but it was once again a limited release. Most Cafe Amazon coffee shops no longer have any Phangkon coffee in stock, nor do most of the resellers. But you can still find it currently at Cafe Amazon’s official store at the online Shopee Mall for 135 baht plus shipping.
The village of Ban Pang Khon is 1,280 meters above sea level and is well-known to Thai people as both a coffee growing region and a winter travel destination. During the winter Thai tourists come to see the famous “sea of fog” that hangs over the surrounding mountains, as well as to admire the beauty of the Phaya Sua Krong flowers — white and pink bouquets that bloom from the Thai Sakura tree.
In recent years, coffee tourism has begun to be promoted thanks to the efforts of Chiang Rai Rajabhat University and the Government Savings Bank. The initiative has been titled “Sip Drip Coffee and Go on a Trip to Pang Khon”. University students helped to develop a travel route through the coffee plantations of Pang Khon, and the many homestay operators in the village were pleased to welcome new tourists, including young backpackers with a passion for coffee.
Pangkhon is a 100% Arabica bean coffee, which has been roasted at Cafe Amazon’s roasting facilities in Ayutthaya, Thailand. The first thing that I took notice of during this taste test was the subtle caramel fragrance of the coffee, along with a hint of nuttiness. The taste is low on the bitterness scale, and there is something undulating and full bodied (but not too rich) about the flavor. It’s almost like drinking a coffee infused by Ban Pang Khon’s sea of fog.
Cafe Amazon gives it a 4 rating on the flavor intensity scale, which is how we would rate it too. Pangkhon is a smooth, delicious coffee, and our favorite one to date. It gave us a very slight jittery feeling at first, but that was probably because we were drinking it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. That jittery feeling was brief, followed by a decidedly buoyant feeling perfect for getting the day started.
As a reminder, we are starting our reviews of the best coffee in Thailand with offerings from large coffee providers like Cafe Amazon, so when we move on eventually to the small independent Thai coffee roasters, we will have something to compare them to. Also we are starting with drip coffee that is sold in single use filtered pouches, so that we don’t have to purchase a large amount of each Thai coffee.