One thing most visitors to Khao Lak miss when away from home is a really decent cup of coffee.
It is a question frequently asked,
Where can I get a good coffee?
Khao Lak specialises in its own unique beverages, fresh fruit shakes, exotic cocktails and an assortment of Thai whiskies and rums. Coffee, unfortunately, isn’t a local speciality.
Khao Lak and Thailand as a whole has embraced instant nescafe coffee, whitened with powdered milk and served in a tiny cup. It has become the norm. A few places try to up the standard and serve a generic, mass produced fresh coffee that also fails to make the grade. At least the grade set by a true coffee lover.
Coffee connoisseurs would therefore be surprised to learn that Thailand is completely underrated when it comes to coffee beans.
Café Aon in Bang Niang has discovered this and serves one of the best cups of coffee around.
There, your quest for the perfect cup of coffee can end with a visit to Café Aon. For Aon and Felix, however, the quest was somewhat longer involving hardship, early mornings, late nights and even a stint in the circus.
About Café Aon
Aon, the café’s owner, is from Surin in the far north east of Thailand, an area called Isan. With few employment possibilities she left her home to seek work in Buri Ram which is 377 kms north east from Bangkok. Over the next 10 years she learnt how to cook north eastern style Thai cuisine form a friend in a small restaurant at the local market.
Aon then spent some time in Bangkok working in a large Chinese restaurant. She even found herself working a stint as a builder in her effort to raise and support her family.
Aon moved back to Buri Ram once again to work, this time as a cleaner. It was during this time she had a telephone conversation with a friend in Khao Lak who told Aon of the great employment opportunities in Khao Lak.
Aon moved to Khao Lak around two and a half years ago, following her friend’s advice. She found work as a waitress in Khao Lak’s famous Mexican restaurant, the Rusty Pelican.
Coffee had yet to come into Aon’s life, hardly surprising for someone who doesn’t actually like coffee. But it was about to.
Coffee entered Aon’s life when she met Felix. They met not long after Felix arrived in Khao Lak. Felix doesn’t like coffee either, he adores it.
Felix had spent the last eight years travelling the world, cooking and gathering experience along the way.
Felix got the job and ran away with the circus, spending the next two years with the Circus Soleil travelling through Europe.
Feeling lucky with an application form once more, Felix applied for a scholarship with Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Sydney. Fortune, favouring the brave, landed at Felix’s feet once more and after nine and a half months he finished not only top of the class, but as one of the best ever city graduates. Something he describes as a very fortunate coincidence.
Next Felix had to endure a job working with the renowned Chef Romeo as a garde manger who taught Felix one extremely important lesson, that,
“the search for perfection, the thing that distinguishes a mediocre chef from a great chef is the fact that the great chef never lets go”
This took a while to sink in, but after a daily nine to five dose of verbal abuse from the master chef Felix learnt that everything had to be perfect, every little thing. He learnt attention to detail.
At last we will meet coffee on this quest. It was in Australia that Felix met the love of his life, coffee.
When Felix wasn’t working he would sit in the small coffee shops of Sydney and Melbourne reading and people watching.
“That’s when you learn about good coffee“, explains Felix.
After moving to Khao Lak, Felix soon noticed there wasn’t really any good coffee available in the area, mainly due to the lack of decent coffee beans.
Around this time Aon was growing tired of always being an employee, she needed her own business. Working as a local holiday representative, Felix was no longer in the food industry and therefore losing his passion.
He loves to talk about food, eat food and drink coffee.
Coffee keeps me alive
So with Aon needing a business of her own and Felix needing a behind the scenes position that fulfilled his love of coffee and passion for the food industry, they decided to open Café Aon.
And the quest began, the quest for the perfect coffee bean.
Quest for Coffee
Aon scoured Thailand trying to find the perfect coffee bean. She ordered beans from all over the country. Eventually she found her bean. She found one coffee bean farmer north of Chiang Rai in the Golden Triangle region bordering China and Myanmar.
Felix describes the bean as probably one of the best single origin beans he has ever tried, a Doi Chaang coffee bean.
Aon knew she had found her coffee. What was also very important is where the coffee bean comes from, the community who roast it. The bean ticked all the right boxes, the community where the beans are grown, harvest the bean themselves and send it directly to Café Aon.
Fair trade is important to Aon and her coffee doesn’t get any fairer. She supports a hill tribe community in the true meaning of fair trade.
Having found the beans the quest now gets difficult. Good coffee machines are very expensive in Thailand, more so than in other parts of the world. Also, none are available in southern Thailand. Eventually Aon found a good Italian coffee machine suitable for the job in Chiang Rai.
Aon had found her beans, obtained the coffee machine, found her shop and had all the furniture. Yet she still did not open for a further six weeks. Friends were beginning to make jokes about the delays.
Aon and Felix’s relationship took a funny turn. At first Aon was impatient to open but when everything was in place she took over Felix’s perfectionism he had learnt in the food industry.
Aon would wake up early and start banging out coffees, one after the other trying to perfect her coffee. Not satisfied she kept going, adjusting the coarseness of the grind, the water temperature, the pressure of the steam. Aon went through fifteen kilograms of coffee and countless litres of milk, all of which went down the drain trying to perfect her product.
At last, one day it clicked, the coffee was perfect. Café Aon opened.
Boom! Things moved very quickly. The moment people found out there was good coffee, the crowds started to flock to Café Aon. A few guests were even quite angry, angry they had spent two weeks in Khao Lak drinking nescafe and only finding Café Aon on the last day of their holiday.
Where is Café Aon
Café Aon is situated on the Bang Niang Beach Road not far from the main Highway Four, next door to Pirate Divers.
Café Aon Map
When Can I Go to Café Aon?
|High Season||Low Season|
8:00 – 14:00 and 16:00 – 20:00
8:00 – 14:00
There’s discount for regulars too, buy nine drinks and get your next one free.
It is important to know that it is Café Aon and not Café Felix as it is Aon who builds the relationships with her customers, who makes the shop homely. A good coffee shop is not only about the coffee, it’s about the flair of the venue. Café Aon is a great coffee shop to spend some time soaking up the atmosphere of Bang Niang.
Contact Café Aon
You can contact Aon directly on +66 (0) 93 710 7544 or check out her Facebook page.