Special to Thailandtoday.co
Surrounded by a lush garden planted with flowers, shrubs and shady trees, About Coffee Garden in Lop Buri’s Tha Sala subdistrict, Muang district is a hidden gem and, like most hidden gems, it’s not all that easy to find.
“I needed to live surrounded by nature after working so long in Bangkok. I added the ‘garden’ to my Facebook page’s name About Coffee in 2013, as my café looks like it’s actually in a garden. But it really is all about coffee,” says founder Kwannari Srisopa.
Built mainly of wood and square in shape, the cozy single-storey café boasts two entrances – one on the footbath along the main road and another one at the back in a car park. The front entrance is welcoming with an attractive black metal wall set off by a wooden door and topped with the white sign giving the name.
Go in the back door and you’ll enter a shady garden rich in flora and foliage thoughtfully covered with a cloth screen to stop the worst of the sun, thus making it perfect to relax with a cup of coffee amidst nature in the morning and in the evening.
The interior is warm with the walls decorated in earth tones and plain wood tables and chairs. Daylight streams in through the windows both front and back. In the corner to the left is a professional coffee machine and assorted equipment in front of two messages written on the wall: “Start your day with a good coffee and with a positive thought” and “believe in yourself.”
“We did it by ourselves, from sourcing the materials and decorations as well as the interior design. What’s beautiful? That, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. The position of a vase is an example. You might say it would look good over there. And I would answer that I like it here,” says Kwannari.
About Coffee Garden isn’t only all about coffee and also about passion.
“It is so hard to start a coffee shop business because there is so much competition. It is also a high-risk investment. Today, there are many coffee shops in Lop Buri. Consumers know more about coffee that in the past and want only the best. Some coffee shops don’t last long as they just cannot meet market demand. Running this kind of business requires patience and effort as well as good personnel management,” says Kwannari.
“Americano is the best-seller here, because we use different types of coffee beans from around the world to present to our customers. We have a lot of signature cups of coffee based on Americano type,” she adds. “We’ve also created some new and refreshing drinks.”
About Coffee Garden offers a small selection of Thai dishes including fried rice pork and prawn with chilli oil and sweet basil leaves” (Bt79), “spaghetti – stir fried sweet basil prawn with roasted chilli paste” (Bt95), “spicy holy basil with salted fish” (Bt79) and “crispy fried shrimp salad” (Bt159). Crispy chicken is also on the menu and there’s even a dish of the month, which changes regularly. Little wonder then that About Coffee Garden was awarded Wongnai’s User Choice in 2019.
A former executive with a coffee company in Bangkok, Kwannari set up the coffee shop with her friend Pattamapa Chumuenwai, the second-place finisher at the 2015 National Thailand Barista Championship. And despite the ups and downs, what keeps her going is a true passion for coffee.
“Business fluctuates, because there are many coffee shops in Lop Buri. But no matter how tired or despondent I feel, I remind myself that there are always risks in life. Mindset is probably the most important thing in achieving success, and I often tell my staff that the best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today,” says Kwannari.
She says her time in public relations and marketing in the coffee business taught her a lot about roasting beans and coffee machines and while she doesn’t give any names, she does let it slip that the company was the organizer of the National Thailand Barista Championship.
“I also learnt about administration in addition to what types of coffee beans are used internationally. My passion in coffee became stronger, after I became involved in the management of the barista competition. My entire experience is what’s brought me to this coffee shop today,” says Kwannari. “I choose sincerity as my strategy.”