In not-so-leafy Bangkok suburbia, La Mesa Coffee Co. is the latest arrival on a growing coffee scene in the up-and-coming Udomsuk neighbourhood.
Open since early April 2018, La Mesa is located on Sukhumvit Soi 68, minutes on foot from BTS Udomsuk Skytrain station. Affable American owners Michelle and Gary have spent months transforming the ground floor of a shophouse – on the corner of a smaller, local-feeling side-street – into a modern, attractive coffee shop.
Heaps of natural light streams in through the stylish, industrial-feel windows that cover both the front and side walls, and the space is subtly yet neatly divided up between zones of sofa-like wooden benches with low tables – perfect for casual catch-ups with friends – and tables and higher bar spots that lend themselves to setting up shop for a spell of work. (There was no wi-fi at launch time, but it’s on the way.)
Interior decor at first seems simple enough, but the attraction is indeed in the clean lines and bright colours, and the level of design detail runs deeper than first impressions perhaps suggest. Highlights include a gorgeous front and top to the bar counter, and an exotic-feeling, all-pink, Instagram-friendly accent wall, complete with inviting arched seating nooks that are begging for selfie poses (on launch day, La Mesa‘s first customers responded to that call in their droves).
Two things about La Mesa stand out as refreshing, and set it apart in the crowded Bangkok coffee shop scene: it’s both larger than most, and open much earlier. La Mesa is notably bigger than comparable coffee shops both in the immediate surrounding area and in downtown Bangkok and, even once it beds in and increases in popularity, it’s hard to imagine finding a table here will be all that difficult.
But perhaps best of all are the opening hours. La Mesa is currently in soft launch, meaning it’s possible (and understandable) that things may change once the owners are able to more accurately gauge demand after a few months of operations – but its current 7.30am opening time is nevertheless a breath of fresh air to those of us who find ourselves forever exasperated at the fact that so many Bangkok coffee shops don’t open their doors until 10am, 11am or even lunchtime, in the process so often seeming more like hobby-fulfilling playthings to their rich-kid owners than actual businesses looking to satisfy demand, serve their customers in their hour of caffeine-deprived need, and actually turn a profit.
Crucially, the coffee – roasted by Bangkok’s Hands and Heart – is on point. This is certainly not a joint that pulls you in with impressive faux-Nordic design that implies a promise of a quality product, only to serve up weak, bitter coffee and frothed-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life milk, invariably produced with a push-of-a-button ‘espresso machine’ rather than a barista who knows what he or she is doing – and served up 1990s-style with an obligatory tasteless biscuit and a so-overplayed wooden teaspoon from Chatuchak market.
My perfectly poured flat white (100 baht) gave me the most brief of initial hesitations, when I feared it may have been on the weak side an in need of an extra shot of espresso – but these fears were quickly allayed as my drink developed an earthy, well-rounded flavour. It’s clear, including from overhearing conversations with other customers about the coffee being served, that Gary and Michelle have put in the time and effort to equip both themselves and their new staff with the array of coffee-related knowledge they need to do justice to the cornerstone of their business.
As well as espresso-based drinks, drip coffee is available, alongside more innovative options like coffee sodas and floats. During the soft-launch phase, there’s also a good range of tempting, house-baked cakes and pastries available, like raspberry crumb cake and a particularly irresistible-looking flourless chocolate cake. Prices for both drinks and snacks are roughly comparable to popular downtown spots like Ink & Lion Cafe, while following La Mesa on Facebook or Instagram bags a 10% discount.
In addition, the house-blend coffee – a mix of local Thai and Brazilian beans – is available for retail sale, as is a small selection of accessories, like pour-over coffee makers and handsome, practical and easily transportable, eco-friendly reusable GOAT STORY coffee cups.
La Mesa has all the makings of a success story: friendly owners and staff passionate about excellent coffee, a convenient location in a neighbourhood with an emerging speciality coffee shop scene, bright and breezy decor in a space that’s at once catch-up-, work- and Insta-friendly. It’s a welcome addition to the Udomsuk area, and one of my new local ‘ones to watch’. Recommended.
7/2 Sukhumvit Soi 68 (BTS Udomsuk); www.facebook.com/lamesacoffee
Monday to Saturday, 7.30am-6pm
DISCLOSURE: I visited La Mesa Coffee Co. at my own expense. All opinions are of course my own.
How to get to La Mesa Coffee Co.
If you’re coming from outside the immediate Udomsuk neighbourhood, La Mesa Coffee Co. is ideally located for arriving by public transport. The coffee shop is located just inside Sukhumvit Soi 68 – you can spot it from the main road – and it’s no more than a couple of minutes’ walk from Udomsuk BTS Skytrain station. Bus routes 2, 23, 25, 38, 45, 46, 48, 116, 132, 139, 180, 507, 508 and 511 also pass by the top of Sukhumvit Soi 68, connecting to lower Sukhumvit and elsewhere in downtown Bangkok as well as Samut Prakan. If you’re driving, there are limited on-street parking spots on Sukhumvit Soi 68 and the neighbouring sois.
Where else to eat and drink in and around Udomsuk
Udomsuk is a great area to be hungry – here’s where else I recommend in the neighbourhood:
- TINPRESSO coffee shop
- Bangkok’s best somtum on Udomsuk Soi 19
- Authentic southern Thai mataba
- Roti Fatimah southern Thai curries
- Zinc 101
What to see near Udomsuk
Here’s what to see and do in the up-and-coming Udomsuk area:
Where to stay near La Mesa Coffee Co.
La Mesa Coffee Co. is in the up-and-coming Udomsuk neighbourhood, which in recent years has surged in popularity among overseas visitors as well as both Thais and expats living in the area and commuting downtown. It’s a vibrant, local-feeling area with a renowned street food scene, and being that little bit further out of the city centre (it’s around a 15-minute BTS Skytrain ride to downtown Bangkok) means that hotels in Udomsuk tend to offer slightly better value for money.