By Alisha Pawa
Nuttawan “Yui” Supapong has always been a curious soul. With backgrounds in chemical engineering and culinary training, Yui was intrigued about honey’s chemical compounds and began to research how it’s harvested.
Eventually, she left her 9-to-5 job in finance to dive deep into the honey production process.
“I visited a lot of farms [in Thailand and abroad] to research honey. Studying it only triggered more questions,” Yui said.
Last year she quietly opened Honeyful in the buzzing cafe scene of Soi Sukhumvit 24 with a unique mission: Encouraging people to experiment with honey and make it an essential part of their everyday lives.
The cafe boasts a beehive-like, hexagon-shaped dome and brims with golden tones like light wood decor and tall windows that let in natural light. The look and feel may form a visual link to the honey-based treats the cafe serves, but the dedication goes beyond the decor.
Scientific wonder was just the beginning for Yui. She questioned why Bangkok’s F&B scene had overlooked the amber-hued nectar.
“We have specialty coffee spots and ramen-dedicated places,” she noted, but no places, apart from cocktail bar Asia Today, had devoted themselves to the intricacies of honey.
After two years researching and sourcing honey from around the world, Yui finally turned her dream into reality last year by opening Honeyful.
Creating a honey-tasting menu was one of the first things planned when the cafe opened, but that was put on hold because of the pandemic and the restrictions placed on cafes like hers to combat it. Yui and her team held their first workshop, “Honeyful Adventures Series 1.” They gathered honey enthusiasts together for a tasting of four different honeys, highlighting their different flavors and aromas.
“The two things we focused on are knowing where the honey has been sourced from and how to use it in a way that enhances the food experience,” she explained.
Yui said it’s a common misconception that honey will overpower the fragrance of other ingredients. That is why some people avoid using it in their cooking. But identifying the right honey can transform the culinary experience when you’re equipped with the right knowledge. “For instance, while you’d think honey-lemon is an obvious match, you’d be surprised that not every type of honey pairs with lemon,” she said.
At Honeyful, Yui sources from ethical beekeepers in Chiang Rai, Australia, the United States, Canada, and Japan. “Honey doesn’t have to be expensive [to be good]. It just has to be natural and sourced from the farm,” she said.
The shop currently offers Honeyful Remedies, a menu based on her collection of monofloral honey. The Honeyful Honey Manuka (THB185) served with almond milk and Manuka latte (THB160), which highlights Australian Manuka honey in a drink made with locally sourced coffee and milk, are popular choices. The honey-infused yuzu cheesecake (THB150) is not to be missed, either.
As honey varies year to year depending on where it’s harvested, Yui says she will revamp the menu on a seasonal basis. The cafe also sells different types of natural honey with instructions on how to pair them at home.
When asked about the future plans, Yui said she hopes to bring honey into more homes. “We want to offer more tips on honey pairings via videos, and we want to provide more educational events,” she notes. “When our second collection of honey comes out, we’ll add more to the menu; we haven’t been able to do that yet as the pandemic has restricted us from traveling out of the country to source honey.”
Even though Honeyful opened right before the pandemic upended the world last year, Yui feels she’s on the right path with her mission to champion honey in Bangkok’s saturated F&B scene. At least, she said, “we certainly have a better understanding of what our customers enjoy.”
“We had few customers who were not honey eaters,” she said. “They possibly had a bad experience with honey or may have tried low-quality honey, but when they tried the honey here, their perspectives changed. Now, they are regulars.”
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