It’s easy to let the blues wash over you at Old Town’s Blue Whale Maharaj cafe. The three-story shophouse is decked out in ocean shades from top to toe. Visitors that trek across the city to try one of their indigo drinks — which have spent considerable time in social media limelight — report large crowds lounging, sipping, and snapping pics at the hipster hangout, tucked down an alley on Rattanakosin Island, but just steps away from the Grand Palace and Wat Po.
The cafe has been open for nearly two years and made a splash on social media for its Insta-worthy blue Butterfly Pea Latte (THB90/US$2.7). There was just one issue — the lattes weren’t coffee, they were anchan tea mixed with milk, which looked pretty but left caffeine fans hanging. Anchan, known as butterfly pea in English, is a member of the legume family whose leaves are often used to make traditional Thai drinks.
When we heard that Blue Whale had finally introduced a real blue latte – Cold Blue Coffee (THB150/US$4.5), a cold brew with homemade vanilla syrup, milk, and a butterfly pea petal on top — we knew it was time to make the trip and brave the lines.
As already gathered from a social media gander, the cafe is gorgeous: blue, rustic, and ultra-charming. The whale murals on the walls were done by one of the three owners — three young guys that are also close friends.
We had a chance to sit down with one of the trio, Akapoch “Best” Teerapongsakorn, who explained that blue is the favorite color of all three owners. From there, they tried to think of things that were blue to complete their theme. The cafe came close to having a blue jeans or indigo-dying theme — but they settled on whales.
As we explored, we found one wall completely covered in ombré fish scale-shaped tiles in blue and green. The second floor has a shallow but sweet balcony with room for just three of four people while the third floor features a ceiling of skylights and floor seating that allows guests to lounge in the sun while sipping sky-colored refreshments.
You can also get other kinds of drinks here, served in their expected colors. They offer a Salted Caramel Chocolate Latte (THB120/US$3.6), Mocha Grass Jelly (THB140/US$4.2), or Soy Red Bean Frappe (THB140/US$4.2), alongside a whole host of standard coffee beverages. There are also a smattering of food items: Toast with Blueberries and Mascarpone (THB130/US$3.9), Pancakes with Smoked Salmon (THB220/US$6.6) or Penne Green Curry Beef (THB220/US$6.6) but let’s be real: Most people are coming to try the blue drinks.
Akapoch explained to Coconuts how they make their newest blue offering.
“We steep the coffee in cold water, like all cold brew. Normally we’d use plain water to extract the coffee, but with this drink we use water dyed blue with butterfly pea and leave it steeping for up to 48 hours.”
The drink is not pre-mixed, so customers can tell the barista how sweet they want their blue brew, but Akapoch admitted that the butterfly pea does affect the taste slightly, affording it a slightly nutty flavor that you might simply attribute to the coffee beans used if the drink wasn’t blue.
Though we enjoyed the drink, agreeing with Akapoch that it’s more refreshing than a standard cold brew, he admitted that not everyone that tries it finds it a winner.
One word of warning: It will leave you with a whale-hued tongue.
Blue Whale Maharaj
392/37 Maharaj Road
Open daily 10am-8pm, closed Thursdays
Cab from MRT Hua Lampong