While cafe culture has been conquering Bangkok soi by soi for years, from Ari and Thonglor to Sathorn and the old quarter, joining the onslaught is a specialty coffee shop started by two American missionaries who fell in love in Bangkok.
Down the BTS Sukhumvit Line on the fringes of the cosmopolitan frontier, away from the high-rises and tourist attractions, La Mesa Coffee Co. is serving caffeinated drinks made from quality beans, homemade pastries, fusion Mexican and occasional specials in an area better known for its affordable street food.
It’s a little piece of New Mexico – a place best known outside the states for teachers breaking bad and fictional blue meth – in a spacious, renovated shophouse decorated with cactus, pink-hued walls and arches that draw customers to snap a few ‘Grams while waiting. On a recent Saturday, two girlfriends sat quietly by the windows, relying on a heap of natural light to enjoy their books.
The look and feel comes courtesy of the couple behind it, American nationals Gary Ford and Michelle Ford, who came to Bangkok six years ago as missionaries. Checking out cafes in Bangkok for some time (“we went cafe-hopping before knowing what it was,” Gary says), the couple fell for the city’s coffee culture and opened a place of their own in 2018.
“We’ve been blown away from the great response we’ve had from day one,” said Gary, the cafe’s self-taught barista who hails from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
A highlight was a visit from the luminaries behind one of their favorite joints.
“One moment that was really cool was when our friends from Gallery Drip Coffee came for the first time shortly after opening to congratulate us. While brewing them single-origin coffee at our drip bar, just like I had ordered at their cafe so many times before, it hit me how much the tables had truly turned and how ‘real’ it all was that we now own and run a cafe.”
Being in Udom Suk, where the tendrils of cosmopolitan living have extended in recent years, makes it a welcome addition for some residents.
“It always makes us happy when we hear customers talk about how proud they are to have our cafe in Udom Suk as a place to meet up with others for work or to simply chill for a while,” Gary said.
Among the extensive drinks on offer, Gary recommends his signature Mayan Mocha (THB140), which adds a spicy kick to the menu by mixing chocolate with chili pepper and spices, and finished off with a citrusy kiss of orange.
Visiting the cafe one week before Christmas found a few festive dishes created for the season – and still available through February. Among them is The Golden Pig (espresso milkshake, Chinese peanut brittle, brown sugar and cinnamon-braised bacon for THB200) to bid farewell to the year of the pig, while Santa-Rato (THB180) offers a coffee-meets-apple cider combo that plays around with an Italian drip shakerato technique and Christmas spices such as cinnamon and clove. The latter comes served with a cinnamon stick and slice of dried apple. Gary said the holiday dishes are available until new drinks replace them on Valentine’s Day.
Pastries are made in house by Gary’s wife Michelle, thanks to her grandmother’s recipes. A recent visit brought enough luck to score the last piece of Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake (THB180), a show-stopping holiday dessert sure to impress any sweet tooth with its crusty gingersnap, rich pumpkin spice swirl, thick cheese filling and roasted pecans.
Patrons who come in for a real meal won’t be disappointed either, as the cafe has a kitchen to cook Mexican-inspired breakfast dishes from the rustic comfort of the Cowboy Skillet (THB200) to the hearty Huevos Rancheros Skillet (THB260).
La Mesa is open 7:30am to 6pm every day except Sundays. It’s located on Soi Sukhumvit 68 (Soi Sophon) and can be reached by foot from BTS Udom Suk.
La Mesa Coffee Co.
Soi Sukhumvit 68 (Soi Sophon), Bang Na, Bangkok
7:30am – 6pm daily except Sundays
Phone: +6698 101 8865
BTS: Udom Suk
Subscribe to The Coconuts Podcast for top trending news and pop culture from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong every Friday!