February 26, 2021 5 min read
During my trip to Melbourne, Australia, I thought I had found the ultimate coffee culture. But wow, that was before I discovered the coffee culture in Taipei! Even though there are fewer specialized establishments, it is an entire cultural experience for the senses.
I do want to mention one of the highlights of my stay in Taipei was the opportunity to immerse myself in the atmosphere of the traditional tea houses, where I tasted tea made with locally harvested tea leaves (from the Central Mountains). I even took a gondola to the top of the Maokong mountains, in a much more rural setting, to enjoy tea served with a tea set that was worthy of an emperor!
However, as I also mentioned in my article on the coffee culture in Melbourne, most customers are coffee connoisseurs and demand to know everything about their chosen beverage: its origins, the farmer and organic coffee plantation pedigree, the processing methods, the roasting, the brewing, everything really!
All this to make an artisanal brewed coffee and an expertly crafted beverage, whose standards seem to be set in their DNA!
And based on the direct and fairtrade relationship with the producers they use, we might be getting a glimpse into the fourth wave of coffee!
Drip coffee (or hand drip) is an increasingly common term, which demonstrates the growing passion for third wave specialty roasteries. Here we have revived alternative methods, like pour-over coffee and the siphon, for you to consider!
You are probably familiar with the term drip coffee, it’s the type of filter coffee made using a classic coffee maker. You could also technically say that something like a French press, or even a percolator, are also filter coffee makers. So to set a definition here, drip coffee refers to when hot water drips down on top of a filter basket with ground coffee inside, and is then collected in a carafe.
However, pour-over coffee came back into fashion during the third wave of coffee and remains a celebrated method of preparing coffee for real purists. This important and controlled motion, which consists of pouring the hot water onto the ground coffee, which seeps through a filter into a carafe, makes perfect sense. Carefully controlling the flow and the total amount of water, precisely mixing the previously measured grind, as well as adjusting the filter, is nothing short of an art. It is an entirely manual process, and to do it correctly, constant attention is required. The resulting cup of coffee from a well-executed pour will have a more complex flavour, which is the final result of this greater ability to control the variables.
The technique is different from a simple drip coffee made using an automatic coffee maker.
My top pick to get a pour-over coffee in Taipei: San Coffee Boutique Coffeeshop
San Coffee is located in a historical building in the Dadaocheng district, which used to be a British commercial port, and is brimming with Western history. It is locally grown Taiwanese coffee from all around the island, and the staff are real connoisseurs!
During my stay in Taipei I had the opportunity to try, for the very first time I think, a real cold drip coffee which was served with great expertise. I started with this cold drip coffee shot before devouring my pour-over coffee. Cold drip is a technique used to prepare coffee in which cold water slowly drips onto freshly ground coffee. Yes…cold water! Ideally, the brewing process takes between one and twenty-four hours, depending on your flavour preferences. I have to admit I didn’t really know what effects to expect...but I have to say that each time I left the café I was a bit shaky and jittery, but I just couldn’t stop myself!
My top pick to get a cold drip coffee in Taipei: Jiyinn
The best place I found was this small, unremarkable apartment, which didn’t even have a sign to let you know what was behind the door. I was lucky to be travelling with my Taiwanese friend Allan, who made it his mission to take me to these non-commercial locations only the locals know about. It was like getting a drip coffee at home but served by a real connoisseur, while also being surrounded by a few young hipster couples sitting at mismatched tables. I love this type of place, and the feeling of discovering a hidden gem!
[Update: Unfortunately, Jiyinn closed permanently in August 2020.]
Cafe Dogs & Cats (also known as Kitten Coffee Garden) was the first cat café in Taipei, and it also has the most cats! During my visit they had 14 cats and 3 dogs! This unique café is very popular with young couples and groups of girls. The shelves are filled with a ton of cat-themed knick-knacks, and you can feed the cats little snacks prepared by the café, to almost guarantee you will get at least a few minutes of feline friendship. Or, if you’re lucky, a small cat will come sleep in the basket under your table while you sip on an iced coffee!
This is one of the pioneering cafés in the alternative district of the Minsheng Community. This trendy location is hidden down a small alley and it’s where everyone wants to go and chill. Without a doubt, this café is excellent! And as for their mango smoothie, it is beyond delicious.
Their address: No. 353
Their Instagram: @fujintree353_songyan
Their Facebook: @fujintree353cafe
Vagabond Cafe: No. 13, Fushou Street, Taipei
A Loving Café: No. 47, Lane 235, Zhongzheng Road, Shilin District, Taipei
Caffè Libero: No. 1, Lane 243, Jinhua Street, Da’an District, Taipei
Fong Da Coffee: No. 42, Chengdu Road, Wanhua District, Taipei
Good Chos (@goodchos_tw)
Address: No.54, Songqin Street, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
Why not continue your gourmet experience with a homemade bagel at this funky restaurant located in Village 44?
VEGE CREEK Studio (@vegecreekstudio)
Address: No. 2, Lane 129, Yanji Street, Daan District, Taipei, Taiwan 106
Enjoy vegetable and tofu dishes at one of the best vegetarian restaurants in the city with an original concept.
Author of six books, travel columnist, travel consultant, college professor of Tourism Techniques, and lecturer, Ariane Arpin-Delorme is passionate about everything she does. She has travelled to over 80 countries, and has a wide range of experience within the tourism industry: hospitality, tour guiding, charity event coordination, tourism, marketing, promotion, travel planning, and teaching! She founded the tourism agency Parfums d’Asie several years ago and Esprit d’Aventure in 2013, where she continues to work as a custom travel advisor and consultant. She especially loves to hike, bike, scuba dive, and sail!
To get inspired to travel to Taipei and Asia in general, here are a ton of private custom itineraries that Esprit d’Aventure would be happy to help you customize!