Third Wave Coffee in Taipei: What, Where and How?
PurelyCoffeeBeans reckons you don't have to be without your Third Wave Coffee in Taipei! That's true even if it's 7a.m. and it's already fricking hot outside, you really don't need to be struggling to make your coffee!
One of the joys of living in Taipei means you can rediscover your love of coffee beans, take part in the dynamic coffee environment in Taipei, and enjoy great local coffee!
What I will learn about coffee in Taipei, Taiwan
- Where can I find Third Wave coffee
- How do you grind your coffee?
- What's in that hopper? Should you care?
- Where can I buy Third Wave coffee in Taipei?
- How do you make coffee using Third Wave coffee making methods?
Where can I find Third Wave coffee in Taipei?
The arrival of coffee shops like Cama Coffee, Louisa Coffee, Willbeck and Zhanlu Coffee has brought good third wave coffee even closer to homes and workplaces. For coffee lovers like yourself, better drinks, better prices, better products, and better locations are only a short trip away. We'll take a look at some of the roasters who are roasting, blending and brewing your next cup of Third Wave Coffee in Taipei.
i. Cama Coffee (cama現烘咖啡)
You may recognize its distinctive cream yellow color, cute cartoon statue, Cama Coffee has made a real impact on Taipei's coffee scene. Their relentless pursuit of quality roasting and brewing has brought them awards and recognition for their Italian and Pomona Blends by Coffee Review and for their drinks.
When you visit their stores, you're see the coffee roaster churning, a barista noting details of the roast or sorting by hand each and every coffee bean. The divine aroma of their signature roast wafts through the air. You'll be able to buy a consistently excellent drink whichever branch you go to. And you'll also find coffee beans, coffee making equipment, and a source of great advice.
Locations: All over Taipei
Prices: $ affordable
For sale: Coffee & Equipment
Website: Cama Cafe
ii. Louisa Coffee (路易莎咖啡)
Branches of Louisa coffee shop have popped up all over the city in the past two years. The coffee shop is recognizable with its orange and white logo of a silhouette lady. The stores come in a variety of sizes and styles, so you should find a place to sit at the bigger locations.
Louisa Coffee has brewed its way into the stomachs of people all over with its large range of flavored Latte drinks, specialty hand-brewed coffee, sandwiches or bagels, and a rather tasty selection of baked goods. Staff assure me that the baked goods are handmade at their kitchens. For the home coffee lover, there's also a decent selection of freshly roasted coffee as well as a small selection of coffee tools.
Locations: All over Taipei
Prices: $ affordable
For sale: Coffee & Some Equipment
Website: Louisa Cafe
iii. Willbeck (威爾貝克手烘咖啡)
Willbeck's coffee shop is also becoming a popular choice. But with fewer locations than either Louisa or Cama, you'll have to travel a little to find a store. Very much a coffee-to-go place, their unique selling point is that their coffee is really well-made.
They sell a range of coffee drinks, as well as a decent selection of coffee beans including: Colombia Snow Cap, Ethiopian Djimmah, Kirimara Estate Coffee from Kenya.
Wow! Does Wilbeck make a great cappuccino! Nice Italian style espresso, topped with well-steamed milk & froth. Top notch! I have lots more at Instagram. So join me!
Locations: Five Taipei locations incl. #26-7 Xinyang Street, Taipei City
Prices: $ affordable
For sale: Coffee & Some Equipment
Website: Wilbeck Coffee
iv. Zhan Lu Coffee (湛盧咖啡)
Zhanlu Coffee shops, though fewer, occupy a higher end place in the market. It's quite a treat to sit in and have coffee hand poured at your table. Zhanlu strives to craft its own in-house blends and brands itself as a premium coffee shop.
With so many blends on sale, first choosing a roast (light, medium or dark) or region (Central America, Africa or Asia) or a price range (upto NT$500, NT$500~1000 or NT$1000~1500) will make your selection process much easier.
Locations: Six locations in Taipei, including #2, Lane 284, Roosevelt Road, Section 3, Taipei City. (台北市中正區羅斯福路3段284巷2號)
Prices: $$~$$$ more expensive ~ premium
For sale: Coffee & Equipment
Website: Zhanlu Coffee
v. Fika Fika Cafe
Fika Fika Coffee is a Swedish style coffee roaster and cafe with only one location. It brings a Scandinavian sensibility to coffee in Taipei, with its emphasis on Arabica-based espresso. It's a true coffee shop with topnotch equipment and coffee too match. For the home front, there aren't so many choices but you will find the quality well worth the purchase, especially if you enjoy espresso.
Location: #33, Yitong Street, Taipei City. (台北市伊通街33號)
For sale: Coffee, desserts, snacks, and coffee beans
Website: Fika Fika Cafe
vi. Moreway Coffee (摩威咖啡館)
This store is a personal favorite for its range of coffee, stock of coffee equipment, and its personable owner. There is only one location in Tienmu but it's well worth the trip. It started out life as a restaurant, like the owner of Cama Coffee, but slowly evolved into a coffee specialist with its in-house coffee roasting.
The owner loves to roast and retail a wide range of coffee from their own House blend or Italian roast to a fine selection of regional varieties, such as Colombian or Guatemalan. He also roasts more expensive Indian Malabar, Panama Geisha. It is all freshly roasted.
Location: #2, Lane 21, Huangsi Street, Taipei City. (台北市磺溪街21巷2號)
For sale: Coffee, coffee beans, coffee equipment
vii. San Coffee (森高砂咖啡館)
San Coffee (森高砂咖啡館) is located at . It's near the Dihua Shopping Area, so a trip there can easily be combined with a fine coffee! I should really add it to my recent post about cafes in Taipei! With an impressive array of coffee grown around the island, I counted more than a dozen different locales.
Most coffee here is sold as drip, and prices are relatively more expensive because, for the most part, supplies are quite restricted. I don't think they blend with cheaper imported coffee... but ask. Roasts tend to be lighter towards medium roast (not Starbucks medium, by any means). Staff are knowledgeable and informative about their coffees, but there is a relatively high minimum spend. Good environment for introducing yourself to local coffee (and local tastes) as many Google reviewers mention! Enjoy!
Location: #1, Section 2, Yanping North Road, Datong District, Taipei City, 103. (103台北市大同區延平北路二段1號)
For sale: Coffee drinks and edibles, coffee beans, coffee equipment
How do you grind and prepare coffee?
If you prefer to grind regularly so that your coffee is as fresh as possible, you'll need to buy your own grinding equipment. Most coffee shops sell grinding equipment, so buy the best you can afford, a proper burr grinder. The burrs will crush the beans gently to the right size, producing a more consistent quality of coffee.
You can buy a simple hand-grinder with quality ceramic burrs for less than NT$1000. This will take you a couple of minutes to grind up the coffee. Choosing a full size electric ceramic burr grinder is also an option for those with a bigger budget. Of course, prices are a little higher than in the US; but the convenience of quick grinding will easily win you over. Prepare to pay from NT$2500 upwards for a grinder from 'Flying Horse', Capresso, and Baratza.
What's in that hopper? Third Wave Coffee in Taipei is available!
That is the NT$500 question! You could simply hop over to Starbucks, and buy a bag of their Caffe Verona, Italian Roast, … but how fresh is that? Roasted months ago before enduring a long sea-voyage in hot metal containers… how fresh can it really be?
Taipei has gone way beyond the very traditional Japanese-era roasts of Brazilian, Ethiopian, and Mandheling or such to embrace a wide range of roasting styles, regions and methods. Freshly roasted coffee smells great and tastes great. Cama Cafe has won plaudits for its Pomona Coffee Blend, Louisa Coffee sells Kenyan Dorman. You'll find decent Colombian coffees from different regions and estates. Moreway sells great Indian Malabar in season, as well as fresh delightful Guatemala. Zhanlu is harder to pin down but I prefer their darker roasts.
Buying coffee beans locally
It's not just roasting, but Taiwan also has a long history of growing coffee that reached a peak during the Japanese colonial period when coffee was grown as a cash crop for export to Japan. The influence in how coffee was drunk here remained for a long time. However, the small volumes of coffee grown mean that prices are high, with prices rivalling Panama Geisha, Jamaican Blue Mountain or the finer Hawaiian grades. Consider it like proper estate coffee.
Gukeng Coffee, from Yunlin County, is the pre-eminent local coffee growing region, but beware adulteration with much cheaper Vietnamese or Indonesian coffee. But you will also find other areas around Taiwan experimenting with coffee growing including: Alishan in Chiayi, Dongshan in Greater Tainan, Taiwu County in Pingtung, and even Chishang in Taidung.
Most coffee is grown locally in these areas, roasted locally, and sold for markets in the Western parts of Taiwan. Very little goes for export because of the lack of volume, but growing coffee here is as much for love as for commercial success because of the long lead times needed from planting to first harvest.
Finding Ground or Whole Bean Coffee in Supermarkets - Update January 2020!
However, and it's a big however, finding decent whole bean coffee that is fairly recently roasted in supermarkets is quite difficult. Actually, it's still quite difficult to find ANY kind of whole OR ground coffee in most supermarkets, never mind Third Wave coffee! For example, ...
- PXmarts may stock some local roasts like Mr. Brown, Barista, etc. if you're lucky. Even Illy, Lavazza or Starbucks can be found on occasion. BUT their frequent sales tend to attract only discount shoppers, so finding the coffee you want is a struggle!
- PurelyCoffeeBeans recommends: Try but don't expect too much!
- Wellcome Supermarkets typically only stock instant coffee. Wellcome is a purist's coffee desert now.
- PurelyCoffeeBeans recommends: Don't bother unless your local branch is an exception ... unlikely!
- Jason's Market imports and sells a range of coffee. You might even score some whole beans. Go to Jason's Market instead!
- PurelyCoffeeBeans recommends: Worth a trip or two, but their coffee can be more expensive!
- Carrefour is uneven, too. The big branches of Carrefour stock some coffee beans or ground coffee; but many smaller branches stick to the instant stuff. Apart from their own brand, their selection varies throughout the year.
- PurelyCoffeeBeans recommends: Worth a trip or two to stock up, esp. on own brand products!
- RTMart in Tucheng often has a reasonable selection of coffee at good prices. Its difficult location means you need to live nearby or travel by MRT. Other branches are much less useful.
- PurelyCoffeeBeans recommends: Worth it if you're nearby! Otherwise don't bother!
- CitySuper or other department store type supermarkets may have coffee beans or ground coffee, so it's worth checking.
- PurelyCoffeeBeans recommends: Definitely check for brands that you may like!
- Costco Stores operate five locations in the Taipei area: Hsichih, Zhonghe, Neihu, Nangang, and Beitou. You'll find popular brands like Kirkland coffee, Starbucks, and Magnum Roasters on sale there.
In all cases, if you're going to buy coffee at the supermarkets or department stores... check the bags for sealing, make sure the coffee is as fresh as can be expected (not very), and that you're not overpaying for an average brew!
In general, the best coffee beans and ground coffee come from local coffee chains, like Louisa Coffee, Cama, or the local roasters or independent coffee shops mentioned elsewhere in this article. You may feel they are expensive by international standards, and you'd be right. But that is true for most coffee sold in Taiwan.
How do you make coffee using Third Wave methods?
The simplest methods for making coffee are the best, but the variables are always the same: coffee roast, grounds size, time, and heat. So whichever method you choose to brew, you will need a timer, a small scale, a thermometer and a water pot.
i. Hario V60 Drip Filter: Pour Over Method
V60 first produced by Hario, of Japan, is a really popular drip filter for making coffee these days. Its unique design features a hole at the bottom of its conical shape with ridges inside that will improve water flow and extraction. The paper filters are the same pointed shape.
The V60 produces a much finer drink, accommodates many different coffee types and roasts, is easy to use for making coffee, and has an easy clean-up regimen. If you know how to make coffee in a traditional drip filter, then you can use the V60 as it just requires refinements of your technique and a little bit of time.
ii. French Press: Soak and Filter
The French Press is a popular way to make a small pot of coffee, one that you will find easy for making coffee, dispensing and cleaning. The French Press pots glistens in the light, begging to be filled with coarsely ground coffee and hot water. With the plunger extended, the pots just sits for 3~4 minutes, almost as long as the anticipation can bear. Finally, the plunger is pushed carefully into the dark steamy liquid, right to the bottom. Then its goodness can be dispensed.
You can brew most kinds of coffee in it, if you pay attention to the size of coffee grinds. Don't grind too big, the coffee will come out weak and nasty; don't grind too fine, it will come out like mud. Most commercially ground coffee isn't really suitable for the French press because you end up with a solution of slightly gritty coffee.
iii. Coffee Drip Bags
Coffee Drip Bags have become really popular. Most major coffee brands in Taiwan have now developed their own line of products. A coffee filter bag is a little sachet of coffee presented in its own bag/filter, wrapped in a foil paper to preserve its freshness. Once the foil covered is opened, the sachet pops out. Each side has one flap that pulls out. Across the top center, there is usually a mark to tear open the coffee itself. Once the bag is opened, and the flaps extended, the drip bag can be fixed over a cup ready for dripping in a mini-filter fashion.
These are usually sold in convenience stores in single packs or small boxes for between NT$20 and NT$40. Each sachet contains about 10 grams of coffee. The simple design and methods are perfect for offices, workplaces and homes where convenience is important. If you look in quality supermarkets and coffee supplies stores, you can also find coffee drip bags for filling with your own favorite coffee. Ideal if you can't find a decent coffee blend in the commercial packs.
iv. Cold Brew What?
If you've never tried cold brew coffee, you've never lived. With nearly all the essential volatiles that create flavor preserved but low on acid or oil, cold brew coffee is a taste sensation when served with crushed ice.
Made with cold water, not hot; the secret to successful cold brew is time which eliminates bitterness that you associate with iced coffee. It's not bitter, at all. You can find it in local coffee shops, but look for one that filters the coffee through a traditional cold brew system. Usually there is only a limited quantity because it can take 8~12 hours to prepare.
There are a few cold brew kits available on the market for you to make at home easily. Most kits here retail for about NT$500 to NT$1000, and are simple to use so you don't have to worry too much if the instructions are in Japanese. Remember the grind will be similar to French press coffee, so you can't use preground coffee as it's too fine.
v. Siphon Coffee
Siphon coffee, also known as the vacuum coffee, makes the best coffee you've ever had, but the system is not for novices. In fact, to appreciate the art of siphon coffee, you have to find a coffee shop that still prepares it for there is a lot of drama and expertise in making coffee in such a beautiful way. Look for a branch of Key Coffee or an old school coffee shop.
The siphon produces a wonderful cup of coffee that is full of flavor and aroma, without any bitterness. It is also a portable but fragile unit because of the glass bulbs. It is best appreciated as a cultural icon, but totally unsuitable for making coffee before work.
VI. Go Forth! Enjoy Grinding and Brewing Third Wave Coffee!
Taipei is no longer just the home of cheap coffee from Brazil or Indonesia. Coffee culture has arrived with modern methods, the latest drinks, and artisan roasters, but you can still find tradition here, too. Enjoy your coffee in Taipei, whether you are grinding and brewing third wave coffee or just buying it in the excellent coffee shops!
I'm hoping to keep this article fairly recent. So I welcome feedback, comments and suggestions on your experiences buying coffee here!
Kenneth Dickson started drinking cappuccino at Luvian's Coffee Shop thirty years ago and hasn't stopped drinking, making and writing about coffee ever since. Taipei is becoming his coffee heaven! This article first appeared in "Centered on Taipei" February, 2017. It has been adapted, updated, and presented here for coffee lovers in Taipei! 😀