Sleepy Starbucks and Caffeinated Sins in Phuket, Thailand

Just because I am on vacation doesn’t mean that I don’t still wake up early and seek out coffee. Apparently, I must be the only one that visits Phuket, Thailand and still desires and espresso at 7 AM. I can wait until 8 AM, but 9 AM? Are they mad? I saw one Starbucks that didn’t open until 10 AM.

Starbucks - Phuket, Thailand
Starbucks – Phuket, Thailand

Starbucks - 9 AM Opening in Thailand
Starbucks – 9 AM Opening in Thailand

I am so fortunate to live in America, where the baristas wake up before me. But I am in Thailand and I still need coffee. What was I to do? A dark thought entered my head and I knew exactly what I had to do. Just like when I visited Montevideo, Uruguay in 2006, I knew there was only one place to get coffee this early. Yes, I went to McDonalds.

McCafe Espresso Machine in Thailand
McCafe Espresso Machine in Thailand

It was just 2 weeks earlier that I was sipping an Ethiopian Harrar Makeda Longberry Single Origin Espresso from Victrola Coffee in Seattle. Now I was entering McCafe. Ah the sins of Thailand. In my defense, I had no option. Bangkok had options, Patong Beach had McDonalds. I turned out to be the only customer they had in the 7 AM hour.

Having been burned by so many awful espressos since arriving in Thailand, I ordered an Americano or as this McCafe calls it, the Long Black. Maybe it was my super low expectations or the fact McDonalds was the only one that was able to lift my tired haze, but I found the quality to be OK. Unlike Starbucks, which has worse quality overseas, I found the McCafe in both Uruguay and Thailand to be superior to the quality of the McCafe in Seattle (Ballard).

McCafe in Thailand
McCafe in Thailand – What is in the background? Answer below.

Thailand is cheap when it comes to food and lodging. It is not cheap when it comes to coffee. In fact, an Americano (aka Long Black) at the McCafe in Phuket was about $3 USD. Over the course of 3 mornings, I spent more money on McCafe coffee than I did food the rest of the day. The shame!

McCafe with a Starbucks in the background
McCafe with a Starbucks in the background

Michael Allen Smith

Michael Allen Smith fell in love with coffee while attending college. Shortly after graduating college, he found himself in the Tampa Bay area far away from the good coffee he had at The Ohio State University. That is when he starting home roasting coffee. Less than a year later in April 1999, he launched the coffee website has been going strong ever since with hundreds of articles and tutorials submitted by over one hundred contributors.

In 2007, Michael moved to America's coffee capitol Seattle, Washington. He has visited close to three hundred different coffee places in Seattle, Portland,Vancouver and San Francisco and met many of the top roasters and baristas in the country. Since 2009, Michael has been the Organizer of the Coffee Club of Seattle, which is a Meetup group of over 800 coffee enthusiasts. Besides the social aspect of the group, the Coffee Club of Seattle partners with local coffee professionals for educational events such as coffee cuppings, brewing demonstrations and roasting tours.

Unrelated to coffee, Michael has a personal blog at which covers several topics including fitness, cooking and economics.

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