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Koh Tao is a sub-district of Koh Phangan in the province of Surat Thani, and the name means 'Turtle Island' in English for the association of the island with the inhabitation of sea turtles. While they are not as abundant as they were in the past, in some places, such as Thian Og Bay, you can still find green and hawksbill turtles today. When viewed from Koh Phangan, the island's shape is often assumed to resemble a turtle. With its spectacular coral reefs and plentiful marine life in clear, warm water, the island's natural beauty both above and below the water brings thousands of tourists here each year, making it an unforgettable destination for divers, explorers and travellers alike. This has drawn people here for over 40 years and is now a warm second home for many, combined with the relaxed environment and lifestyle. Koh Tao has grown in several ways and is now one of the world's leading centres for diving education, with its flourishing diving industry. Diving and exploring the island is tiring work and you might want to stop for a coffee along the way or to start with breakfast.
You don't have to waste much time strolling the streets of Thailand to find iced coffee along with condensed milk, mini Nescafe espresso cans or a cappuccino straight up. A very big part of Thai life nowadays is the coffee scene.
Of course, if you're in one of the major tourist centres, never far from Starbucks, the national chains of the world pop up all over the place. Yet, there are also some amazing independent cafés. Be sure to try the street vendors' freshly made, ice-cool coffees too!
Arabica beans are now the spinner of Thailand's resources, but at first, the Robusta plant was the chosen bean. This is because farmers have to clear large swaths of the rainforest quickly in order to set up crops. As the culture of coffee has evolved and the quality has become more distinct, the higher-yielding bean has fallen out of favour.
Today, the agriculture of Thailand relies on the more exportable Arabica beans. The flavour of the bean is much cleaner, sweeter and tastier than the Robusta one. As the business continued to grow, larger businesses began exploiting the land and farmers. Thankfully, more and more people have begun to see the advantages of transparent and fair trading. This implies that for the job they do, more and more local producers earn adequate pay.
This quaint spot towards the east end of the island is just far enough away from the main drag that, while still easily visible, it feels secretive and concealed. The broad variety of plant-based dining choices, including their in-house coconut milk, homemade kombucha, fruity smoothie bowls, and teas and herbal tonics, will delight vegans. Of course, good coffee is also available.
Coconut Monkey, made from beachside repurposed bamboo, oozes with comfort and character. The coffee is good, they make their in-house coconut and almond milk, and they also have a wide range of loose leaf tea, along with information on the health benefits of each variety. Have a sweet tooth? Coconut Monkey maintains a fridge full of homemade bites like crack cookies, salted caramel cheesecake, or vegan Snickers bars. All are made with ingredients that are fresh, organic, and mostly plant-based, so you can snack away without remorse.
Don't let the name fool you, while the Beer Masons have the best craft beer range on the island, it serves up the Nitro Cold Brew of Koh Tao by day. By carefully injecting nitrogen into the brew, this coffee is made, which gives it a smooth, velvety texture and emphasizes sweet undertones. They also have a full organic coffee menu and Indian-inspired breakfast items available from Shalimar Indian Cuisine, the adjacent restaurant.
Zest has been serving some of Koh Tao's most reliably high-quality breakfast for years, a long-time local staple. Its location in Mae Haad is right on the main street, tucked away from the busy city centre, offering great people watching. Over in Sairee, the cafe is off the beachside of a quieter, relaxed street. Every location also opens early so that those early scuba boats can catch some food and coffee!
Big Bite is a trendy, family-run restaurant and cafe with excellent brewed cups of coffee, appropriately tucked away in the south, more boho tip of the island. Try the home-brewed kombucha, or cool off with one of their delicious smoothies and fruit and vegetable juices.
Cafe Culture steps literally off the sand, making it easy to laze away while admiring its stunning views. Nice coffee, juices, and ice cream shakes are available in the cafe to boot. Don't miss out on their cheesecake with passionfruit!
Koppee Cafe is a great place to stop on your way to beach adventures in the south of the island, perched by the pool along peaceful Chalok Beach. Try their coffee on fresh fruit salads or freshly baked bread and cakes while nibbling, and check the baby green sea turtle sanctuary which is just next door between cups. These turtles are part of head-starting conservation initiative to raise the turtles during their first year of life, the most dangerous year, in a secure environment and release them into the waters of Koh Tao once they are strong and healthy enough to survive on their own.
With a sister shop in Chalok, this cute and trendy French-owned cafe is perched right in the heart of Mae Haad, offering good value coffee and beverages and a wide range of snacks and menu items. From hearty bread and bagels to decadent brownies and cookies, they specialize in freshly made baked goods as well.
Blue Water is a massive, spacious property located on the beachside off Sairee's main drag, with plenty of beachfront seating as well as an upstairs terrace and rooftop area that each catches a lovely sea breeze as you look out over the action below. With choices like French Press or Hario V60 Drip coffee and a good sampling of loose leaf teas, its artisan coffee menu is amazing, including its' brew bar.' There are also plenty of snack and platter choices besides its main menu, such as the mezze board with falafels, hummus, flatbread, and more, or the locally-sourced fritto misto board.
Looking in the heart of Sairee for better coffee? Morning View is a small shop situated on the corner of the city's main intersection and is one of the only air-conditioned cafes or restaurants in all of Koh Tao. Cool off when watching some of the best individuals and treat yourself to their Nutella cheesecake, double chocolate mousse, or blueberry pie. To top it off, add a scoop of their locally-made ice cream.
Situated on a quiet hill on the island of Koh Tao. Great lounge and awesome view in the hang out section. There are fantastic beverages and Thai food, it’s a fun, peaceful and comfortable place to hang out and enjoy a coffee.
Described as a speciality coffee shop with espresso, pour-over, cold drip & nitro. They offer premium imported single-origin & micro-lot coffee which can be roasted to order in small batches.