Cappuccino Quest: A Hot Cappuccino At Denta Club, Bangkok, Thailand, Launches Our New Cappuccino Quest Project
The Cappuccino Quest is back. After a long hiatus we're rebooting - just like Hollywood likes to do - with all new content evaluated from scratch based on updated criteria and a lot of research. Our first review, from a trip last year, serves as an introduction to how all of this came about and what you can expect in future.
Over some of the the worst coffee I've ever had in my life, while on holiday in Bangkok, Thailand (otherwise known as brainwavez.org Getaway 2015 (not really)), Jase and I discussed the specifics of resurrecting the Cappuccino Quest, a project we ran on the site in its early days that was quite popular.
Above: This is what traffic looks like at 19:00 in Bangkok, Thailand. We encountered this view somewhere between the mall and Denta Club.
The original Cappuccino Quest petered out because the more we began to test cappuccinos the more we realised how much we didn't know and we increasingly lost confidence in our ability to evaluate the drinks well, although we knew enough to discern a good cappuccino from a bad one. It also became apparent very quickly that most establishments in Cape Town were making terrible coffee and it stopped being fun for me to pay money for bad drink after bad drink.
We kept talking about it, though, and continued to research the science and ask questions, and have had many discussions about how to bring the project back. The tipping point was Jase and I being able to meet in person and sit down with the same cup of coffee to discuss criteria and see if we have the same level of understanding and evaluating ability to be able to run this project while we are literally on opposite sides of the planet. Unfortunately we picked a place that made absolutely awful coffee but the experience was so surreal that it makes for a great story and introduction to the Cappuccino Quest 2.0.
I subsequently wrote an evaluation guide to ensure that we remain on the same page and, since that meeting, I have been testing all over Cape Town to get back into the habit and practice evaluating. I have also sat down with other brainwavez.org contributors in Cape Town to discuss the criteria and teach them how to evaluate properly. Some of those reviews will appear on the site soon and in the future we will post current reviews more timeously.
Back to Denta Club in Bangkok. We only had a few days in the city towards the end of our trip to South East Asia and so, after an excursion to a mall to look for gifts (as an aside, Loft
is one of the most delightful stores I've ever been to in my life), we decided to stop at a coffee shop on our meander back to our hotel where we could rest for a bit and have the Cappuccino Quest talk.
Denta Club appeared and we decided to try it out. At first glance it looked like a professional coffee shop but as we settled in we began to realise that there was a lot more going on. Denta Club is adjacent to a dentist's office (hence the name) and both establishments are owned by the same organisation, Siam Family Dental Clinic. It is a very odd setup made all the more strange by the fact that the coffee is so bad a lot of people will likely add sugar to try and mask how bad it is.
On second thought - perhaps it's a fantastic business idea?
Denta Club offers two kinds of cappuccino - hot and cold - as well as a variety of other coffee options and a tea selection. The cold option is slightly more expensive and likely exists because of the summer heat in the city. We ordered two hot cappuccinos at the counter and then it was our choice either to go or sit at one of the tables inside (I think there were only two and one was occupied) or on one of the few chairs (no table) outside the shop. We opted for the free table inside to avoid some of the street noise and the heat, as the establishment had aircon.
The place itself has a bright yellow colour scheme and a large selection of branded apparel for sale. It's a pleasant, though small, spot to visit for a break with friends and I wouldn't be adverse to going back to try the tea selection - but definitely not the coffee.
Lest you think we're jaded about cappuccinos in Thailand, however - fear not! The very next day Jase had one of the best cappuccinos we've ever seen (I chose not to have one as well as it was hideously expensive and I was on a budget) in a coffee shop at a floating village that's hardly accessible to the average casual tourist. You never know where you're going to find some magic and an amazing barista.
Hot Cappuccino: 40 baht (roughly $1.10 or R17)
The barista served the cappuccino on the counter in a takeaway cardboard cup (with fold-out wings that form a handle so you can hold it without touching the cup), right in front of a bunch of patient files that were lying on the desk. We were each given one sugar packet (with an inspirational quote), a thin wooden stirring stick (which are impossible to use), and a branded paper serviette.
The cup's capacity was around 200ml but it wasn't filled all the way up. I actually took it all the way home to measure how much was used and it turned out to be 150ml, which is within the correct size range if the ratio of foam, milk, and espresso is correct. This is about the only thing that Denta Club got right, however (and something that most other places get very wrong).
The barista didn't pour the foam into the cups - instead she spooned it in. My foam had fewer bubbles and was marginally better than Jase's, which was terrible, but on the whole the foam wasn't great, or very thick, and it degraded quickly. The colour contrast (the balance between light and dark) was ok but the symmetry was marred by the fact that the foam was spooned in, making it uneven and lumpy and messing with the crema ring.
The cup was way too hot - I couldn't even hold it with the wing handles (which are cumbersome anyway) - so we had to wait quite a while for the coffee to cool down before we could try it.
The barista poured the original shot and then put it in the steamer to make it even hotter - I have no idea why - before spooning in the foam. It was, essentially, espresso and milk with foam in layers, not a smooth transition. After waiting quite a while for the coffee to cool down so we could taste it the experience was, unsurprisingly, terrible. (My notes from the moment read: "My second sip was a mouthful of burnt.") The coffee, which was a very dark roast, was incredibly bitter and burnt - pretty much everything that could be wrong with it was.
1/10. This truly was one of the worst cappuccinos I've ever had in my life.
28 April 2015
Above: We made Travel Zombie walk the plank while we waited for the coffee to cool.
209 Phayathai Road, Pathum Wan, Bangkok, 10330, Thailand [ map
Phone: +66-8-1987-7700 (dental call centre)