It was around the third iced latte in an hour when we began to rethink the wisdom of this venture: “To find the best coffee chain in Taipei; a city defined by its love of coffee and its plethora of coffee shops.”
We all have our favorite spots and coffee locales in Taipei, the ones we go to for the daily wake up, the ones that are best on rainy afternoons, the others where the AC runs the coolest in summer months, the one that seems to always add a little more espresso to their brew. We’re not here to change your favorite haunts, rather, we at Pop Rooms Blog have been wondering recently, which of the more well-known or advertised coffee chains produces the best coffee? We generally know that we prefer the latte from one chain over the latte at another, but rarely, if ever, have we tried them side by side, or, in our case, back to back in the same day.
Our search, or experiment, was by no means extensive but it was an energizing, senses inducing, and brought us to numerous locations throughout the city for a very memorable afternoon. Wander with us in this segment as we sample lattes from seven different well known locales from around the city.
Before we dive into our insights from the wonderful range of Taipei’s coffee chains, we suppose we would provide the general reader with our criteria for determining the “best cup of coffee.”
With these criteria in mind, we set out across the city. We chose an iced latte as the control subject and tried each brand within a span of four hours in the same afternoon.
Location: Multiple. We stopped at the Kiosk in Da’an. No. 112號, Section 2, Jinshan S Rd, Da’an District, Taipei City, 106
Cost: 170 NT$
Impressions: Would you believe us if we told you that in all of our time in Taipei but have never actually been to Kaffa? Yes, we had head about the legendary store, but never actually tried the brew ourselves. After the first sip however, we can understand the hype. Our hats are off to Kaffa. Their iced latte might be perfection. It’s pricy, but we now understand why it is named the best coffee in the city. The strength of the coffee was phenomenal and yet there was no bitterness in the aftertaste. While this coffee easily makes the top of our list, we are not going to call it “the best chain coffee” as it is too expensive to be purchasing on a daily basis. When we are on a date or need to treat ourselves, however, we will definitely be back.
Location: Multiple. We went to the one in Da’an, No. 2-1號, Lane 161, Section 1, Xinsheng S Rd, Da’an District, Taipei City, 106
Cost: 180 NT$
Impressions: For those with deep pockets. When you start with the best, everything else is going to fall short, however, we were a little disappointed with the latte at Zhanlu. It was strong coffee, well roasted, but far more bitter. It’s quality did not justify the price in our minds.
Location: Multiple. We visited the Zhongzheng store, 2GV8+R7 黎明里 Taipei City, Zhongzheng District
Cost: 75 NT$
Impressions: Now we are grinding with Arabica! Located in a hole in the wall shop in Zhongzheng, Wilbeck is our new favorite coffee chain. It has the strength we are looking for at a price we are able to pay on a daily basis. After our firs sip, we concluded, “Wilbeck? More like ‘will be back!'”
Location: Multiple, we visited the store on Yanping Street, No. 15號, Yanping S Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, 100
Cost: 95 NT$
Cama Café will always have a special place in this blogger’s heart. It was one of the first coffee shops we stumbled into when we arrived new to the city a number of years ago. Every time we see the orange sign with the snoopy-like character, we think of rainy January days, sitting on small chairs along the sidewalk, drinking strong coffee and wondering at the marvels of this world of Taipei. We admittedly had not had a cup of coffee from Cama in a while and unfortunately the present doesn’t quite live up to the memory. Perhaps they have watered things down a little or memory strengthened the grounds. Nonetheless, we are still giving them honorable mention for the best brand logo that still feels emblematic of some of the best parts of Taipei.
Location: Throw a rock and you might be able to hit one. We often will go to the one in Datong, 3G38+F2 建功里 Taipei City, Datong District
Cost: 85 NT$
Impressions: To be entirely transparent, we have mixed feelings about Louisa. Their coffee is nothing to write home about — frothed milk that might have at one point been stored in a refrigerator with a coffee bean. But their location at the Jiancheng Circle Shop is also one of our favorite places to work in the mornings or evenings. They open early and close late and it’s often a productive atmosphere. Just make sure to get an extra shot of espresso or two.
Location: Multiple, we visited the Datong branch, 3G37+HH 建功里 Taipei City, Datong District
Cost: 135 NT$
Impressions: While we have certainly consumed a fair amount of the ‘siren’s swill’ in our time, Starbucks is not our first choice for coffee outside of an airport terminal. The coffee generally is fairly strong, and we found that to be the case here, but the whole atmosphere in a typical Starbucks often feels forced or faked to us. We included it here because we saw it across the street and felt we had to stop in for a latte, but it is not a coffee chain in Taipei that we will be going back to anytime soon. That said, if you can make the hike to the Datong Starbucks’ upstairs, it is wonderfully spacious.
Location: Around the corner from Starbucks in Datong, No. 13號, Tianshui Rd, Datong District, Taipei City, 103
Cost: 80 NT$
Impressions: Watch out Wilbeck! We had heard rumors of early morning Goee coffee runs, but never made one ourselves. Having had their latte, it is not false accolades. Their brew is not quite as strong as Wilbeck’s but the store itself is relaxed. Everyone from office workers to mothers with stollers were walking in and out. Definitely a great out of the way unpretentious vibe. We will be Goee-ing for another cup soon!
We write this post on a jittery wave, full bladder, and sublime caffeinated haze. It was worth it. Our latte pilgrimage around the city was by no means exhaustive or comprehensive, but here is where we have decided to leave off for now. Having tried the grind down the differences in grounds we can say that Wilbeck’s is your best bang for your buck, Goee is a close second, Cama still has a great logo, Louisa on Jiangcheng circle has a nice place to work and Kaffa has opened our eyes to all that a latte ought to be. Hold onto your beans and we will be back with a next installment soon.