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  • Tomas Lee

Asia Coffee Tour 2016 - Taiwan


It's been a month I last updated the blog. I happened to travel in Asia for a few weeks, but didn't forget to enjoy my cup of espresso. Other than taking care of my official business, it's also a very pleasant trip to experience the diverted coffee culture in different cities. Therefore, I would like to share some of the highlights in my coffee tour here. Let's start from Taiwan, the beautiful formosa I love the most at heart. In this trip, I intended to save a few extra days to visit not only the Taipei, but the Tainan City (Southern region in Taiwan) as well, a city I haven't visited for more than three decades long. Feel very grateful and pleased that I also made a few new friends during the coffee tour. The best part of all was to witness the Faema Urania, an espresso machine with more than 60 years old history, operating in front of my own eyes and enjoyed a fresh cup of latte made with the rebuilt vintage machine.

Taiwan has been very well known for its friendly culture to the world, and every place you go people will greet you with a kind smile. In every coffee shop I went, their owners and staffs were no difference; They're all patiently spending time to introduce me their signature drinks and characterize the detail history of their businesses.

In between my scheduled meetings and events, I seldom tried a few cafes and roasters without prior making any research online. Thru traveling by High-Speed Rail from north to south and roaming by feet on my new pairs of 'Converse' from big boulevards to small alleys, I spotted the culture, especially in the coffee drinking, between northern and southern regions is quite dramatically different than what I assumed, kinda of like how else New Yorkers and Californians would take their coffee. After all, Taipei is the heart of Taiwan, the metropolitan capital, the center of the island's economy and politic. People there lives in a slightly faster pace; It's eventually noticeable when taking the MTR (Metro Transit Rail). People at South likes to take their pleasure moments to enjoy every sip of their cup whilst Taipei would make their coffee break more productivity by reading a book, surfing internet, or carrying a business conversation or a discussion about recent social events, even the baristas in Taipei have a faster tempo in creating their drinks and serving charm pastry delights. Also, by the design language of their cafes, you'll detect people in Tainan is more cultural and harmonic than the city sneakers in Taipei. The North proceeds a more simple, elegant and contemporary style, but the South attempts articulating more of their local southern essence and artistic and agricultural culture to breeze in a sense of its own disparate vintage style.

Frankly speaking, if chance, I prefer visiting Tainan again to continue my coffee tour bc there are many more specialty cafes and roasters to discover, even though their coffee drinking culture was merely begun as I heard from the owner of the HIPPIE Cafe. Furthermore, it's a city enriched with many historical buildings, temples and recreations to explore.

As for Taipei, you'll definitely find a variety of distinctive cafes and roasters with an affluent value to any coffee chaser. Like my all-time favorite, Rufous Coffee Roasters, the owner couples handcraft every fragant cup of coffee in the paper pour over and drip with exotic blends imported from different regions over the globe, a must-go roasters when you're visiting there.

This is the first part of my Asia Coffee Tour 2016. Part II will come soon. Thanks for reading.

Merry X'mas to Everyone here!

The FOLKS (Taipei)

Products Score: 80 Service Score: 85 Store Score: 85

Final {verdict}: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5

SWING COFFEE (Taipei)

Products Score: 80 Service Score: 80 Store Score: 80

Final {verdict}: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5

HIPPIE Cafe (Tainan)

After a big lunch, I was touring and taking photos around town, and attracted by the apparent of this cafe. With a bicycle parked by the billboard outside the door, the cafe looks just like a picture printed on a post card. While I still couldn't decide whether if this was one of my destinated coffee tour stops, I saw a person walked inside with a dog. My thought popped in mind was like this cafe couldn't be a wrong choice since it's animal friendly. So, I stepped in and was instantly greeted by the barista at the bar, and so I sat down. The "Faema" espresso machine immediately caught my eyes, and I was totally fascinated by its nearly-new exterior condition and couldn't wait to ask more questions about it. In a moment after, the person with the dog walked behind the bar table and put on his custom apron; He happened to be the owner finished walking his dog. What a coincidence, right?! He then started serving me the menu and made food and drink recommendation. Then, I initiated the conversation about the machine and identified myself as a foreign tourist (Also, it's very obvious bc I was wearing just a plain white T-shirt with a pair of jeans.) and most importantly, a coffee chaser. He's more welcomed and opened up to sharing his coffee passionate and the amazing adventure of the Faema unit you see in picture below. It was first listed online selling as a broken unit in the States, then he imported to Tainan and repaired/refurished it himself. When he started operating the machine to pour my cup of latte, I was super-excited bc I couldn't believe the 60 years old machine is still fully funcational. After my cup was served in front of me, I exchanged my business card with the owner and we had a great conversation about local culture, coffee and business development for more than an hour. And this's the best part of my whole trip I won't forget.

To those unfamiliar with the history of professional espresso machine, the Faema is a legendary Italian brand in manufacturing coffee machines since the Post WWII. Their coffee machine has an "astro", futuristic-looking design style, which is highly recognizable and distinguishable. In 70 years afterward, they are still shipping top-notch, high-quality commercial coffee machines worldwide. And below is a more-detail introduction of the company's history and its product series.

Update: They're permanently closed in June, 2017.

"The Faema Urania was born in the 1950s in a family of coffee machines made by Fabbrica Apparecchiature Elettro Meccaniche e Affini, founded in Milan by Carlo Ernesto Valente in 1945.

Each “sibling” in the line was named after a star or planet – such as Saturn, Mars, or Venus – and helped launch a new era of lever machines.

The Faema Urania actually looked like it was out of a spaceship: after all, only an object with sky-high design and functionality could be named after the Muse of astronomy and geometry."

聶樓 "Niie Lou" (Tainan)

Products Score: 85 Service Score: 85 Store Score: 95

Final {verdict}: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5

#CoffeeTour #Taiwan

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