a peek inside the fishbowl

06 Oct, 2019

Buying coffee in Patong

Posted by andrea tomkins in: travel talk

The Thailand diaries continue! To read past posts in this series, click here.

It probably sounds ridiculous, but it took me a couple of days to get comfortable with crossing the street. I thought about this as I crossed “our” main road to get to “our” 7-11. I was finally looking the right way before stepping out into the street! Yay me!

It was early, 6:30 a.m., but I’d given up trying to sleep and was on my way to get coffee.

I spotted a gecko hanging out by the elevator and the local stray dog, who we started to look out for whenever we passed by this spot:

Stray dog in Patong, Phuket

Since I was in a new lowered state of fear/panic/anxiety I actually I took the time to take in the views around me.

Sign in Patong, Phuket

… which included a public/open air coin-operated laundromat. (I had just found out that our Air BnB had no laundry. Sigh.) I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to figure out how it worked, but I was willing to try.

Public washing machine, Patong, Phuket

I walked in the 7-11. I was pretty sure they knew me by now.

“Coffee? Coffee?” asked the girl behind the counter. I must have looked desperate. Or tired. Or both.

I should point out that Canadian travellers who are coffee addicts might be disappointed in the lack of coffee availability in Thailand. In Canada, or at least in Ottawa where I live, there is a coffee shop on practically every corner. Sometimes you can throw a stone from one coffee shop and hit another coffee shop. We love our coffee! In Thailand, or at least in Patong, there’s a restaurant or massage parlour or bar on every corner, but not coffee. It’s just not a thing.

In Canada, I wouldn’t venture into a 7-11 to get a hot cuppa joe unless I was weeping from caffeine withdrawal, but it’s different in Thailand. The coffee machines at the 7-11 I observed are large steel appliances that are automated, but still use freshly-ground beans. Staff punch in a code that matches your order, tuck a cup under the spigot, and the machine spits out your choice of caffinated beverage.

I quickly learned to consult a large double-sided laminated (and bilingual) menu with many different offerings but I wasn’t into the fancier drinks (matcha shakes etc.). For the first few days of our stay I opted for espresso, which I brought back to our place and poured it into a mug along with a good amount of milk to make a cold coffee of sorts. Later on during this trip I asked for a regular coffee and it caused a lot of confusion – maybe they’d never made a regular coffee before – but on this day I asked for “a double” … two espresso shots in one cup.

“Two?” she asked, holding up two fingers.

“Yes, two,” I replied, because double is two, right?

Well, as you have probably guessed, I got two cups with two lids. And of course, the disposable cups are massive compared to the small shot of espresso in each one. Oh well.

Interestingly, every time I bought a coffee the staff tried to put it in a small cup-sized plastic grocery bag. And of course, I always had to ask them to please not put my coffee in a bag. I thought the coffee in a bag thing was really strange until I realized that customers would buy drinks and carry them home in a bag dangling by their moped handles. I guess drinks are easier to transport that way.

Related: Throughout our trip I was continuously shocked and surprised at the many single-use plastics in regular use here. And there no recycling I could see. It was an eye-opener, to say the least.

That day I also bought powered laundry detergent (at least I think it was detergent), potato chips, and shrink-wrapped corn on the cob for dinner.

When I got back we had breakfast. Our usual included toasted white bread with margarine and jam. This was far from my usual Canadian breakfast but this is what we had and it would have to do. I had scored some oranges at the 7-11 the day before and we had one of those too. My coffee was The Best Coffee and I put the other one in the fridge for later.

We spent the morning in the pool (again) and that afternoon we did totally different and weird and new (to us). Something that I later regretted, a little. We got dressed, slapped on the sunscreen, and made our way into the bustling core of Patong for our next (questionable) adventure.

Stay tuned!

3 Responses to "Buying coffee in Patong"

1 | Lynn

October 10th, 2019 at 1:35 pm


I’m really enjoying your Thailand series but I have to say, it is not inspiring me to travel at all. I am a terrible, stressed out, freaked out traveller so I really appreciate how open you are about the fact that you had some shell shock when you got there, too.

2 | andrea tomkins

October 12th, 2019 at 8:55 am


Thanks Lynn! I’m all about keepin’ it real here. :) There’s no point glossing over the fact that it took me three days to get over our jet lag, but I don’t want to give the impression that we didn’t have a good time. We did! But this trip definitely challenged me… in a good way, overall!

3 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive A bite of Thai food - a peek inside the fishbowl

November 15th, 2019 at 12:39 pm


[…] the afternoon I went back to our 7-11 to pick up a few staples, which included a cup of coffee for yours truly. I knew what I was doing now. I had it down pat! Unfortunately, I threw a wrench into the system by […]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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