Author Kerstin Hsu, Hsuan Yin Zhang, Mokki Hsiao
Photographer Fika Fika Cafe, Simple Kaffa, PJ Shen
Third-wave coffee is a movement in coffee marketing emphasizing sourcing, quality, and unique flavors. In the past, coffee culture was often focused on speed and convenience; now, this new movement is taking coffee seriously in its own right, even treating it as a high-end product like wine or whiskey. Over the last decade, third-wave coffee has become a worldwide phenomenon, with distinctive cafes offering high-quality coffee popping up everywhere ― including Taipei.
Taipei is home to coffee shops in every shape and size, from low-priced chains to high-quality cafes brimming with individual personality ― including more than a few focused on third-wave coffee. These cafes source their beans very carefully, roasting them with close attention to bring out their flavor and brewing them with meticulous care at every step.
The three cafes below, each with its own particular strengths, form a microcosm of the unique development of third-wave coffee culture in Taiwan. Each of them is headed by the recipient of a major international award who brings their own sense of well-honed professionalism to creating the flavor and aroma of each cup of coffee. Their names and brands are renowned among the world’s coffee lovers, and have unquestionably put Taiwan on the global specialty coffee map.
Fika Fika Cafe
In 2013, James Chen (陳志煌), founder of Fika Fika Cafe, headed to Northern Europe for the Nordic Roaster Competition. He returned home as champion of the espresso category as well as overall, making him the first ever competitor from outside the Nordic countries to take the grand prize. Fika Fika Cafe itself opened the same year, and soon became one of the most renowned coffee shops in Taiwan, appearing on travel website Big 7 Travel’s ranking of “The 50 Best Coffee Shops In Asia” in 2019 and 2020.
“Fika” is a Swedish term that translates to a relaxing “coffee break.” Chen aims to transport his customers to the Nordic world through a visual, olfactory, and gustatory feast. It’s not just about a single “Fika” experience; he encourages everyone to indulge at least in multiple rounds of “Fika”, hence the name “Fika Fika”. The cafe is located near IT Park (伊通公園) in Zhongshan District. Though there’s often a long line of customers, the atmosphere remains leisurely, while the outdoor seating area is a staple of the Taipei coffee scene.
Fika Fika particularly excels at latte-type drinks and drip filter coffee. Capulypuly (named after a place in Italy) is their signature blend, as well as their bestseller. It combines multiple kinds of coffee beans, each individually roasted to a different degree with a different roast profile. This painstaking process produces a full-bodied medium roast that remains perfectly balanced whether enjoyed with milk or taken black.
☕️Fika Fika Cafe ☕️
ADD 33, Yitong St., Zhongshan Dist.
HOURS 10:30am – 7:00pm (Mondays)
8:00am – 7:00pm (Tuesday to Thursday; Sundays)
8:00am – 9:00pm (Friday to Saturday)
Simple Kaffa was founded by Berg Wu (吳則霖), a legendary figure in Taipei’s coffee world. It got its start in 2011 in a basement in Taipei’s East District (東區), and has been a mecca for hardcore coffee lovers ever since.
In 2009 Berg Wu competed in the Taiwan Barista Championship (TBC) for what would be the first of seven years running, going on to take the top prize three times. He also represented Taiwan at the World Barista Championship (WBC) in Ireland and ultimately became world champion in 2016, bringing his reputation to new heights.
Meanwhile, Simple Kaffa topped Big 7 Travel’s ranking of “The 50 Best Coffee Shops In Asia” in 2019 and 2020, making it the pride of the Taiwanese coffee scene and providing clear evidence that Taiwan’s coffee is not to be underestimated.
Simple Kaffa’s flagship store is near Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914文化創意產業園區) . The industrial loft-style space is bright and open. The baristas work behind a marble counter in the center, where customers can watch them show off their brewing skills. Simple Kaffa’s single-origin pour-over coffee is spectacularly good ― exactly what coffee lovers crave. To satisfy the demand, a second location named Simple Kaffa The Coffee One has opened on Jinhua Street (金華街), specializing in award-winning coffee. The most expensive coffee served there costs more than NT$3,000 for a single cup ― a true luxury product.
This January, they expanded into the 88th floor of Taipei 101. The design of the new location is themed around forests, mountains, clouds, and sky ― a gorgeous space with a spectacular view.
If you want to visit Simple Kaffa but don’t know what to order, Big 7 Travel suggests that you can’t go wrong with a cappuccino or dark brown sugar latte.
☕️Simple Kaffa (Huashan flagship store) 興波咖啡華山旗艦店☕️
ADD 27, Sec. 2, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Zhongzheng Dist.
HOURS 10:00am – 5:00pm
☕️Simple Kaffa The Coffee One☕️
ADD 177, Jinhua St., Daan Dist.
HOURS 11:00am – 6:00pm
☕️Simple Kaffa Sola 天空興波☕️
ADD 88F, 7, Sec. 5, Xinyi Rd., Xinyi Dist.
HOURS 10:00am – 8:00pm
VWI by CHADWANG
In 2017, Chad Wang (王策) ― not yet 30 ― won the World Brewers Cup (WBrC) with his deft precision, becoming the first person from Taiwan to receive that honor and instantly making a name for himself in Taipei’s coffee scene. He then opened his own cafe VWI by CHADWANG in 2018.
The name VWI stands for water in its three states of matter: vapor, water, and ice. After all, most of a cup of coffee is made up of water, and likewise making a cup of pour-over coffee is the transformation of coffee beans and water into something new. Throughout the process, every tiny detail affects the resulting flavor. It’s precisely this attention to detail that is the soul of Chad Wang’s coffee.
The man himself is so good-looking that he’s often mistaken for a celebrity. Combine that with his unquestionable skill with coffee, and it’s no surprise he can draw in and win over even the most demanding, most uncompromising customers.
VWI regularly holds lectures on coffee, drawing a rapt audience of coffee aficionados. They’ve also created coffee filter bags that work the same way as tea bags, easing the way for everyone to make a good cup of coffee part of their daily lives. In short, VWI and its unique story are more than worthy representatives of Taiwan’s specialty coffee scene.
☕️VWI by CHADWANG☕️
ADD 16, Aly. 4, Ln. 251, Sec. 3, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Daan Dist.
HOURS 11:00am 7:00pm
This article is reproduced under the permission of TAIPEI. Original content can be found on the website of Taipei Travel Net (www.travel.taipei/en).