More Than A City Boy Coffee
by Kyle Vick
While I was walking through the hard, concrete streets of Bangkok, I stumbled upon a coffee shop. Well, the term shop might be a bit misleading. It was really a small bar on the side of the road. I noticed it at first because of the vibrant greenery. It stood out against the dull grey of Bangkok. A small gathering of hip locals was smoking in the small garden out front.
As I approached, the locals made space for me. They were clearly friends hanging out and not solely patrons. When I grabbed my seat at the bar, one of them got up and walked to the register. He asked me what I wanted to drink, and I ordered a cappuccino.
We started to talk while he made my drink. He asked me where I was from and I told him America. He shrugged and kept making my drink. A bowl of tomatoes sat on the counter, and he offered them to me. I asked if they were from his garden because the place had an organic vibe, but he laughed and told me “no, they are from the supermarket,” pointing down the road. His demeanor was unique. It’s like he knew exactly what it meant to be cool, but didn’t care. And knew exactly what quality was, but didn’t need to prove it. In fact, it felt like he didn’t need to prove anything.
I asked him how long he’d lived in Bangkok, and he told me he was born here. I asked him if he liked the city and he said, “Bangkok is a nice place to visit for the night, but not a good place to live.” I was surprised because this city boy didn’t seem to be a big fan of the city. When I asked him where he would like to go, he paused and after a moment told me he wanted to visit Berlin. Then he passed me my drink and went back to sit down with his friends.
As I sat drinking my cappuccino, I reflected on the place. Even though the conversation had gone differently than I expected, something about it made sense. The little shop was like a little piece of greenery growing up through the concrete, like a weed on the sidewalk. The coffee bar was resisting the busy, bustling city in much the same way a small flower resists the asphalt. It was the same way this man was resisting the push and pull of the city. When a flower grows up on the blacktop, it has to learn it’s a beauty for itself, the same way this city boy had learned to define himself. Even though he was born and raised in the city, it didn’t define him. He was more than his environment. I hope he one day makes it to Berlin to taste and see more of what he loves.
If you are ever in Thonglor, Bangkok and looking for a good cup of coffee, find City Boy Coffee. Likely, the owner and founder will make your drink. Just look for the man with a tattoo that says “city boy” on his arm.