I can’t write about traveling in Taiwan without mentioning Taiwanese coffee. Not only must it be the best in Asia, it is likely the most expensive as well. The sheer number of coffee shops is astounding. I have no idea how these businesses survive in such concentration. To our surprise, good coffee is ubiquitous in Asia—Taiwan is serious about it. While you can never go wrong at Taiwan cafes, at up to $8 a cup, order with caution.
A Sampling of Taiwan’s Small Coffee Shops
More Than Just Coffee
Fortunately, many Taiwan cafes also offer excellent food. Most often, it was house-made cakes and other treats. But sometimes, the extensive food selection even outshined the coffee.
We’re coffee drinkers. Still, we do enjoy tea. Taiwan excels at both. Usually, we drank coffee (and boba tea). But there was a traditional tea shop right next to our Tainan hostel, My Second Floor Homestay. Both the tea shop and the hostel are now on my list of favorites.
But Wait … More Taiwan Cafes
We spent five weeks in Taiwan. That’s a lot of time to drink coffee. But not enough time (or so it seems) to photograph everything. So here’s a few more Taiwan cafes worth mentioning (sans photos).
In Kaohsiung, we spent an evening at 大城小事珈琲 (English name: Big Town Small Things Coffee) after visiting Cijin Island and the Pier-2 Art Center. I always love learning about a subject I know nothing about. To that end, the National Museum of Taiwan Literature in Tainan is engaging and free. Afterwards, we enjoyed coffee in a tiny street nearby at 甘單咖啡館 (no English name). In both Tainan and Taipei, we found local coffee shops right next to each other. But near train stations, finding decent cafes can be more difficult. We were happy to have coffee and breakfast at Sweet Heart Cafe before catching our train in Tainan.
We spent our first night on the eastern side of Taipei at Jiyinn Coffee. Dessert shops were closed that night, but coffee at 11 PM on a Sunday? No problem. It’s hard to find due to it’s second-floor, residential location. And the fact that it looks like someone’s apartment. Be bold (and quiet), and walk right in. Finally, for cafes in the Da’an vicinity of Taipei, I plan to write yet another post about Taiwan.
Taiwan Coffee is Not Perfect
Besides the cost, I do have one complaint about Taiwan cafes: the hours. Finding coffee at local cafes before noon was almost impossible. Locating a cafe open late into the night was easy. To be honest, this problem was not exclusive to coffee shops. At first, I was also frustrated dessert shops closed by 7 PM.
But by the time we reached Tainan, we had a workable schedule sorted out. Sleep until 10 AM, then start the day with fish soup, dumplings, or douhua. Proceed with sightseeing, followed by an afternoon snack of shaved ice or boba. Sometimes, we ate dinner at a local restaurant. Regardless, we finished the day with coffee. As you can imagine, bedtime was never before 2 AM. Yeah, it’s a hard life traveling Taiwan.