You eying the drip?

As someone who enjoys writing, but busies himself with so many other things that always push writing projects into the backseat, I have to say, I am very excited to get this first post up for this new section of my blog. I am no stranger to procrastination (please refer to my entire education) and I can be lazy if what I want to do on my computer feels even the least bit tedious. I mean, it’s been over two years since I started to craft and shape this vision. I left Taiwan for Australia quite convinced that I would be able to crank this thing out, page by page, without dragging my feet. And yet, here we are. Nonetheless, I am still the huge appreciator of coffee and coffee culture that I have always been, which has provided plenty of time to be seated at home, or at a nice coffee shop, where I can pour my coffee onto the page. No,… wait. I mean I can pour my thoughts into a mug. Hm, that’s not right either…
You see what I’m getting at –> Coffee + time = a blog (eventually).

Perhaps my blog has sat on the stove long enough to become more of an ode than an up-to-date recommendations list. “Better late than never though” – something I need to remember. Not because I want an excuse for procrastinating, but rather because all too often I try to do so many different projects in the same day, leading me to feel frustrated when I don’t get enough done.

First in foremost, I must make it known that this will not be a comprehensive list of all of Taipei’s coffee shops with categorical ratings of ambiance, bean quality, or value per cup. It’s not that those aren’t important to me, or that these elements will be absent from this blog. Rather, I don’t want this particular coffee blog to be your average ‘Taipei traveler’s guide’ to finding cafes for lunch or study, or strictly for hipster business. No need to compete with Travelguide-esque sites and IG hashtags when what I really want to do is compile an articulate list of the best spots in and around town to experience coffee at. I don’t want to call them cafes or coffee shops either, but instead, coffee spots. That’s really just because so many places in Taipei labeled as either coffee shop or cafe tend have a misleading nature about them. All too often I end up walking into a space imagined for “Western style” brunching or created for coffee tasting, and it doesn’t match the vibe I’m seeking. “Spots” refers to any place that one can enjoy a nice cup of coffee, provided by a vendor.

So for this coffee spot blog, we’re going to be seeking and assessing aesthetics, menu options, location, barista dynamics and taste; all found in the capital of East Asia’s most prolific little island. Between the reader and myself, we can strive to find a shared appreciation for each spot’s delightful qualities and elevated experience.

身為一個喜歡把自己的日子排得連一點點休息時間都沒有的人,更別說有什麼寫文章的時間,我真的好興奮終於發布作品了。拖延症是我的一位老朋友,以前教過我的老師們都能作證。尤其是需要使用電腦完成的話,我一碰到瑣碎的事即刻三心二意。兩年都過了但同一個目標還在整理中。我那時候剛從台灣去到澳洲,就以為部落格寫一寫,改一改,很快就可以弄完及PO上網。可是實際上好像沒那麼容易。但,話雖如此,我基本上還是個咖啡與咖啡文化的重度沈迷者,所以肯定會有夠多的機會讓我嘔心瀝血,無論是坐在家裡或出門 ⋯ 等一下,該說嘔咖啡瀝。。。咖啡?不,大家要誤會我到底在吐什麼東西。算了,重點是:咖啡 + 時間 = 部落格(最終的),懂嗎?


首先必須說清楚一點,這篇名單的目的不是為了編輯或評論臺北的咖啡館的氣氛、豆質、或是每杯CP值等。雖然我認為比較的評論很重要,而且這些也會出現在我部落格裡面。重點是我不想要把這個部落格當成那種給參觀臺北兼尋求網美店、或者只是因為附近的星巴克不方便走所以想找類似地方的觀光客看。他們可以用IG的#標籤或是找旅遊遊記就好了。在台北市和圍繞在新北市區域中有意思的咖啡店並不少。我想歡迎所有對台北咖啡地點有興趣跟好奇的朋友瀏覽一下這段:你們就是我鎖定的讀者。而且我次要的目標是阻止別人像我以前常受困(很迷惘)的一個狀態:被偽劣的西式早午餐、太商業性的咖啡店 擺了一大道。所以我不會把名單上的地方叫做《館、廳》或《店》,而叫—地點。任何有販賣咖啡的地方不論它的形式,只要能讓人享受在其中,都能當作所謂的“地點”。

因此,這個咖啡地點部落格將以使用美學、菜單選項、選址、咖啡師活力跟味道來探索和分析 — 所有都可以在東亞州中最多樣化的小島之首都找到。這樣一來,我與讀者們才會對每一個地點的優點和渲染性的經驗有更深的共識。

Jackwell’s Coffee

This shop earns first mention because it was the first and only coffee spot I was introduced to in my early weeks after moving to Taipei that I have continued to visit consistently since. Once I had a cup of their satisfying and fair priced coffee, I knew that Taipei was likely to have other desirable spots like it; well-crafted coffee in unique places: tucked away in the corners, alleyways, and obscure mountain roads of Taiwan’s most bustling city. 

At Jackwell’s you can get a nice cup of black coffee in the ever popular ‘Americano’ style, for 45 NTD. Incidentally, the price of an Americano is precisely how I judge any cafe’s pricing when I poke my head in to check it out. I should include my modest confusion with the popularity of Americanos in some countries outside of the US. I mean, people drink them at home, but hardly enough for us to spearhead the moniker, even if the idea for black coffee drowned in hot water was inspired by American drip (or honestly our love of watering down most things just to increase portion size). Either way, this American had ordered his first cup of salvation.

For the purpose of staying on task, which I am impressively bad at, let’s look at the best qualities that Jackwell pushes over the counter. If, like me, you enjoy the youtube tracks of busy coffee shops in the rain, then you might like Jackwell just the same. On the other hand, anyone who is easily distracted when they work might have trouble staying on task here, namely me. But for some, this could function as white noise to play in the background of whatever you project or book you bring with you. The next thing you’d notice is that “space” in the narrow corridor where you line up to order and pick up your coffee is not really space at all. But rather than deem these all as negative aspects, I find that they help shape Jackwell’s most attractive feature. I come to Jackwell’s for, above anything else, the bustling ambiance. 

So to paint the scene: it’s maybe an hour or so before Taipei’s lunch rush and you’ve spotted a vacant seat in the outside corridor. You put your stuff down because you feel safe enough to do so in Taiwan… but maybe you’ll still keep your phone with you instead of leaving it out on the bench. The very charming and knowledgeable staff take your order and you get another stamp on your card that will soon add up to a free coffee. The air is thickening, becoming richer with the smell of brewing coffee and the tension of the lunch rush that will briefly occupy Guting’s streets and stores before returning back to the usual hum of less hurried foot traffic. Jackwell’s, with its quality-made and fair-priced coffee, delivered to you by friendly baristas, and all from within the shop’s cozy walls, acts as a comfortable barrier between you and your metropolis surroundings. It won’t be quiet, though. So if that’s what you are looking for, I suggest my next spot.


首先是一間在古亭區,從我大學畢業回來台灣長住後,第一個馬上看中的小地方叫 — 傑克威爾。這裏是同學介紹我,說下課後帶我去,從那時起傑克威爾就多了一個投資人(我)。一喝到他們平價又動心的咖啡,我就開始認為在台北「這個小島上最熱鬧的都市中」應該也會有其他務必去的咖啡地方—特別是這麼精心製作的咖啡還位在不簡單的地方:藏於市區稜角、巷裡、迢迢山路上的良地。


Coming in through the alley entrance at a somewhat busy time



Feng-Ti Coffee

This next spot isn’t the second place I went to, nor my second favorite, but it contrasts nicely with the previous spot’s overwhelming presence. Atop Taipei’s “Five Finger Mountain” sits a seemingly delicate sprawl of chairs and shaded tables adjacent to a small white truck; all nesting on a bend in the road that runs up the mountain. If you peak through the trees, Taipei 101 and its surrounding cityscape are visible, albeit far away. Usually, there is a lot of mist and the far off landscape seems to blur like a blue tinted window in a soft rain. I once asked the owner/coffee master how long he had had this setup on the mountain for. I thought he might say just for the past couple of years. I don’t remember his exact number now, but it was well over 10. That means this cool, quaint coffee spot has been situated on the mountain for quite some time; brewing dark and robust beverages to help us mortals battle the steep, foggy ascent. It’s a long way to the top of this first peak, past temples and serene mountainside communities.

I’m basically a pro with my phone camera…

Let’s now jump straight into the coffee quality. From what I remember, his black coffee options trump the latte drinks by at least a yard, though that could be mostly attributed to my only real complaint: how the coffee is served. Your drink comes in an excessively plasticy, plastic cup. I get that most of his customers on the mountain road will be taking their drinks to go, whether or not they decide to take a moment and enjoy the view, but the feel of the cups somehow dampens my appreciation for his coffee. It’s like how drinking soda out of a plastic bottle versus a glass one can make all the difference to how refreshing it feels. Even so, Feng-Ti still offers a variety of coffee options, as well as a few snacks like waffles and bread. Coffee was the only thing my body yearned for on my visits up the mountain, but, as a snackologist, I never keep the coffee-pairing edible options too far outside my periphery. A sugary waffle to keep my hot coffee company? Sign me up! Just remember that the food comes out on disposable tableware, too.

Now the obvious move is to bring your own travel mug and utensils, be good to the earth, and make it a ‘mug of joe’ instead. That is my recommendation to you, dear reader. But I digress because, once again, the black bean juice that we all run on is still the key component here. Just keep in mind that I am sharing and introducing a “spot”:a way for time and space to meet and interact with the environment, ultimately elevating your moment with your cup (not plastic please) of coffee. These forces need to meet each other under benevolent conditions to truly color the pages of devotion, lest it simply be remembered as another coffee stain.

So if nature and the environment impassion you like they do me, definitely take a morning afternoon ride up Five Finger Mountain and slow down time with coffee and the atmosphere. Just be careful on your way up. The road is bendy and there are some stray dog packs, and even some wandering spirits… I think.
(PS- if you are gonna take the time to trek up the mountain road then you can also check out the other fascinating and magical sites that float above the city as you drive up. I won’t get too specific, though. As a matter of fact I will keep these locations lofty and abstract so that you can find them in your own way.)




這樣子的話我非常推薦大家買自己的杯子或者在出發前從家裡拿一只馬克杯。不願意保護我們的地球的人有權利享受它的水土嗎?我不太認同。好了,跑題了。再說,這裡主要的還是我們咖啡消費者最珍惜的“黑豆露”,可是別忘這部落格的重點是在分享咖啡地點;隨著時空跟環境,結合成能互相加深你對喝一杯(拜託不要塑膠杯)咖啡的見識。 此類的條件需要在良善的情形下相聚才會足足興旺,好比於有一頁圖畫在上色時失去平衡感,就會被人記成平凡的咖啡污漬。

Re-finding this photo invokes Deja View


Lai lim ga bi!


Summer Savage

I’m really excited to get into the details of spot number 3: Summer Savage, right around the corner from Xingtian Temple! I lived behind the temple for about five months in 2019-20. The area is chock-full of vegetarian eateries and well-kept cafes, so wandering around, rummaging for food and drinks became a habit right away. 

Sometimes the little hole-in-the-wall coffee shop with no [comfortable] seating is charming. Other times it is an aesthetic pain in the ass; a palette of musty hues and the grainy filter of my anxiety. How S. S. manages to strike an eloquent balance between these extremes is beyond me; I might need to consult a Feng Shui master. I mean, from the construction being done on the short skyscraper next door, to the speedy vehicles whipping around the corner, you would not immediately associate this intersection with any feelings even close to tranquility. Alas, magic is worked and you step up to the counter, face to face with a dapper, young barista, wearing either black or white, who exudes expertise in the caffeinated alchemic arts. From there, the rest is a daze, full of bold aromas, whizzing cars, and a bit of exercised patience (if you are there during busy hours or order a pour-over coffee). And then, before you know it, a dainty, elegant porcelain cup (as I prefer to order ‘for here’ instead of the paper cup) is placed in front of you, almost too beautiful to disturb. But such is the beauty of mortality in a cup of really good coffee.


I could go on for far too long about the physical properties of this establishment, all the while forgetting to highlight the all-important centerpiece. The coffees are fairly priced, with all the classic espresso drinks and filter options on offer. I vaguely remember that they have some interesting specialty drinks, however, 1) I am writing this while not currently in Taiwan so I cannot go there to jog my memory, and finding their menu online, while easy, would detract from the approach I’ve dedicated this blog to: my memories and impressions. And 2) even though I am a fan of all varieties of coffee drinks, I don’t think I ever strayed from the basic espresso and pour-over side of the menu. I never once was even the slightest bit disappointed by something I ordered from S. S. 

Quite often I would get asked by one of the baristas (there are somehow multiple, all crammed into a space best described as, “this could be a sizable closet”) if I would like to try a new bean that’s either just been put on the list or is about to be. He (it was usually the same young man) always managed to walk the line between enthusiasm and calm professionalism while describing to me the characteristics of the bean, wash, and roast, and would proceed to set it up, pour-over style, in a visible spot on the countertop. What better way to wait for your coffee than to watch it brew while you brim with delightful anticipation?

There are, of course, plenty of quality, busy-bee coffee shops in Taipei to visit and spend time in. I certainly have only seen a fraction of them, though my google maps ‘favorites’ markers would have you think I’m trying to solve a city-wide manhunt. I guess I am, if you replace ‘man’ with ‘black elixir of immortality’. You get me… I like coffee. So much that my descriptions can go overboard and drift into the fantastical. But how did S.S. become my (as it stands now) number 1 spot for coffee in the city? I’ve done my best to describe its electric atmosphere, the great staff, and the high quality coffee, as these are the pillars on which my admiration stands. What’s harder to put a pin on is just how all these factors intersect and culminate in an affection perfectly situated between thrilling and tranquil. I always left S.S. with a compulsion to chase that high no matter where I went, with coffee on my mind and in my system. Maybe, by the end of the blog, some of these nuanced feelings of fascination will have bubbled up and forced their way out past your screen and into your heart; tugging at the edge of your senses and curiosity so that we may follow our noses together, in search of more special places of aromatic excellence, coffees in hand. 








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