Over the past few weeks, I’ve been on a mission to drink coffee at every café within two blocks of Homey Hostel. Now, a two block radius doesn’t seem that large… I mean, how many cafés can be less than 500m away? 10 at the most right?
To my surprise, I discovered that there are actually 30 different cafés within two blocks of Homey Hostel! (And that’s only counting the ones facing the street and not any located inside the Q Square Mall or any of the underground malls in the area.) Needless to say, I’m been drinking a lot of coffee and eating a lot of pastries the past two weeks.
Being the researcher that I am, I took a LOT of notes on every café that I visited, and compiled a neat spreadsheet of information about each place. Now, I’ve compiled them all neatly into this post for your viewing ease. This post specifically will be looking at the first 14 nearby café options: the best cafés in the area to actually sit down and enjoy your cup of coffee.
Note: Unless they had an interesting menu item or some really good drip coffee, I just got a simple Americano since I don’t drink lattes (so I can’t help with those fancy drink mixtures, sorry). Therefore most of my analysis in the following post will be based more on the atmosphere/environment of the shop rather than the actual taste of the coffee.
Best Place for a Classic Diner Vibe
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:00-19:00, Sun 11:00-18:00
Price Range: 130-350 NTD (drinks)
What I ordered: India Malabar AA Drip Coffee
Of all the cafés I’ve visited, H&F hosts one of the most pleasant, brightest spaces to get a cup of coffee. Large windows facing the alley let in plenty of natural light and let you watch passersby strolling along, and the cool pastel colored walls create a very serene, relaxing environment. Every time I’ve gone, I’ve been the only one in the café, which makes it a great place to study without too many distractions. They have a broad selection of high quality coffees and teas so that you’ll always have something delicious to drink. One of my favorite things about this café, though, is how nice the owners are. A counter faces the kitchen, making it very easy to chat with the owners while you sip your coffee, and every time I go in, we chat for at least twenty minutes before I’m forced to reluctantly say I actually need to work on my homework. While I’ve only ever spoken with them in Chinese, even if you only speak English, they’ll still be happy to take your order!
Best Place for Creative Drinks
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30-21:30, Sat/Sun 11:00-21:30
Price Range: 120-180 NTD (drinks), 120-480 NTD (food)
Music: A mix of Indie/Alternative/Pop
What I ordered: The Good Mood Black Coffee and the Apple Crumble
I was a bit surprised by my experience at Tame Moose. When my coffee arrived, I was surprised to see a bright white fluffy cloud being served to me, and my first thought was “my god, what did I just order?” I double checked the menu, and apparently, had I previously taken the time to translate the Chinese on the menu, I would have seen that I did indeed order “hot black coffee with dream marshmallow.” Upon closer inspection, it turned out that this fluffy white cloud where my coffee should have been was actually a puff of cotton candy on top of my actual cup of coffee. I started to poke at it, and the sugar instantly began dissolving into the coffee. Once the entire cloud had disappeared, I was left with a nice mug of black coffee complete with a sugar-coated rim. Once I got past the surprise of my order, I was genuinely impressed. I’m not entirely sure I can say it tasted like a dream, but this was by far the most innovative method of adding sugar to coffee that I’ve ever seen. Side note: The apple crumble was genuinely one of the best I’ve ever had and I’m coming back here just to eat that again.
Best Place to Take Your Newest Instagram Photo
Hours: Mon-Sat 9:00-17:00, Sun 14:00-21:00
Price Range: 90-160 NTD (drinks), 100-280 (food)
Music: Calm Indie Folk Music
What I ordered: Americano and Banana Chocolate Cake
My first impression as soon as I walked into this café is that it had an aesthetic worthy of Instagram – pale yellow and white walls, mismatched chairs at the tables, dried flowers hanging everywhere, and strategically pre-melted candles adorning the tables. Indeed, while I was there, two girls were moving from spot to spot around the shop trying to find the best spot to get a good photo. Part café and part store, House Go In also sells a few selections of clothing, shoes, and accessories for anyone looking to build their wardrobe. While there, I ordered a black coffee, which tasted about as standard as black coffees usually do, and a slice of banana chocolate cake. Due to the fact that I’m not a fan of fruit in cake, I was slightly disappointed when my cake arrived and I bit into a chuck of banana, but once again this was due to my lazy failure to translate the entire name of the item before I ordered it. Despite the banana, the cake was very good, and I enjoyed eating it as I basked in the simultaneously cheery and relaxing environment of this café. While it wasn’t a negative for me personally (I love smelling things), there was a floral perfume throughout the café that may make it a less than ideal location for people who are sensitive to scents or people who don’t like smells interfering with their sense of taste.
Best Place to Bring Your Grandmother
Hours: Mon-Fri 12:00-21:00, Sat/Sun 13:00-21:00
Price Range: 230-275 NTD (drinks), 40-275 (food)
Music: Slow Instrumental Music that would be fit to accompany a cinematic panorama of the English countryside
What I ordered: Americano and Sesame Chiffon Cake
My overall impression of Covent Garden is that it was the ultimate grandma style café. Red brick wall features, wooden furniture, porcelain teacups hanging everywhere, and a variety of curios scattered throughout the room gave the café a very warm, homey atmosphere that would be perfect for sipping hot chocolate on a snowy day (not that Taipei has those). The sesame chiffon cake I ordered there was delightfully light and the perfect amount of sweet. I actually quite liked this café, but unfortunately, the prices were a tad high for my liking. Regardless, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Best Place for Studying/Otherwise Being Productive
Hours: Thurs-Tues 12:00-24:00
Price Range: 100-200 NTD (drinks), 120-190 NTD (food)
Music: Slow Jazz
What I ordered: Costa Rican Drip Coffee and the Chicken Salad (as in salad with chicken, not the weird mayonnaise mixture)
Black Dew has probably one of my favorite, if not the favorite, atmospheres. The café itself was very cozy, with cozy little velvet chairs that are just plush enough for you to sink into comfortably, but not so plush that you suddenly find that your chest has now sunk to table height. The aesthetic was a very interesting mix of 70s and some other vibe that I couldn’t put my finger on, but seemed very Taiwanese. Formica topped tables and yellow-tan velvet seats met delicate porcelain cups and saucers and beautiful wooden paneling and a multipaned window front that faced out into the alley. The café was popular but still quiet… every table was full, but everyone who was there was working/studying which created a nice studious tranquil environment.
Black Dew also allows you to mix and match roasting and brewing styles of your coffee. On the menu, you see a list of different coffee beans at the top and at the bottom, a list of different brewing styles. Cleverly, the beans at the top are arranged into three different boxes, one colored white, one colored gray, and the other colored dark gray, which corresponds with the roasting level of the coffee (light, medium, dark) making it easier for you to choose. Mix and match your beans and brewing style to achieve your optimal level of caffeine and deliciousness!
Last but not least, the chicken salad was amazing… granted I haven’t had a salad in three months, so it may have tasted better because of that, but still. Black Dew is great in every aspect.
Best Place for Cookies with Your Coffee
Hours: Sun-Sat 11:30-22:00
Price Range: 120-150 NTD (drinks), 70-130 NTD (food)
Music: Soft Jazz (in both style and volume)
What I ordered: Mandheling Drip Coffee and three different raisin cookies
Grace Café and Cookies is probably the best place possible to go if you want a quiet atmosphere, but not absolute silence. The café was lively in number, but not in noise, and the prices on the menu were incredibly reasonable and definitely one of the cheaper options I have listed in this post. The menu at Grace’s offers a large variety of both drip and blended coffee, juices, teas, and cakes and cookies. I ordered a Mandheling Drip Coffee and three raisin cookies that were all delicious. Usually I’m not a fan of raisin cookies, but unfortunately, I have a nut allergy, and all the shortbread or chocolate cookies available when I was visiting contained nuts – Alas! Well if one good thing came from that, I may now be a converted raisin-cookie fan. Despite my allergy-based disappointment, I really enjoyed this café. If you decide to visit, however, be aware that there may only be a Chinese menu available.
Best Place for People Who Like Cats
Hours: Sun-Fri 9:00-20:30, Sat 9:00-22:00
Price Range: 100-480 NTD (drinks), 140-460 NTD (food)
Music: Lilting Instrumental Music that you would imagine hearing at a spa
What I ordered: Kenya AA Nyeri Drip Coffee and the Lavender, Mint, and Rosemary Tea
The local cat café, Mask Cats is home to at least two lovely cats (if there are more, I’ve never seen them). One cat is a lovely white long-haired cat who will completely ignore you, and the other cat is an incredibly fat tabby whose favorite hobbies are scratching at the kitchen door to get food, lying in the middle of the floor where you can trip over him, and clawing the bottom of your seat while you work. One day, I will successfully befriend these cats. Until then, one of the particular things I liked about this café is the music. The music is neither lively nor upbeat in anyway – rather, it’s a lilting piano music that feels as if it belongs in a spa rather than a café. I usually end up listening to classical or instrumental music when I’m working, so as soon as I sat down, the music had a combined effect of putting me straight to work and relaxing me so that my stress levels didn’t overcome my motivation. I was so productive that I crossed off an entire weeks worth of “To Do” lists that I had been putting off. Apparently, Mask Cats also boasts of a very famous cheese tart, so if that’s up your alley, you should definitely try it out! Mask Cats is definitely at the top of my list of recommendations for good places to get work done – as long as you aren’t allergic to cats of course!
Best Place for People Who Like Dogs
Hours: Tues-Sun 11:30-21:00
Price Range: 100-180 NTD (drinks), 150-360 NTD (food)
Music: Chinese Love Ballads
What I ordered: Americano and Lemon Tart
If Mask Cats is the local cat café, Nancy No. 6 Apt. Café is the local dog café. As soon as you walk in, you’re greeted by a short little black and brown French bulldog who stands guard by the door watching all the customers come in. When you finally sit down, you realize the entire café has been decorated in this pupper’s honor as the walls and shelves are dominated by French bulldog themed knick-knacks and dried flowers. Overall, the décor creates a very charming atmosphere in which you can while away an afternoon. As well as offering standard café fare such as coffee, tea, and pastries, Nancy No. 6 also boasts an impressive curry selection. I personally haven’t tried the curry yet, but the lemon tart I ordered was deliciously tart and satisfying.
Best Place for Breakfast
Hours: 10:30-21:30 (both locations)
Price Range: 100-150 NTD (drinks), 110-180 NTD (poffertjes)
Music: An eclectic mix of 90’s pop and rock
What I ordered: Americano and Lemon Cream Poffertjes
There are actually two Poffertjes locations within two blocks of Homey Hostel, one located closer to Zhongshan Road, and one located closer to Chang’an Road. I personally visited the Chang’an Road location, which is the larger of the two.
Poffertjes feels more like a diner than a café, with the result that sitting there with my laptop out felt kind of weird. Most people there were meeting up with friends or taking their lunch break, but not attempting to do any work. The sense that this was probably not the best place to get work done was heightened by the fact that they gave me my check as soon as my food was served.
While there, I ordered an Americano and the Lemon Cream Poffertjes. My goodness, the poffertjes were delicious. For those of you who haven’t had this delicious Dutch food before, poffertjes are basically sweet, mini pancakes served with a variety of sweet garnishes for additional flavor. If poffertjes aren’t your thing, they also offer a number of other western breakfast foods, such as full sized pancakes and waffles. While I won’t be returning to this cafe on days I need to get work done, I will indeed be back to eat more poffertjes.
Best Place for Alcoholic Lattes
Hours: Wed/Thurs 12:00-21:00, Fri/Sat 12:00-22:00
Price Range: 80-200 NTD (drinks)
Music: Soft Jazz
What I ordered: Americano
In hindsight, I’m disappointed that I ordered an Americano instead of one of the alcoholic lattes they have to offer, but in my defense, drinking milk too often doesn’t agree with me. If milk is ok with your body though, you can order a latte with Cointreau, Irish Cream, Kahlua (coffee in coffee?), or mixed wine, or you can just skip the coffee altogether and go straight for a beer or cider. The inside of the café is very brightly colored with a number of graphic drawings (as in cartoons, not violence) painted on the walls, creating a very cheery mood. Overall, Wooso is a great café to sit down and work, as there are plenty of tables and relatively reliable wifi service. The only problem I had was with this café was that there were no outlets to be seen, so I wasn’t able stay as long as I would have liked due to battery limitations.
Best Place for Coffee and a Sandwich
Hours: Mon/Thurs 8:00-20:00, Tues/Wed/Fri 8:00-22:00, Sat/Sun 9:00-22:00
Price Range: 60-199 NTD (drinks), 49-200 NTD (food)
Music: Chinese pop
What I ordered: Americano and the Smoked Chicken Croissant Sandwich
With 15 different sandwiches available, Dolawa has the greatest number of sandwich options among the cafés near Homey. I personally ordered an Americano and the Smoked Chicken Croissant Sandwich and was very pleased. The croissant was super flakey, the chicken well seasoned, and overall, the sandwich was incredibly tasty. Each sandwich is served with a side of mashed potatoes and eggs as well, and while they aren’t the best mashed potatoes and eggs I’ve had in my life, it’s always nice to be served more food than you’re expecting to get. The only aspect that detracted from my experience at Dolawa was how high the air conditioning was turned up. Air conditioning is always necessary in Taipei to adequately escape the heat and humidity, but it was so cold at Dolawa that within five minutes of sitting down I was wishing I had brought a sweater.
Best Place for Learning a Lot About What You’re Drinking
Hours: Sun-Thurs 9:00-22:00, Fri/Sat 9:00-12:00
Price Range: 160-360 NTD (drinks), 180-860 NTD (food)
Music: Blues-y rock
What I ordered: Asia Journey (Laos Tipica) Drip Coffee, Kenya AA Drip Coffee, French Bread with Mozarella and Avocado Tata
Tahoja is definitely one of the more pricey options on this list, but it may be my favorite café in Taipei. The coffee is consistently good, there’s always plenty of seating and reliable wifi, and it’s just around the corner from Homey Hostel. When you order coffee, it’s served up with a small card informing you about where the coffee was sourced, how it was processed, and what sort of flavors you should expect.
The last time I was there, I ordered the Asian Journey coffee selection (a rotating selection of coffee sourced from somewhere in Southeast Asia – this time it was a Laos Tipica variety) and the French Bread with Mozarella and Avocado Tata. I have no idea what Avocado Tata is, but it was incredibly delicious.
The inside of the café has a sleek, modern feel and contains the most comfortable chairs I’ve ever sat in. My favorite spot to sit (when it’s not too hot outside) is on the second floor balcony in one of the arm chairs so that I can simultaneously do my work and take in the city sounds from below.
Best Place if you Don’t Want to Go Too Far From Homey
Hours: Sun-Sat 7:00-18:00
Price Range: 90-150 NTD (drinks), 200 NTD (breakfast set)
Music: Soft Jazz and Classical Music
What I ordered: Americano
Just around the corner from Homey, the Bee House Garden Café is one of my favorite places to pick up a quick pastry after class. At the Garden Café, you can either pick up a pastry and drink to go, or, if you go between 7:30 and 10:30am, you can order a classic breakfast set (consisting of bread, salad, fruit, a coffee or tea, and one of four main breakfast items) to start your day. The jazz and classical music in the background was very cheery and springy, and combined with the bright yellow walls and décor, created a very sunny mood throughout the café.
Best Place for Sitting Outside to Enjoy Your Coffee
Hours: Mon-Sat 10:00-19:00, Sun 10:30-19:00
Price Range: 80-300 NTD (drinks)
Music: Chinese Pop Music
What I ordered: Indonesia Sumatra Drip Coffee
If you’re the type of person who always wants to sit outside, no matter the weather, Rear Station Café is a great option for you. This café has a few tables indoors available, but the vast majority of the tables are set up on the sidewalk, giving you the perfect opportunity to take in the bustle of Taipei city life. Their coffee selection is extensive, and I very much enjoyed the Indonesian Sumatran coffee that I ordered. The only thing that made my visit to Rear Station Café unenjoyable was something that’s a general hazard of spending time outdoors anywhere in Taipei: the smell of durian (a particularly stinky fruit popular throughout southeast Asia). Regardless, the coffee was delicious and the people watching was great, so I would highly recommend this café.
While all the cafés I mentioned above are great places to sit down and enjoy a nice hot drink, sometimes you just need a quick cup of coffee to go. Next week I’ll be covering the best coffee shops near Homey to grab a quick cup of coffee to go.
Chinese word of the day: 咖啡 (ka1fei1) – coffee; café
Your favorite Homey LTR, Angie
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