How do you begin to explain an establishment that calls
itself “Just Coffee”, but has some of the tastiest pizzas in town? That has
huge American style cinnamon rolls and very large coffee cups? Where the owner
says at our table, “I feel that this is my living room, so I’ll just pour
the coffee!” And a place where disadvantaged young girls are taught the
restaurant business, to give them, for once, some real choices in life.
Just Coffee is on the mezzanine floor above Kingdom Book and
Music in Chiang Mai Land Village, between Chang Klan Road and Mahidol Road. Up
the stairs and you are suddenly met with a sea of colours. Orange walls, sofas
covered in red, blue, purple and green. In the far corner there is a counter
with coffee making equipment, plus some cooking paraphernalia, and a few young
Thai girls with big smiles. There are some computer stations opposite the
cooking nook and there is a box of children’s toys too, so families are
obviously welcome. But in the middle of this bright and cheerful milieu there is
the even more bright and cheerful Christa Crawford, who runs Just Coffee with
passes over the real reasons behind Just Coffee with a wave of her hand, saying,
“I just wanted some decent sized California sandwiches!” However, the true
reason is one of providing an alternative type of employment and training for
young people, who through many reasons have been disadvantaged, and for whom the
choices of personally satisfying employment are very limited.
The menu is also very limited, but Mark and Christa do have a
reminder at the top of each page that “If what you want isn’t on the menu,
just ask, we may be able to make it for you.”
There is a page of ‘Specialty drinks’ and Italian sodas
with such calorie enriched items as a white chocolate macadamia nut or an almond
roca mocha, with most of the 15 choices at B. 65. The Italian sodas are mainly
at B. 40 (and the razzleberry Italian soda was brilliant!). There are also
another couple of pages of coffees and teas, hot, cold or iced.
There is more than just coffee at Just Coffee, so there are a
few pizzas (B. 70-90), wraps (including their own tandoori chicken item) at B.
75, sandwiches at B. 70 and panini B.65-85, bagels, muffins and desserts. All
We began with a Caesar salad (which is incorrectly spelled in
the menu, but I have no doubt that Christa could explain it away with a huge
laugh) and another salad with chicken, black bean and corn salsa with a
Southwest Ranch dressing. Both were excellent and even better when you look at
the very small prices asked for.
Next was a panini which featured roasted vegetables with
goat’s cheese in foccacia bread with balsamic herb dressing. Huge portion and
I was ready to call it quits at that stage, but Christa was
not done with the Dining Out team just yet. A California style BBQ chicken pizza
came out next, and this was a remarkably good version, with a thin and crispy,
traditional base. And at the price, was just too cheap!
By now, when I say we were not allowed to leave without
tasting the American style cinnamon rolls, you will understand! Huge, but a
wonderfully sweet ending to our lunch, washed down with Christa’s hand-poured
It would be difficult not to enjoy a meal at Just Coffee.
Christa’s happy bubbling personality is all pervading, so you will enjoy
dining there anyway! However, the food is good, coming in very large portions,
and is not expensive. As Mark and Christa say in their menu, “Your investment
in a great meal also means an investment in the lives of needy people.” Highly
Just Coffee, 420/11-13 Chang Klan Road, (in Chiang Mai Land
Village, running between Chang Klan Road and Mahidol Road and up above Kingdom
Book and Music), Chiang Mai, telephone 053 270 544 (ext 109), email mark @
justfoodinc.org. Street parking. Open 9 a.m. until 8 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday.