Samui Wining & Dining
Into the Black

A few reasons why you’ll be happy you dropped into Black Canyon!

Into the BlackWhite chocolate mocha. Iced skinny latte. Caramel macchiato. Mocha coconut frappuccino. What springs to your mind, reading these names? Well, one brand probably does. In a world of trendy and predictable franchises, one giant American coffee house has become an instantly recognisable household name. It’s been so successful, that for many, it’s become an icon for ‘good coffee’. So let’s try this – caramel blackpuccino frappe, hot white chocolate mocha, iced white chocolate cappuccino. And then tack a price of around 80 baht or so onto each one. When you do this, you’ll then come to understand why, in Thailand and for most of the people living here, Black Canyon Coffee is the name that people think of.

The first Black Canyon appeared back in 1993. For the best part of a decade, the Thai nation had been in love with ‘The American Dream’. Already that big golden ‘M’ had spawned across the country, as well as theme bars and pubs such as The Hard Rock Café and Planet Hollywood. Indeed, the first Black Canyon, which appeared in Bangkok, followed a ‘Western’ theme, complete with a swinging saloon door and cowboy saddles mounted on the walls. But today things have become a lot smoother and more sophisticated, and there are now 250 branches across Thailand alone, plus outlets in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Burma, United Arab Emirates, Cambodia, Laos and the Philippines.

The presence on Samui of three such coffee shops is entirely due to businesswoman and entrepreneur, Khun Anchalee Keeratiwithayanon. Back in the early 2000s, she was running a hotel catering and equipment supply business in Phuket, but then began to notice just how well all the coffee shops were doing. Black Canyon franchises are strictly controlled, and it turned out that Phuket already had its allocated share. But she realised that there weren’t any at all on Samui. So her first branch matched the opening of the original Tesco Lotus superstore on the island, followed by another in 2009,

in the second outlet of the same brand superstore in Lamai. And this was capped just one year ago, when the prestigious Central Festival mall appeared in the middle of Chaweng, complete with Black Canyon number 3 perched up on the second floor, overlooking the main entrance court.

Khun Anchalee’s outlook is simple – Black Canyon doesn’t need to depend on the seasonal tourist trade because it attracts custom from locals all year round, and that includes canny expats as well as Thais. You won’t find drinks at around the 200 baht mark, or expensive snacks. Everything is priced to be affordable. But that doesn’t mean cutting back on quality or variety, and the drinks offerings alone have a full menu to themselves, 7-2and include hot and iced variations of coffees, teas, chocolates, fruit juices and shakes, smoothies and yoghurts.

But here’s the thing: Black Canyon isn’t just a coffee shop that sells excellent coffee. Yes, their coffees are made from selected blends of the best Robusta and Arabica beans, and their well-trained and experienced baristas have won numerous national competitions. But they also offer a substantial range of food, too. Note – not just over-priced slivers of gateau and nibbles, but a real, solid Thai and International menu that flirts tantalisingly with touches of fusion, blending aspects of both cultures on more than a few of their dishes. Plus, to go with all this, they also have a kiddies menu, too.

One of the most impressive things is the actual format of the menu itself, and it’s a delight to leaf through. A large full-colour picture, plus a line or two of explanation accompanies every item. And there are also little side-notes on culture or traditions or background history dotted around, here and there. This style of menu is not only a boon for those who might not be entirely sure of what the dishes are, or look like, but it’s a great marketing device, too – it’s quite common that customers who’ve come in with pasta in mind get seduced by the gammon instead. Such is the power of pictures!

And it just has to be pointed out once more that the prices are a dream; most dishes seem to be in the range of 150 baht and 200 baht, with even the beef steak being not a great deal more than this. Plus on top of this, there’s also rib-eye, salmon steak, pork chops, and a chicken steak, and all come with a choice of either spaghetti or fries, and sauces such as mushroom, cheese or black pepper. And there’s also a whole section of pasta dishes, with flavourings that range from the traditional, to Thai-influenced seafood sauces. Plus there are noodle dishes, rice dishes, quite a wide veggie section, and a selection of traditional Thai desserts and ice cream to round things off.

But, still on the subject of cost, there are attractive additional offers and promotions from time to time. And this month, in March only, you’d have to be crazy not to pop over and avail yourself of this one! There are four new menu items and four new beverages. Combine any one drink with any one of the new dishes on offer and get 15% off the total bill! Choose from iced white chocolate cappuccino, mocha white chocolate frappe, hot white chocolate mocha, or the iced strawberry yoghurt. And pit them against sweet & spicy fried fish with rice plus omelette soup, stir-fry black pepper kurobuta pork with rice plus omelette soup, grilled fish and soy sauce with rice plus clear spicy soup, or go for the grilled kurobuta pork with rice plus clear spicy soup.

The name’s Black Canyon Coffee, and you can drop in anytime at the three venues mentioned above. In fact, there are a great many reasons to do so!


Rob De Wet


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