Vachi Coffee Bar & Bistro in Yasothorn
“Great Coffee with Space for All”
Formerly known as ‘The Coffee Bar’ and located down the road (Soi Chaeng Sanit 1), this coffee shop recently moved to a new and larger location to accommodate its frequent guests and community space feel. It was renamed ‘Vachi Coffee Bar & Bistro’ for its expansion of serving cooked meals, along with its usual coffee and homemade baked goods. The name ‘Vachi’ is a combination of parts of the owner’s parents’ names and a nice homage to the root of why this coffee shop exists today. Its motto, “great coffee with space for all”, is the epitome of its purpose, aiming to serve guests from all backgrounds and give them a space where they can hang out, meet up with friends, or just be themselves…all while drinking great coffee and enjoying tasty bakery items!
Address & Social Media:
174/1 ถ.แจ้งสนิท อ.เมือง จ.ยโสธร 35000, Yasothon
- Hours: Monday – Friday: 8AM – 7PM; Saturday: 9:30AM – 7PM; Closed on Sundays
- Menu highlights: Americano coffee, Honduran latte, lemon poppyseed cake, apple crumble
- “When you do the things that you love, it doesn’t feel like working”
An interview with Noon, the oldest sister of the 2 owners of the shop
Noon studied tourism at Oxford Brookes University for six years. While in Oxford, Noon applied to Starbucks and worked there for many years, eventually receiving a promotion to supervisor. Upon returning to Thailand almost a decade later, Noon had to pay off her Oxford scholarship and so, she was working a full time job and working at a coffee shop.
Working two jobs was tiring and she came to a point where she had to stop and rethink the direction her life was heading in. She thought back to when she worked at Starbucks in England and realized that she was really happy as a barista, being surrounded by people, talking and connecting with them all of the time.
Noon and her younger sisters, Nan and Nat, loved coffee and desired a place to hang out after work where they could relax and drink coffee. They figured that since they wanted this kind of space, others must want a good hangout place as well…
The original coffee shop started as “The Coffee Bar” and they eventually found a bigger space seven years later. Noon soon after decided to quit her job as a teacher of tourism and become a full time barista. One of her good friends was not surprised with her decision and told her that that when Noon was a barista, that was the time her friend saw her happy and being herself. This confirmed Noon’s decision to go forth with her bold decision.
There are a lot of coffee places in Yasothon, but Noon and her sisters agreed that they were all too small and not suitable for sitting for a long time or meeting up with friends. They wanted their coffee bar to be a space for all kinds of people wanting to come and sit and meet up with their friends. They wanted it to be the first place people stopped after work and before returning home for the day. That in-between place would be Vachi….”not just a coffee shop but a place for people”. Noon added that, “These days, drinking coffee is not just drinking coffee…It’s a lifestyle.” Most people like to spend their time in coffee shops, working, eating, drinking coffee, reading, meeting up with friends, etc.
Noon and her sister decided they would make their dream come true. It began from a dream and they built it from there…
Noon used her experience from Starbucks to get her business up and running. Sticking to their idea that their coffee shop would serve the needs of all kinds of people, they decided to have different types of coffee and price ranges that everyone could afford. They have your standard cup of coffee but if you pay a little extra, you get premium or drip coffee. You can get an espresso at the “speed bar” and drop coffee at the “slow bar”. 120 baht for a cup of coffee may sound like a lot, but it becomes popular – People love it and are willing to pay more! And this is the kind of specialty and quality coffee you cannot find anywhere else in Yasothon.
*Please note that you have to order at the counter. The sisters want to change the pattern of people sitting and someone waiting on them. (For those who don’t catch on, there are actually instructions posted on the wall of how to order at the counter.)
Noon is really into her barista work and spends most of her time in the bakery, whereas her sister, Nan, loves being involved in community work. Together, they make a great combination to produce the vision they have of a community-feel coffee space!
Vachi has its own coffee house blend. The beans come from Salotto coffee, which come from farmers which are part of the King’s project in Chiang Mai. They also have another coffee roaster from Khon Kaen, but the beans are from the island of Java in Indonesia. This roaster also imports coffee from Honduras and other countries, which they grow in Chiang Mai. (The Hondurian latte’s smooth and rich flavor will make you crave it and coming back for more!)
Noon mainly learned her barista skills from her years working at Starbucks. As for her baking talent, it seems to come naturally since she has only ever taken a basic baking class in Bangkok and the rest, she finds recipes on the Internet or in English cookbooks. She tries to reduce the sweetness and cater to the taste buds of Thai people. She has mostly learned by doing and the results…well, you’ll have to come test them yourself!
As for the new name, ‘Vachi’, it was her sister’s idea to combine parts of their mother and father’s names to create this unique-sounding name (Mom – ‘Vatcharee’ and dad – ‘Narongchai’). ‘The Coffee Bar’ was to generic for them, and this made it extra special. The sisters show gratitude for their parents in this way and recognize that they are here today because of their parents, that they received a great education because of their parents, and the opportunities they have today are owed to their parents. Consequently, Noon later found out from a Hungarian friend that ‘vachi’ means ‘dining’ in in Hungarian, and the sound ‘chi’ means ‘eating’ in Chinese or Japanese…She felt that serendipitously, these matched with the theme of their coffee bar.
Vachi’s décor is an industrial loft style, inspired by other coffee shops on Instagram and items bought on the Internet. The motorcycle on display is from their parents’ own motorcycle shop. The shop was designed by two friends, one an architect and the other an interior designer. Essentially, it is a “coffee shop for Yasothon people designed by Yasothon people”. Art created by local artists or family members bring life to the walls. There is also a section of shelves displaying local products that people can take home as souvenirs, such as the potato chips made by a friend’s sister.
The coffee shop has developed since its original start. In the original shop, which was smaller, they were limited by the number of tables and customers did not seem to have a lot of privacy. At first, Vachi did not offer food on its menu, only coffee, homemade drinks and bakery items. Frequent customers often asked when they would start serving food. After much popular demand, they recently launched their food menu, serving French fries and other snack foods.
Currently, business is doing quite well and better than before, despite the Thai economy’s rough state. Vachi gets passerby’s of tourists. A lot of foreigners come by during Christmas and New Year holidays, and during the rocket festival in the second week of May. The sisters are always trying to add new things to the menu and they offer a special menu every Saturday, that attracts a faithful following of Saturday “regulars”. The shop has also recently hosted their coffee roaster, who volunteered to come and host workshops about different types of coffee beans or drip coffee. The workshops have been garnering interest from locals wanting to gain more knowledge about coffee.
Looking forward, the sisters have a vision in the works of an upstairs workspace for people to meet, work, or create. They have already installed a large mirror to give it a “studio”feel, a place where people can show their talents in public, out in the open. They also wish to have an open gallery for local artists to hold exhibitions. One of the art pieces on Vachi’s main floor was painted by a local Yasothon artist upon the request of the two sisters. He studied drawing in university and has a large collection of art pieces. Apparently, he has a lot of talent but no place to share it. Artists like him could use the upstairs studio to share their work and inspire others.
After being away from her hometown of Yasothon, Noon yearned to return home. She thought it might be difficult to come back, or that she’d prefer life in Bangkok, but she soon realized that big cities like Bangkok are too busy and have too much traffic. Living in a small town in England and having been back home now for eight years, she got used to places where most faces are familiar, like in Yasothon. She enjoys seeing her friends and family every day…”It feels quite warm”.
Reflecting back on her previous work life, where she used to get migraines from working and complain often, Noon expressed the happiness that working in her coffee shop brings her.
“When you do the things that you love, it doesn’t feel like working”.
Noon shows up to work every day and feels like she’s with family. They spend a lot of time together, laugh together, and eat together. And she hopes her customers will be inspired to do the same with their friends and “great coffee” where there is “space for all” at Vachi.