Sunday 26 October 2014

A Beginner’s Guide to the best Vietnamese Coffee in Ho Chi Minh / Saigon

Firstly, please don’t be fooled by the word ‘guide’ in the title… this post is just a collection of some of the places I visited but I really just scratched the surface.

I always knew that they liked their coffee in Vietnam but whilst walking around Ho Chi Minh on my recent culinary adventures (see here & here), I came to realise how much they LOVE their coffee!

Introduced to coffee by the French in the colonial days, the Vietnamese sweetened the strong dark roast with condensed milk due to the unavailability of fresh milk.

My first observation of Vietnamese coffee culture is the role reversal it plays with food compared to the UK. In England, people are much more likely to sit and eat food in a comfortable setting and grab a coffee on the go in a paper cup; in Ho Chi Minh, food is usually eaten street side whereas coffee is enjoyed in a more modish setting. Certainly many of the coffee houses I visited would not be out of place in trendy hipster hangouts like Manchester’s Northern Quarter or London’s Shoreditch.

The most common ways to drink coffee in Vietnam are: Cà phê sữa đá (iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk), Cà phê đen đá (iced black coffee), Cà phê sữa nóng (hot coffee with sweetened condensed milk) and Cà phê đen nóng (hot black coffee). Most coffee is served with a side of iced, weak unsweetened green tea; this is called Trà Đá. Of course, all the usual preparations such as Cappuccino, Espresso and Flat White are also available… as is ‘Weasel Coffee’ (don’t ask).

All these places were great but I have ranked them in descending order of my favourites based on quality of coffee and overall vibe.

Bâng Khuâng Café – 9 Thái Văn Lung (2nd floor), Quận 1

She Café158D Pasteur (1st floor), Quận 1

Chez Vous Coffee House – Phan Bội Châu (1st floor), Quận 1

The Morning Café36 Lê Lợi (2nd floor),  Quận 1

I.D Café34D Thủ Khoa Huân, Quận 1

M2C Café44B Lý Tự Trọng, Quận 1

Thức Coffee – 156A Pasteur, Quận 1

Saigonista38/1 Lê Lợi (2nd floor), Quận 1

La Rotonde77B Hàm Nghi (1st floor), Quận 1

Shelter13 Lê Thánh Tôn, Quận 1

Strata Café (50th floor) Bitexco Financial Tower 2 Hải Triều, Bến Nghé, Quận 1


  1. Nice post Hoss, you certainly made it to some interesting looking independents. I only made it to some of the chains (Trung Nguyen, Highlands, Phuc Long), but they were all serving amazing stuff and at 40 to 80p a pop too! Most disappointing thing was see the new Starbucks full of people though. Don't know if you've ever made it to Hanoi, but I found the coffee/cafe culture even better there especially in the French quarter.

  2. Hi Hoss, great post and you have me officially craving another trip back to Saigon. I think it might surprise people just how big the coffee culture/scene is in Vietnam. It's hands down the best coffee in the world and all these suggested shops are a great guide for people looking for the best. With so many cafes in each District this post can save people so much time.

    As for when I'm back home in Southern California I get my fix with ChestBrew coffee. It's a passion project that my husband Minh and I ventured into because of our love and need for great Vietnamese coffee. The whole bean coffee is harvested and roasted in Vietnam and we're happy to say that people in the U.S. are really loving it.

    Nice job helping to share the great things about the Vietnamese culture Hoss! We're looking forward to following your work!


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