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 Café – 158D Pasteur (1st floor), Quận 1
Chez Vous Coffee House – Phan Bội Châu (1st floor), Quận 1
The Morning Café – 36 Lê Lợi (2nd floor), Quận 1
I.D Café – 34D Thủ Khoa Huân, Quận 1
M2C Café – 44B Lý Tự Trọng, Quận 1
Thức Coffee – 156A Pasteur, Quận 1
Saigonista – 38/1 Lê Lợi (2nd floor), Quận 1
La Rotonde – 77B Hàm Nghi (1st floor), Quận 1
Shelter – 13 Lê Thánh Tôn, Quận 1
Strata Café (50th floor) Bitexco Financial Tower – 2 Hải Triều, Bến Nghé, Quận 1