The Vietnamese have a massive coffee culture here in Hanoi. For every restaurant, there will be a café next door selling a variety of caffeinated combinations that never fail to disappoint, as well as smoothies and juices.
In the mornings, lunch breaks, and well into the evenings, the streets are spilling with Hanoians squatting on the tiny stools, sipping their beverages while socialising. Unlike many Western countries, drinking coffee here isn’t simply a take-away job or a place in which to stare into a laptop. It’s a place to chat, gossip, chill out and linger for hours, nursing your drink while you soak up the electric atmosphere. As long as you pick a spot with a fan directed at the back of your neck, you’re set for the evening.
Coffee in Vietnam has a reputation for its strength. Its flavour is rich and deep, made from finely ground, dark roasted coffee beans from the central highlands of Vietnam. Coffee is generally drunk black or mixed with a sweetener, such as condensed milk (dairy is not easily stored in Vietnam, so they don’t tend to use milk). As the days are to be humid and sticky, coffee is often served on ice, but can be requested hot (the winter months are drawing closer after all).
Coffee is served everywhere, from trendy Western-style cafes, many aiming for a rustic, antique vibe with propaganda artwork, vintage furniture and charming china; to out on the pavements where you sit on tiny child-sized stools with the locals. Each café has their unique styles and selling point, as there’s A LOT of competition.
A cup of coffee typically costs us 20,000 – 30,000 VND (roughly 70p) depending what it’s served with. There are many combinations that we’ve already fallen in love with. Here are some of our favourites:
- Ca Phe Trung (Egg Coffee)
As mentioned, the infamous Caphe Trung is a favourite of Naomi’s, made by whipping raw eggs with condensed milk and pouring over coffee. It sounds like an unlikely fusion of flavours but don’t knock it till you try it! It’s deliciously frothy, creating a sticky gloopy mess at the bottom of your glass. Like a liquid Cadbury Crème Egg. The combination of a super strong shot of coffee and the super sweet milk gives you a much-needed kick after teaching!
- Ca Phe Sua Chua (Yoghurt Coffee)
Iced chocolate yoghurt coffee is another unlikely yet delicious concoction. It creates a sweet and sour taste similar to coffee flavoured frozen yoghurt.
- Sinh tố cốt dừacà phê (Coconut Coffee)
Similar to the yoghurt coffee, coconut coffee is more like an icy desert. Naomi hasn’t mastered the art of savoring her coffees like the locals here, and it’s particularly hard when you’re served one of these bad boys at Cong Caphe (their specialty).
- Ca Phe Da (Iced Black Coffee)
As mentioned, Lawrence has always been a notorious tea drinker and has never enjoyed coffee. However, since moving to Hanoi, he has been converted to the strong Ca Phe Da. Naomi has always had a taste for coffee but has a slightly sweeter tooth and tends to go for the diluted down versions described above.