It goes without saying that Vietnam is the coffee—and should we dare say, tea—capital of Southeast Asia. Nobody does coffee like Vietnam, and you know it’s true, if you’ve been to other countries in the region, or have at least, sampled several variants from your home country.
Coffee was part of Vietnam’s French heritage. The French brought coffee to the country in the 19th century, but it wasn’t until the early 90s that the business moved into boomtown. Devastated by the Vietnam war, the Communist party sought ways to revive its economy, and ended up boosting its coffee production.
Today, Vietnam is the second largest exporter of coffee to the rest of the caffeine-loving world. According to data from the BBC, the country’s market share is now 20%, a huge leap from where it was three decades earlier. Below is a quick Hanoi cafe guide on the top three spots tourists frequent in the capital:
Cong Ca Phe is the embodiment of military chic and is one of the most popular cafes in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. The waiting staff don a wearable variation of army guard uniforms, and the walls, transformed into a springboard for political pep talk. Has it made its point across? Just ask the many intrigued tourists entering its doors. The cafe is filled to the brim especially in the late afternoons and evenings.
According to its website, the self-proclaimed “hipster cafe & lounge” was established in 2007 and began as a small cafeteria in Trieu Viet Vuong, an “old coffee street” in the city. It aims to promote the ideals of the socialist republic, as well as a “different emotional experience” of Vietnam.
The cafe is famous for its cold sweet coffee, served in little glass mugs, as well as its sandwiches. Like most coffee places in Vietnam, a cup of coffee at Cong costs less than $5. The brand is currently expanding to new markets and has recently launched a branch in Yeonnam-dong neighborhood in Seoul last July.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CongCaphe/
Cafe Runam is an upscale coffee shop with a western restaurant feel to it in the middle of the Old Quarters. From Boutique Splendora, we took a five-minute walk to the place, and spent some time browsing the shop beside it as we wait for our order (service is a little bit slow because the place was always packed). Walk-ins are all right, but we recommend making a reservation beforehand, especially if you’re having a long lunch or dinner. The former company I worked with held a meeting with 20+ colleagues here, and even with a reservation, we waited for some time to get seated (it was a Sunday when we went there).
Must-try’s are the egg coffee and bun cha sandwiches, which we ordered (I ordered the cappuccino, one of the Cafe’s bestsellers, on a separate meeting). Their coffee is a bit on the stronger side—full-bodied and flavorful—which you could temper with some milk or sugar. Ngo tells City Pass Guide that the cafe has a roasting facility and coffee testing lab in the Binh Duong province. They have an Italian Roastmaster who is the mastermind behind their innovative Vietnamese coffee blends.
Contact Details: +0838221037
Address: 13 Nhà Thờ, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/runambistro
Cafe Trung Nguyen
Hailed as the Starbucks of Vietnam, Trung Nguyen Coffee is a coffee conglomerate that was founded in 1996, and is considered one of the best coffee brands in Hanoi, or Vietnam, for that matter. The company’s coffee shops are a common fixture of busy streets in Vietnam; this might sound as an exaggeration, but in Hanoi there’s probably one in every corner in the Hoan Kiem Lake district.
According to the company’s website, the company offers “rich, multi-species heirloom coffee” that are “deep-roasted but never burnt.” It then continues with some trivia: that Vietnamese coffee is traditionally packaged as ground coffee because they are brewed with the use of a Phin filter, which is an authentic way of brewing and serving coffee in Southeast Asia.
We passed by the coffee shop at an intersection somewhere near Hoan Kiem after walking from Green Papaya. It serves its drip coffee in one of those stainless steel, single-cup Phin filters, and you have to wait for it to cool down. They weren’t joking when they said that their coffee is rich, and the tannins are really pronounced. If you like your coffee strong, Trung Nguyen is a good match for you.
Facebook Page: https://wwb.facebook.com/trungnguyen.com.vn/
These three famous coffee joints are just some of the must-visit ones if you want to do some Hanoi cafe hopping. They serve probably one of the best Vietnamese coffee in Hanoi, but there may be more that have not been included in the list. If you’ve been to other places where you’ve had a noteworthy brew, sound off in the comments’ section below.
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Featured Image Credit: Cong Caphe/Facebook