I found my coffee heaven. The buzzing Vietnamese city of Hanoi is packed full of historic sites to visit, gorgeous food to enjoy and most importantly, the best Vietnamese coffee shops to explore.
There are some mixed opinions amongst the experts and self-proclaimed coffee snobs (I am definitely one of them!) about Vietnamese coffee being bogus and full of additives. Fair enough, but for us, muggles, Vietnamese coffee in Hanoi is as good as it gets.
Vietnamese Coffee Culture in Hanoi
Vietnamese coffee culture in Hanoi is very noticeable. As soon as you start exploring the capital city, you’ll see how much the Vietnamese enjoy their coffee, mostly over ice, all day long, without guilt.
They sit on colourful, tiny stools chatting away with their friends, work colleagues or browsing social networks on their smartphones. These kind of scenes in all of the Vietnamese coffee shops are priceless and picture-perfect.
The Arabica trees were first brought to Vietnam by the French in the mid-nineteenth century, but the Vietnamese took coffee growing, producing, and making to a different level, becoming one of the largest coffee producers in the world.
Hanoi might seem like a busy place with thousands of bikes buzzing back and forth in an organised mess, but once you squat down on one of those tiny stools, you suddenly see and definitely feel the chilled coffee vibe across the city.
Vietnamese Drip Coffee in Hanoi – Personal Experience
I still remember the first sip of my Vietnamese drip coffee on an early, damp morning in the city.
The first thing that hit my nose was the coffee scent. Rich, nutty aroma mixed with chocolate notes. Once I had enough sniffing, I had a sip. Honestly, I thought my tasting buds had gone crazy as the thick, insanely strong but smooth and chocolatey Vietnamese coffee filled my throat.
The feeling was sensational as I’d never had anything quite like this before. In one sentence, it tastes like top quality melted dark chocolate.
After a couple of days in the capital, we soon realised that to lazily enjoy Vietnamese coffee – hot or cold – is the ultimate thing to do in Hanoi.
How is Vietnamese Drip Coffee Made?
To make the chocolatey coffee, the locals use a Vietnamese coffee filter called a Phin, which sits at the top of a cup. Clear glass is often used for visual effect.
The filter chamber is filled with coffee and a very thin filter press is used to weight the coffee grounds down. The cap is placed at the top of the filter which also has another useful purpose.
It takes a while for the Vietnamese coffee to drip through the filter, especially if it’s made properly. The thick chocolatey drink wiggles it’s way very slowly to the cup, be patient – it will be worth it.
What do you do with the whole filter once the coffee is in your cup? Where do you put it? It’s still a little bit wet underneath and can stain the surface…
This is where the lid comes in. You place the filter onto the upturned lid so that the remaining moisture doesn’t seep onto the table or cloth.
In some, more local Vietnamese coffee shops, you will be served a coffee that has been brewed for you already and you don’t get to play around with the filter.
Making Vietnamese Coffee at Home
Can you brew Vietnamese drip coffee at home? Sure you can. You can buy the Phin (Vietnamese coffee filter) on every corner in Hanoi, also in Vietnamese coffee shops in touristy areas. The price varies from 10,000 VND for a tiny filter to 30,000 VND for a larger one.
Once you have the Vietnamese coffee maker, you will need good quality Vietnamese coffee beans so you can enjoy the full experience.
If you are looking to buy Vietnamese coffee beans online, we recommend Vietnamese coffee brand Trung Nguen.
So now you have your Vietnamese coffee filter and Vietnamese coffee beans, right? Great, now you can start making tasty Vietnamese coffee at home! To learn how to make the perfect coffee at home, have a look at this friendly, step-by-step tutorial on Trung Nguen website. It’s really helpful.
The Secret to Making a Silky Smooth Vietnamese Coffee
While exploring the local Vietnamese coffee shops we got friendly with a very nice Vietnamese lady from one of the cafes. We were chatting away over a cup of strong morning mud when she shared a little secret of how she makes the perfect Vietnamese coffee.
Here it goes, the Vietnamese coffee secret of the year: when you add coffee grounds to the filter, don’t rush pouring hot water over it. Instead, add a little bit of hot water to the lid and sit the filter into it. Let the coffee grounds soak up the hot water and expand. Only then sit the filter over your cup and pour hot water over the coffee. It was the best Vietnamese coffee we had in Hanoi.
Hacks for Keeping Vietnamese Coffee Hot
Vietnamese coffee can get cold very quickly as it can take up to 5 minutes or so to drip through the filter. But, as we experienced while sniffing Vietnamese coffee shops around the town, there are a few hacks to keep it warm.
Most of the cafes will use a dish of hot water to keep the drink warm, but in our neighbourhood, the locals placed a candle dish, with a burning candle inside, underneath the coffee cup. Practical and pretty!
Vietnamese Coffee Choices in Hanoi
There are more coffee choices in Hanoi than you can drink in one day.
Black coffee, Vietnamese iced coffee, sweet Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk, coconut coffee, yogurt coffee, and the iconic egg coffee.
These are the most famous variations:
- Ca Phe Nong – black coffee
- Ca Phe Sua Nong – sweet black coffee with condensed milk
- Ca Phe Sua Da – iced coffee with condensed milk.
If you feel like treating yourself, try the Ca Phe Trung – egg coffee. A truly amazing creation first invented in Cafe Giang.
It’s sweet and incredibly rich due to egg yolk whipped together with condensed milk. It’s a winning combination! Do try it, it’s heavenly. You may not find it anywhere else, we warned you.
Travelling Around Vietnam? To check information and routes we recommend using the excellent Seat61.com rail travel website. To book Vietnam train tickets use the super friendly 12GoAsia website. Book online and there’s no need to print your tickets, just show them to the station staff before you board on your smartphone. No running around looking for a place to print anything. Nice.
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Where to Find the Best Vietnamese Coffee Shops in Hanoi
There is a vast array of Vietnamese coffee shops in Hanoi where you will be served a great cup of coffee. But aside from those in the city centre, also try the ones outside the buzzing Old Quarter. It was the Do Hanh area where I had the best Vietnamese coffee experience in Hanoi.
But if you are staying in or nearby the historic Old Quarter, check out these Vietnamese Coffee Shops.
Cafe Lam – One of the Oldest Cafes in the Capital
This was our favourite. It is one of the oldest Vietnamese coffee shops in Hanoi and even referred to as a historic monument.
Get your hot or cold Vietnamese-style coffee and wander in to explore an impressive collection of modern Vietnamese art hanging on the walls.
For the ultimate experience, join in the locals and sip your coffee outside. Squat on one of those tiny colourful stools, they are surprisingly comfortable.
60 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Cafe Giang – the Inventors of the Iconic Vietnamese Egg Coffee
Conveniently located next door to Cafe Lam, Cafe Giang is another Vietnamese coffee institution, forever buzzing with coffee addicts. You will have to walk through a very narrow alleyway to step into the ‘egg coffee lane’.
Since they are the inventors of the eggy coffee, choose the tiramisu like Ca Phe Trung for your afternoon sweet treat, it would be rude not to.
39 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Lý Thái Tổ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Vietnamese Coffee Shop with a View – Cafe Pho Co
For the beautiful views of the Hoan Kiem Lake, head to Cafe Pho Co. It is quite tricky to find this place as it’s hidden at the back of a shop filled with silk produce and touristy t-shirts.
The sign is so tiny that it’s hard to see it from the street. Once you find your way in, order your drink at the ‘reception’ area downstairs and then head upstairs to a peaceful terrace.
To reach the lake viewing platform, take the spiral staircase all the way up. For double indulgence, order their cakes, they are fresh and very delicious.
11 Hang Trong Ha Noi, 11 Hàng Gai, Hàng Trống, Hà Nội, Vietnam
The Hidden Gem in the Old Quarter – Cafe Indigenous
In the Old Quarter, next to St Joseph Cathedral, you’ll find Cafe Indigenous. It’s so tiny it’s really easy to miss it. We sure did! You’ll get a seat if you are lucky as it only has a few tables. It also sells nice coffee accessories such as Vietnamese coffee filters and various souvenirs.
36 Ấu Triệu, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
The Nation’s Favourite Cong Caphe
Loved by both locals and visitors Cong Caphe is one of those Vietnamese Coffee Shops that you will return to again and again. It has a very lively and friendly vibe and is open till late.
It was the first place we popped in for a celebratory beer to cheer the new country as soon as we arrived in Hanoi. This coffee chain is scattered across the whole country.
Download this article as a self-guided walking tour on your smartphone.
Check out our Hanoi Coffee walk on gpsmycity.com
Coconut Iced Coffee Anyone?
You’ve tried the creamy egg coffee, now it’s time for the ultimate Vietnamese coffee experience – coconut iced coffee.
Bac Xiu coffee is made with regular Vietnamese drip coffee, condensed milk, and coconut cream and usually served over ice. It’s a very refreshing drink if you don’t want anything too strong. I think the Cong Caphe serves a similar brew, but we tried it in the ancient coastal town of Hoi An.
Weasel Coffee – the Most Expensive Vietnamese Coffee?
Just like Kopi Luwak in Indonesia, Vietnamese specialise in Weasel Coffee also known as Civet-cat coffee. You will see many Vietnamese coffee shops in Hanoi and the rest of Vietnam selling it.
At specialised coffee shops around the world, this kind of coffee sells around $30 per cup making it the most expensive Vietnamese coffee in Hanoi (and Vietnam). So, the question is whether the Weasel coffee you see on the streets is a real deal or a tourist trap?
The Vietnamese coffee beans sniffed out, eaten and digested by the Asian Civet makes, supposedly, the finest coffee in the world. However, after the Vietnam (or American) War, it has been much harder to source such beans.
Allegedly, farmers in the central highlands area of Vietnam started illegally cutting down the coffee trees as well as hunting Civets for food. As a result, fake Civet coffee started dominating the market.
The fellow travellers also showed us some photos from a coffee plantation in Dalat where the animals are kept in tight cages. It’s up to you whether you want to try the famous Weasel coffee in Vietnam, but we left it out this time round.
As you travel across Vietnam, don’t be surprised to get a cup of Vietnamese instant coffee. It’s especially popular down in the south. If you visit Hoi An, pop into the silent Reaching Out Tea House run by the hearing impaired locals. They have a whole different selection of coffee to indulge in.
Which Vietnamese coffee shops did you visit in Hanoi? Which Vietnamese coffee is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below…