After we got to try Vietnamese coffee for the first time, there hasn’t been a return. Our first coffee experience in Vietnam was in a small street cafe in Hai Phong. We sat down on tiny plastic chairs, ordered two cups and observed the chaotic traffic with chickens and dogs running around us. Right after the first sip, we could understand why Vietnamese coffee is hyped so much. Well, it’s just perfect. It is strong, aromatic and has a slightly chocolaty nuance.
Vietnamese coffee is served in small portions like espresso and you are supposed to enjoy it with slow sips. You can find every kind of cafes at every corner in Vietnam. From our opinion coffee tastes the best in a street cafe, sitting on plastic chairs among locals.
A while ago a waitress accidentally brought us americanos instead of Vietnamese coffee in one cafe and to be honest, it tasted like dishwater. Our biggest concern at the moment is how we can ever survive without Vietnamese coffee again?! Luckily we have a Vietnamese drip coffee maker and a bag of coffee in our backpack for the worst cravings. When you are in Vietnam, you should forget about lattes and cappuccinos and skip Starbucks as the real authentic coffee can be found in local coffee shops.
The coffee capital Hanoi is especially well known for its own specialty egg coffee. We wanted to take everything out of Hanoi’s cafes during our last days in Vietnam and try different kinds of coffee. In Hanoi and other places in Northern Vietnam the coffee is remarkably more “expensive” than in the south. While you get a cup for 8.000-15.000 dong ($0,35-0,65) in Saigon, in Hanoi one coffee will set you back about 15.000-30.000 dong or more. Anyhow, even in the worst case you will only pay a couple of dollars for a fancy specialty coffee. In many countries you would only get a very basic coffee for that price.
If you are planning to try all possible kinds of coffee in one day, prepare yourself for shaky hands and a sleepless night. But it is definitely worth it. Welcome to the coffee tour to Hanoi with us!
Vietnamese black coffee (Ca phe den)
Our coffee tour started with basic black coffee and this time it was homemade. Vietnamese coffee is prepared with a drip coffee maker that only makes one cup at a time. You should add a pinch of salt or fish sauce to the coffee to bring a richer taste. The coffee grounds are pressed into a tight cake. And then you just have to wait. The coffee should drip slowly drop by drop. The slower it drips, the stronger and better the coffee will be. Vietnamese normally add sugar to black coffee so if you don’t like sweet, you should mention it in the coffee shop. A little bit of sweetness goes quite well with Vietnamese coffee though albeit we don’t normally use sugar.
When you drink coffee in a Vietnamese style, you should forget about hurry and concentrate in gossiping with your companion or do some people watching. Vietnamese normally spend hours enjoying one small cup of coffee which might feel weird especially in inpatient Europeans’ eyes.
Depending on the coffee shop, the coffee can be served already dripped or it can be brought to you with the drip coffee maker which means you have to wait at least fifteen minutes. The coffee is normally drank cold with ice but you can also order hot coffee. In Hanoi is not common to get free tea with the coffee but in southern parts of Vietnam you get it every time. When you drink coffee in a Vietnamese style, you should forget about hurry and concentrate in gossiping with your companion or do some people watching. Vietnamese normally spend hours enjoying one small cup of coffee which might feel weird especially in inpatient Europeans’ eyes.
Vietnamese milk coffee (Ca phe sua/nau)
In Vietnam milk coffee doesn’t mean coffee with skimmed milk but with sweet and heavy condensed milk. Strong and aromatic coffee combined with this sweet stuff is simply a perfect and hooking combination! During our three months in Vietnam, we have enjoyed countlessly many milk coffees in various cafes.
The condensed milk is poured on the bottom of the glass and covered with coffee. Then you just stir everything with or without ice. You can basically order a milk coffee in any stall or coffee shop in Vietnam. We have fallen in love with this combo so much that we will definitely keep condensed milk in our kitchen also in the future. It might not be the lightest stuff but on the other hand, a small amount is enough to bring a good taste. You can find milk coffee on the menu with the name ca phe nau in Northern Vietnam and ca phe sua in Southern Vietnam.
Egg coffee (Ca phe trung)
Then we come to Hanoi’s own specialty and pride: egg coffee! If you skip this coffee in Hanoi, you cannot even say you have been there. The most popular spot to try traditional egg coffee prepared with the original recipe is Giang Cafe. But you can find equally good stuff also in many other cafes.
Egg and coffee definitely sound like a weird combination. Egg is beaten to a fluffy foam and poured on hot coffee. The ingredients go together surprisingly well and the drink reminds of cake dough. Everyone who has ever scraped the bottoms of a dough bowl with a spoon while baking knows this taste.
We drank our egg coffees in Cafe Dinh in the old quarter of Hanoi. The place is a small and traditional cafe mainly crowded with locals only. The balcony offers a perfect view to Hoan Kiem lake and the coffees are very tasty but at the same time the prices are very reasonable too. The cafe is hidden on the second floor and you have to go through a bag store to get in. It’s not easy to spot this cafe just randomly.
13 Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội
Egg coffee 20.000 dong, regular coffee 15.000 dong, yogurt coffee 15.000 dong
Yogurt coffee (Ca phe sua chua)
We ordered a yogurt coffee also in Cafe Dinh as we happened to spot it on the menu. Yogurt mixed with coffee sounds at least as suspicious as egg, but also this combination works out surprisingly well! Johanna fell in love with it totally because it tastes like Finnish coffee yogurt without being overly sweet. Jarkko had a bit mixed feelings but still, there was something hooking in this drink. Yogurt coffee is made simply by throwing natural yogurt to the glass together with coffee and ice. It is a refreshing drink to enjoy on a hot day and also serves as a snack.
Coffee avocado banana shake (sinh to ca phe chuoi bo)
We read somewhere that coffee mixed with an avocado and banana shake is popular in Hanoi. For some reason, we had difficulties to find a cafe serving it though. Eventually we stopped by in An Cafe that serves both shakes and coffees and ordered the drink outside of the menu. The waitress had never heard of this combination and was very doubtful towards our idea. Anyhow, she was so nice that she still promised to make it for us. At that point we were a bit afraid how it will be. The coffee shake turned out to be very tasty though!
The coffee avocado banana shake is a perfect breakfast or snack that gives you energizing caffeine, avocado’s healthy fats and the vitamins of banana. We will definitely prepare this later at home too. Even the waitress was positively surprised and considered taking the drink to their menu. So this time it was worth taking the risk and order this extraordinary combination.
15 Phủ Doãn, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội
Coffee avocado banana shake 53.ooo dong
The variations of Vietnamese coffee are endless and we still didn’t try at least coconut coffee and weasel coffee that is sold in many coffee shops in Hanoi. Well, that means we have a good reason to return to Vietnam to drink coffee!
Are you a friend of Vietnamese coffee?