Did you know that Vietnam is the second largest coffee producer and exporter in the world?
I didn’t until I did some research prior to my visit. The French brought coffee over to Vietnam as early as the 17th century, but didn’t really cultivate it much later in the mid 1800s.
My grandparents often raved about how good Vietnamese coffee is, and I wholeheartedly agree with them. The rich and robust blend of robusto and arabica, coupled with sweet condensed milk and ice… pure heaven.
So I made this one of my main missions when visiting Hanoi: explore as many coffee shops as possible and discover what the coffee scene is really like in Hanoi.
After a week of coffee runs and a coffee tour with a Hanoian coffee expert later, I’m happy to share with you my complete coffee / coffee shop guide for Hanoi, the capital of this marvellous country. For my fellow digital nomads, I will also provide information on whether the coffee shop is nomad-friendly or not!
1. Hanoi Coffee Station
Funny story: Whilst looking for this place, we went past an old man who was sitting by the road side. He looked us from head to toe, then asked, “Coffee? Coffee?” I refused him politely, and gestured ahead the road to signal to him that we’re headed to a café. After a few steps, Google map told us that we’ve went past it. We doubled back and the old man waved us over and pointed to the small alleyway next to where he was sitting. We looked up, and there it was: Hanoi Coffee Station.
That aside, this café is a cute mix of modern and old. The AC was a cool reprieve from the May heat but if you enjoy having your coffee outdoors, they also have nice little balconies that oversee the streets. For digital nomads, they also have reliable wifi, wide tables and power sockets everywhere. If you’re hungry, they have healthy food options such as smoothie bowls and avocado toast.
Now, for the coffee!
They have a nice selection of local beans and brews. You will find your classic European-style coffee here: espresso, latte, cappuccino, etc. You will also find something interesting called the ‘Vietnamese egg coffee’.
Yep. It’s exactly what it sounds like—vietnamese coffee with a twist of coconut syrup, honey, and egg yolk, instead of the conventional condensed milk and egg white. I would describe the taste as creamy, eggy, coconuty goodness.
Coffee: 8/10. So many choices and all so good!
Nomad-meter: 8/10. Great coffee, good food, reliable wifi, power sockets everywhere and nice cosy ambience to work in.
Ambience: 7.5/10. Clean, modern with a twist of cosy old.
2. Cafe Đinh
If you’ve done your research on coffee places in Hanoi, chances are you’ve stumbled upon the egg coffee.
Now, before you go, “Eeeww”, hear me out.
Egg coffee, like its name suggests, is coffee with egg in it. More specifically, egg yolk, sugar, condensed milk and robusta coffee. Some people actually call this “Vietnamese cappuccino” and it’s not too far from the truth.
The story of the egg coffee origin goes like this:
There was a shortage of fresh milk in Vietnam during the French War, which drove the prices of milk high up. Most Vietnamese would line the bottom of the cup with condensed milk and pour the coffee on top, and that’s exactly how traditional Vietnamese coffee is served today. Wanting to create a version of the western-style cappuccino, Nguyen whisked in eggs as a substituted and needless to say, this frothy-creamy coffee drink exploded into popularity and grew to become a successful business. However, Nguyen did not want to pass the egg coffee recipe and the business to his only daughter. He wanted to keep it only for his sons. His daughter, did not give two squats and decided to take the recipe anyway and opened her own cafe right in the same old quarter where his two brothers set up their cafés.
She sadly passed away a few years ago and now it’s managed by her husband. Cafe Đinh still preserves its at-home-in-the-living-room atmosphere that invites customers to come in for a coffee and chat.
Coffee: 8/10. If you like creamy coffee with a side of pretty latte art, then try the original egg coffee recipe!
Nomad-meter: 5/10. The small convivial place is great for chatting, but not so much to work in.
Ambience: 6/10. Has a touch of old charm but without an air-conditioner, it was too warm for me.
3. Cộng Cà Phê
Remember that time when you’ve really wanted to have a great cup of Vietnamese coffee with a side of communist decor?
I’ve counted more than 20 Cộng Cà Phê branches all across Hanoi and I’ve been to more than 5 in the Old Quarter alone. Each joint is decorated in its signature army green colour with spots of Lenin texts, floral seat cushions and retro furniture.
Through western eyes, the visible pops of Communist accents might come as a shock in the beginning, but you’ll soon see past the decor to realise a touch of hipster and a whole lot of nostalgia—Communism is rooted in Vietnamese history after all.
On their menu, you’ll find coconut coffee suggested as one of their signature drinks. I highly recommend their coconut coffee because it’s definitely one of the best I’ve had in my entire lifetime. It comes as a smoothie, but if you’re after something lighter, then try their normal iced coffee mixed with coconut milk.
Coffee: 8/10. Amazing coconut coffee!
Nomad-meter: 7.5/10. The coffee is really good and the wifi is fast. This place gets jam-packed really quick so if you’re looking to work here for longer than 30 minutes, you might feel pressured to move elsewhere.
Ambience: 8.5/10. LOVE the nostalgic communist decor!
4. Lifted Coffee and Brunch
We actually came here for brunch because it was a brief 2 minutes walk away from our airbnb. If you’re interested in finding out how their food rates, you can check out my post here.
The only way I can think of describing the vibe of this joint is Aussie meets Vietnam. Decor wise it’s quite modern—neon lights, a bright Super Mario grafitti wall and Melbourne coffee listed on their menu. Apparently, they also have really great and creative glazed donuts but we didn’t get to try any.
In terms of coffee, I went with a traditional iced Vietnamese coffee instead and it did not disappoint.
Coffee: 8/10. I didn’t try their Melbourne coffees but their traditional Vietnamese coffee is really good!
Nomad-meter: 7/10. If you want good western-style brunch, this is the place for you. They also have pretty solid wifi but I didn’t check for power sockets. However, the cosy space is more suitable for casual conversation and Sunday brunches.
Ambience: 7/10. Quirky urban style but personally, I’m more of a retro fan.
5. The Hanoi Social Club
Imagine characteristic long French windows, white columns, colourful abstract art covering the walls and bluesy music. That’s my first impression upon entering this place.
After hearing so many recommendations by locals and foreigners to visit this place, we’ve decided to give it a go and come here for breakfast. Like many coffee shops in Hanoi, the menu was a great mix of west meets east dishes and drinks.
If you’re interested in finding out how the food turned out, click here!
As you can guessed, I ordered the traditional Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk. When in Vietnam, right? It was amazing as usual—rich, strong, sweet and extremely yummy.
For my fellow digital nomads, they have a solid wifi on each floor (there’s two) and they have power sockets all around. We actually worked for a bit here and found the atmosphere to be quite alright. Apparently we were not the only ones who felt that way because there were quite a lot of people who were working on their laptops in the cafe.
Coffee: 8/10. Traditional Vietnamese coffee did not disappoint!
Nomad-meter: 8/10. It can get filled up pretty quickly but since they have two floors, we actually worked in peace and did not feel pressured to move elsewhere.
Ambience: 7.5/10. The bluesy music and old French vibe were really me, but it can get a bit noisy with all the chatter.
6. The Note Café
I put this café on the list purely because it’s such a popular coffee shop for tourists mostly due to its quirky concept.
As you can guess from the name, The Note Café is entirely covered with sticky notes left by previous visitors—the AC, the fans, walls, tables, windows, you name it. This lends a very cheery and poppy vibe to the whole place.
Right at the entrance is the bar where you need to place your order before proceeding upstairs to sit. I think it’s because there are many floors (I think I counted 5) so it’s more convenient for you and them. If you’re sick of coffee at this point and would like something fresh, they have a nice selection of fruit smoothies that you can try.
As for working environment, the café gets really packed but thankfully there are many floors. The wifi is alright and I didn’t check for power sockets because the AC wasn’t on and we were really feeling the heat.
I had traditional Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk and it was alright. J had a banana strawberry smoothie and he really liked it so maybe try the smoothie as well!
One thing you must do though, is leave a handwritten note! There are small boxes containing stick notes and pens everywhere so feel free to leave a personal message for future visitors!
Coffee: 6/10. The coffee was alright, but you can definitely find better Vietnamese coffee at other places on this list.
Nomad-meter: 6/10. The place was quite packed and maybe it was just when we went but it can get really hot and stuffy without the AC.
Ambience: 6/10. Really quirky but it wasn’t very conducive to work in for me.
THE HIDDEN GEM: Reng Reng Café
I didn’t find out about this place until a few locals—including my coffee tour guide—recommended this place to me. She told me that only the locals know about this place and I can see why.
The space is actually quite small and cosy, with the interior decorated in quite a modern minimalistic style. The seating arrangement, however, is very Vietnamese. In place of tables and chairs, you will be drinking your coffee on small stools and a tiny low square of a table next to you. To be honest, I really love drinking coffee this way, because it somehow sits you closer to the person you’re talking to and it creates a very casual and convivial atmosphere.
Or so I thought.
This place has no wifi, you’re not welcomed to stay a long time, and also, you will be asked to speak in a low voice if you’re planning to speak to your friends. I’ve been told by my guide beforehand about this, and she said it’s because the owners are not trying to publicise their café since they get enough customers. Also the reason why I felt awkward taking a picture of this place, so no picture sorry.
A strange place indeed, but the coffee is oh so good and if you’re searching for a moment of solitude in busy Hanoi, with hopefully a good book and some strong robust cup of coffee, then don’t miss this place.
Just don’t tell them I sent you.
Coffee: 8/10. SO GOOD. Some people call it pretentious, but for me that just means good coffee.
Nomad-meter: 3/10. If you’re planning to write using charcoal on dried animal skin, then this is not the place to work.
Ambience: 7/10. Weirdly, I quite liked the silence and hushed voices.
So there you go! From urban Melbourne-esque hipster to Communist decors, the capital city of Vietnam is in no shortage of amazing coffees and quirky cafes. Just don’t drink all of them at once.
─── ‧ 。ﾟ☆: *.☽ .* :☆ﾟ. ───
Like this post? Share it on your Pinterest!
─── ‧ 。ﾟ☆: *.☽ .* :☆ﾟ. ───