Coffee is — on the surface — a straightforward drink. Leave it to a curious, resourceful country like Vietnam to put its own spin on it — and then spin it again, and again. There are more layers to Vietnam’s coffee culture than you’ll find in a tall glass of icy bạc xỉu. But beneath the thousands of cafes that fuel the nation from north to south, there’s a shared love of this energy-restoring beverage that goes beyond taste, and into areas that touch colonial influences, ethnic culture, urban traditions, climate and topography, and Vietnam’s close societal bonds.
La Viet Coffee, Da Lat
La Viet Coffee comes as a surprise to vacationers in Da Lat. One moment you’re amid pine forests, blooming fields and art deco mansions, and the next you’ve entered a huge warehouse-like space, humming with the gentle hum of a factory, cool in its undeniably hipster-like set up, and fragrant — of course — with the aroma of roasting arabica. Once you’ve gotten over your surprise, La Viet turns out to be exactly the kind of place you can spend several hours, sipping off the menu, taking a free tour of the processing area, and picking up a few items from the souvenir shop. If you’re feeling adventurous, give the raspberry macchiato or the lavender iced coffee a whirl.
Address: 200 Nguyen Cong Tru, with outlets in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi
43 Factory Coffee Roaster, Da Nang
Only a few blocks from sandy My Khe Beach, this modern cafe in Da Nang lures tourists and locals with its striking design. Outside, saffron-hued carp swim in a pond surrounding sunken booths, and inside, rays of sunshine penetrate the floor-to-ceiling glass walls, spotlighting a stylish bar and vast seating space. 43 Factory takes pride in careful preparation and presentation of premium coffees from Vietnam and the rest of the world. Apart from coffee, the menu offers a selection of excellent fresh pastries, smoothie bowls, and healthy juices. Prices here are higher than elsewhere, in line with the ambitions of this forward-thinking outfit, and Da Nang itself.
Address: 422 Ngô Thi Sỹ
Cafe-hopping in Vietnam from Vietnam Tourism Board on Vimeo.
The Workshop, Ho Chi Minh City
The three flights of stairs you have to climb before you reach the airy interiors of The Workshop are the perfect intro to this now-established institution. Occupying one of Ho Chi Minh City’s graceful colonial-era spaces, the Workshop reveals just how much the city’s digital nomads and entrepreneurs have embraced the vintage industrial aesthetic. French windows open onto the treetops along Dong Khoi St., and the repurposed wood tables and steel chairs cement the hipster appeal. Stake out a seat by the window, power up your laptop, and enjoy the all-day breakfast options with a filtered coffee of your choice.
Address: 27 Ngo Duc Ke
Rainforest, Nha Trang
Who doesn’t love the idea of a treehouse? Rainforest riffs off this cherished childhood motif to create imaginative spaces adults can’t help but love. The original cafe stands like a greenhouse on a corner in downtown Nha Trang. Swings, sandboxes, and slides are really just a sideshow to the cafe’s cosy booths and corners, where travellers and locals settle in for long chats over coconut coffee. Hanging plants sprout from all corners, creating a soothing environment, and vegetarians will love the healthy food menu. If you can’t make it to Nha Trang, Rainforest also operates an equally photogenic cafe in Da Nang.
Address: 146 Vo Tru
The Married Beans Workspace, Da Lat
Da Lat represents the epicentre of Vietnam’s coffee revolution, so it’s fitting the highland capital is home to some of Vietnam’s most involved and thoughtful coffee houses. The Married Beans sources sustainable, single-origin, small-batch beans directly from 50 farms in the Central Highlands. These beans — mainly arabica, but also some varieties of typica and red bourbon — are roasted, ground, and served at The Married Beans’ eye-catching new work and event space, set within the grounds of a mansion built by Vietnam’s last emperor. The venue offers workshops for coffee drinkers looking to deepen their knowledge. You may be tempted to pick up a branded phin filter or bag of beans on your way out.
Address: 44 Hung Vuong
L’Usine Dong Khoi, Ho Chi Minh City
More than just a cafe, L’Usine is something of a symbol of the cosmopolitan Vietnamese lifestyle in this southern hub. On weekends, well-heeled locals and expats can be spotted nursing coffees and tucking into brunch staples at any of L’Usine’s six locations. But it’s the original venue on Dong Khoi St. that still serves the most character. Historical references decorate the walls in this repurposed colonial structure, and patrons can soak up the chic atmosphere from tastefully appointed tables indoors and out. Coffee is not the focus of the menu, however you can’t go wrong with an order of the Royal Vietnamese iced coffee, or one of L’Usine famously indulgent cupcakes. Take a moment to browse products from artisanal Vietnamese brands in the retail space afterwards.
Address: 151/5 Dong Khoi
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