Have you ever been sitting on the sidewalk to drink a cup of coffee? If not, come to Vietnam, it’s worth spending hours to enjoy it – a unique feature of food and drink in Saigon. When you plan to pick any Saigon tour (Vietnam), remember to take your time to sit on the sidewalk and call a “ca phe da” or “ca phe sua da”. No matter it’s a sightseeing tour, bike tour or even self-tour, take a sip of Vietnamese coffee just like a Saigon-er.
Since the French colonial era, coffee has been a proud symbol of Vietnamese farmers, which helps Vietnam to become one of the countries with the largest export coffee volume in the world.
Coffee has been present in our country for a long time, thus, the style of sipping this drink also varied from generation to generation. Before using filter, people in Saigon often use a bag to purify the coffee. Because the shape of this bag is similar to the socks, they called it coffee with fabric bag (cà phê vợt). Nowadays, Vietnam is also popular for machine coffee, which are delicately drawn with variety of shapes on the surface. Let’s dive into more about those interesting coffee styles!
• Stocking coffee
• Famous Vietnamese filter coffee
• Machine coffee in Vietnamese way
‘Cà phê vợt’ – Coffee prepared in a fabric bag
Young generations from 9x are no longer prevalent for this kind of coffee style anymore. Our grandmothers told us that in the old days, no one knew how to make the coffee by using filter. All process was finished by a small fabric bag. The fabric bag is filled with coffee, then dipped in the boiling kettle and stirred by the chopsticks for several times. After that, people cover the lid on and “cook” the coffee about ten minutes until it can be served for your customers. Making coffee in this way always keeps the coffee purity and fresh. It could be seen that coffee with fabric bag is a specific characteristic in the memory of the old Saigon. At that old time, it was one of the famous symbol of the most dynamic city in Vietnam besides other delicious Vietnamese food – Saigon’s specialties.
Long-standing stocking coffee shops:
• Cheo Leo Café, 109/36 Nguyen Thien Thuat Street, Ward 2, District 3, HCMC
• Café Vợt Phan Đình Phùng, 330 Phan Dinh Phung, Phu Nhuan District, HCMC
‘Cà phê phin’ – Coffee prepared in a filter
‘Cà phê phin’ is the most common and favorite drink of Vietnamese people. People are keen on the feeling of waiting for every drop of coffee flowing down and enjoying the strong, pure taste of the coffee cup. There are different ways of calling coffee in each region. In the Southern of Vietnam, Black coffee is called ‘Cà phê đen’, coffee with milk is ‘Cà phê sữa’, whereas, in the north, it is called ‘Đen đá’ and ‘Nâu đá’. And according to the preference of each people, coffee can be drunk in hot or cold – with or without ice.
‘Cà phê phin’ can be found everywhere in this amazing country: from the pavement stalls, food stalls to the luxurious restaurants. However, savoring coffee at the roadside or in the old coffee shops is a special feature of the Vietnamese people. Walking along the roads, you will certainly discover a lot of pictures of the guys sitting together, sipping a cup of coffee and reading a newspaper. Until now, some people in Vietnamese people, especially in Saigon, love to take a bike tour around the city early at the morning and have a cup of coffee after that.
• Vy Café, 277E Le Thanh Ton Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, HCMC
• Sai Gon Oi, 9 Thai Van Lung Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, HCMC
‘Cà phê máy’ – Machine coffee
This style of coffee was quite familiar in some countries around the world. Nowadays, it has gradually become more general with young people in Vietnam. Using this method just takes only a few minutes to get a full cup without having to wait like filtered coffee thanks to the compression force of the coffee grinder. But the process of finishing it requires more sophisticatedly. The baristas will whip the milk into foam and decorate some forms such as hearts, tulips or complicated swans on the surface. People enjoy machine coffee owing to the beauty, the sophistication and the sublimation of talented artists. Since coffee is a cultural feature and if you’re planning to visit this country, you should try to have a Vietnamese cup of coffee. It won’t be a problem when you ask your guide anywhere such as Ha Noi, Da Nang or Saigon tour – Vietnam to show you how to buy a “culturally tasty local coffee”
• Shin Coffee, 13 Nguyen Thiep Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, HCMC
• Vietnam Coffee Republic, 8a/7b2 Thai Van Lung Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, HCMC
The way of drinking Vietnamese coffee always has its own characteristics. They do not consider coffee as a fast drink as Americans. Coffee is a close friend whom they can enjoy all day. For us, coffee is the time to sip and think deeply: drinking, reading newspapers, chatting with friends and meditating on the life, the people …
The cup of coffee flavor gets the most attractive when having the combination of bitterness, sourness, and the fragrant smell of almond, the smell of soil. All are blended and create a distinctive flavor that is representative of each person’s personality and preference. Suppose you have an opportunity to visit Vietnam, let me take you around Saigon and Hanoi to see the diversity of Vietnamese coffee culture.
Coffee prepared in a filter is more delicious when it is served with condensed milk. In Hanoi, there are some famous coffee shops which serve coffee with eggs:
• Dinh Café: 13 Dinh Tien Hoang Street
• Giang Café: 109 Yen Thu Street or 39 Nguyen Huu Huan Street
• Old Town Café: 11 Hang Gai Street
A different picture of Saigon is Hanoi Capital. Saigon is young and dynamic. In contrast, Hanoi is more traditional and cultural. However, both places have unique food and drink, which any visitor should try. You may want to look for some signature food of Hanoi or famous Saigon’s street food. Find more information here.