7 Best cafés in Saigon - Discover Saigon’s coffee culture
April 3, 2017
Saigon’s coffee culture – A unique harmony of flavor, aroma, and atmosphere
Saigon is a metropolis where it seems like the future bursts its bank. The skyscrapers rising from the ground sometimes obliterate the neighborhood. But somewhere down the hectic streets, there are always the calm street vendors, peaceful alleys, and hidden quiet coffee shops. This adds up to the unique atmosphere that you can always feel when walking on the street – something both modern and traditional.
And it’s fair to say that Saigon coffee epitomizes the chill coming from this city. Over the past decades, Southern Vietnam has been on the list of the world’s finest coffee producers. The microclimate of the south creates a perfect condition for coffee plants to grow. And most importantly, the combination of earth, water, and air gives birth to the distinctive taste of the coffee.
Unlike Western coffee culture which favors the takeaway drinks, drinking a cup of coffee in Saigon should be a “sit down” experience. It takes some time to relish the taste and the smell and to immerse into the surrounding settings. The balanced combination of native coffee, condense milk, and other components instill into Saigon coffee an inimitable flavor.
The distinctiveness of Saigon coffee does not only come from the taste and the smell. Where you drink the coffee also influences the experience with it. Saigon coffee culture seems to be widely known for its concept of “street coffee” variations. In fact, there are much more places to enjoy a cup of coffee in this city. Coffee is everywhere in Saigon, from street pavement to fancy café. This diversity in coffee shops’ concept thus adds an edge to this famous Saigon drink.
7 Best cafés in Saigon – Some remarkable nominations to enjoy a cup of coffee
1. Vừng ơi, Mở ra
Address: 17 Ngô Thời Nhiệm, District 3
The name means “open, sesame“ – the charmed spell once upon a time were used to get into the treasure cave. It seems that the owner took this name because of the hidden location of the café. Normally guests have to get down an unmarked alley through a motor garage, pass a kitchen, and go up a squeaky staircase. But once you get inside the café, it will be a spacious yet cozy hideaway place for your relaxation. A cup of “bạc sỉu” while chatting with a friend will make your day.
The street outside this café is not salubrious, but the four flights of stairs heading up to this café lead you to the views of the financial district. Mockingbird Café, like its name, offers you a small birds-eye view of the city and a cozy nest for you to relax. The small and leafy balcony allows you to sit and drink while gazing on the bustle below. And the atmosphere is filled with a raffish and unkempt charm.
3. La Cafeteria De L’Usine
Address: 151 Đồng Khởi, District 1
L’Usine is somehow a modern hipster café. It exudes the fresh Vietnamese cuisine and dark velvety coffee. The owner of L’Usine also designs a clothing line to sell exclusively on the premises. The clothing is on the first floor, and the café is upstairs. It also has a back area with antique maps and furniture for sales. This café does not have any luxurious trait, but it is fancy in its own way.
4. The Fig Café Lounge
Address: 15 Nguyễn Thị Huỳnh, Phú Nhuận District
This café is a perfect harmony of Zen music, green and spacious setting, and good coffee. It does not locate in the central area of the city, it’s hard to find, but it’s worth your effort. It’s great to have a cup of coffee here when it’s raining. It’s relaxing to lay back on the chair under an umbrella, look out for the rain tapping on the elevated pool, and have some sip of brown coffee.
5. Villa Royale Antiques & Tea Room
Address: Level 1, 25 Hồ Tùng Mậu, District 1 | 3 Trần Ngọc Điền, District 2
The opulent Villa Royale is an ideal place for wandering aesthetes and collectors. This place is not only a fancy café with high-class baked pastries, cakes, and hot drinks. It is also a place for the guests to marvel at the dazzling spread of trunks, silverware, paintings and vintage clocks from all corners of the world.
6. The Observatory
Address: Lê Lai & Tôn Thất Tùng, District 4
The Observatory and Hanoi Social Hub is a match. These two cafés share many things in common. Besides serving a big menu for food and drink, it also hosts a steady stream of DJs, film nights, art exhibitions, and reading groups. The tour guide may not recommend this café as one of the best places to visit in Saigon. But it’s really worth your try.
7. Coffee on the flat ground – Cà phê bệt
Address: You see it everywhere
It is ideal to spend a few hours of a windy afternoon around the Notre Dame Cathedral in District 1. The street vendors set up the stalls selling coffee and snacks. People gather in groups or couples, leisurely sit on the cardboard seats to enjoy their coffee while chit chatting. If you want something “truly Saigon” , cà phê bệt is a must-try. There may be variations to other nominations for the best cafes in Saigon but cà phê bệt is surely always on the list.
Now you know some of the best cafes in Saigon, why not pick up one and try it to experience the authentic Saigon coffee culture!
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