A Mini-Guide to the Best Vietnamese Coffee in Hanoi

A Mini-Guide to the Best Vietnamese Coffee in Hanoi
Photo by Demi DeHerrera / Unsplash

Vietnam's buzzing capital is the perfect place to explore historic sites with a glass of ice-cold Ca Phe Sua Da. Or have a relaxing afternoon sitting on a balcony with a cup of mouthwatering egg coffee while people-watching.

During our 3-month visit to Vietnam, I had more coffee than I'd like to admit. And if you too are looking for the best coffee in Hanoi, I have a few suggestions below.

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Best Coffee in Hanoi - the Choices

 Vietnamese Coffee Shops in Hanoi
Ca Phe Nong on ice

On a quest to finding the best coffee in Hanoi, you’ll soon discover that there are more Vietnamese coffee choices in the city than you can drink in one day. Which is great news if you love coffee.

Vietnamese Black Coffee - Ca Phe Nong

For starters, there’s Ca Phe Nong, the simple black coffee that’s made in a traditional Vietnamese drip. It’s thick and strong. Much stronger than your average coffee. One cup in the morning will perk you up for the rest of the day.

Coffee with Condensed Milk - Ca Phe Sua Nong

Due to the lack of fresh milk in Vietnam back in the 1980s, both French and Vietnamese used condensed milk instead. And that’s how Ca Phe Sua Nong was born.

Dark roast coffee combined with sweet condensed milk is a match made in heaven and makes it a great choice for your late morning coffee fix. It can across as too sweet at first, but the more you drink the more you crave.

Iced Coffee - Ca Phe Sua Da

As far as the best coffee in Hanoi goes, the traditional Ca Phe Sua Da is one of the best choices. Combined with dark roast coffee poured over ice and sweetened with condensed milk, it’s the traditional and the most popular coffee choice among the locals.

This type of coffee is also especially popular in sizzling hot Ho Chi Minh City or places along the south coast like Hoi An.

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Egg Coffee - Ca Phe Trung

I wouldn’t say that the iconic Ca Phe Trung is the best coffee in Hanoi, but it’s undeniably the best choice if you have a sweet tooth. It's a sensational creation first invented in Cafe Giang.

The egg yolk whipped together with condensed milk makes the coffee extra rich and sweet. It’s like tiramisu in a cup.

Order hot or iced, but don’t leave Hanoi without trying it. You may not find it anywhere else in Vietnam, we warned you.

Coconut Iced Coffee - Bac Xiu

Bac Xiu coffee is the most exotic-sounding coffee and yes, it tastes as good as it sounds. Poured over frozen coconut milk and topped with coconut shavings, it’s the best coffee in Hanoi if you’re looking for something different.

Yoghurt Coffee

Talking about different coffee, the yoghurt coffee is a must-have in Hanoi. Mixed with strong Vietnamese coffee it’s more like a kick-ass smoothie. It can also be on a sour side which is a great alternative to all the sweet coffee options in Hanoi.

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Where to Find the Best Coffee in Hanoi

 Vietnamese coffee shops
Ca Phe Sua Nong 

Now that you know all about the Vietnamese coffee options, the next step is finding the best coffee in Hanoi. And that’s the best part of the coffee hunt in the city because the coffee shops here are the best.

To taste the best coffee in Hanoi, try these 6 Vietnamese Coffee Shops.

1. Cafe Lam - One of the Oldest Cafes in Hanoi

Often referred to as a historic monument, Cafe Lam is one of the oldest Vietnamese coffee shops in Hanoi. Delicious coffee aroma mixed with a slightly musty scent of the old building speaks old Hanoi here.

Sit inside to admire an impressive collection of modern Vietnamese art hanging on the walls. Or, for the ultimate experience, join the locals and sip your iced coffee outside.

Cafe Lam Address: 60 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

2. Cafe Giang - the Founder of Egg Coffee

Conveniently located next door to Cafe Lam, Cafe Giang is another Vietnamese coffee institution, forever buzzing with coffee lovers. To reach the the 'egg coffee lane', walk through a very narrow alleyway and order the legendary Ca Phe Trung first.

Since they were the first to invent the toothsome egg coffee, it would be rude to pass on some of the best coffee in Hanoi.

Cafe Giang Address: 39 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Lý Thái Tổ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

3. Coffee with a View - Cafe Pho Co

For beautiful views across the Hoan Kiem Lake, head to Cafe Pho Co. Buried at the back of a shop filled with silk and touristy t-shirts, it’s a hidden gem in Hanoi.

Walk across the shop through the narrow alley and you’ll reach the 'reception' area. Place your order here and head upstairs to find your perfect spot. Keep going up the spiral staircase to reach the lake viewing platform.

For double indulgence, alongside your coffee order, grab a slice of one of their delicious cakes.

Cafe Pho Co Address: 11 Hang Trong Ha Noi, 11 Hàng Gai, Hàng Trống, Hà Nội, Vietnam

4. Cafe Indigenous - The Hidden Gem in the French Quarter

In the French Quarter, next to the beautiful St Joseph Cathedral, you'll find Cafe Indigenous. It's so tiny it's easy to miss it so keep your eyes peeled.

It’s not the usual ancient coffeehouse but rather a modern coffee shop in Hanoi that also sells Oriberry coffee.

Oriberry is one of many social enterprises in Vietnam that helps fight poverty and empowers Vietnamese with transferable skills for a better future.

Another such organisation that empowers young women in Vietnam is the Reaching Out Tea House in Hoi An. The beautiful tearoom serves Chicory coffee, which isn’t a traditional Vietnamese coffee. Nonetheless, an interesting variation to try once you’ve tested all the best coffee in Hanoi.

Cafe Indigenous Address: 36 Ấu Triệu, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

5. The Nation's Favourite Cong Caphe

Loved by both locals and visitors Cong Caphe is one of those Vietnamese Coffee Shops that you will return to again and again.

Scattered across the whole country, this coffee shop has a very lively and friendly vibe, plus it’s open till late.

6. The Off the Radar Cafe Dinh

Another cafe in Hanoi that’s off the radar for most travellers is the Cafe Dinh. Frequented with both locals and visitors who manage to find it, the cafe has that rustic Old Hanoi vibe.

Here you can try all the best coffee in Hanoi, from Ca Phe Nong to egg and yoghurt coffee.

Cafe Dinh Address: 13 Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

The Most Expensive Vietnamese Coffee

 Vietnamese coffee shops. Weasel Coffee
Coffee display in Vietnam 

Just like Kopi Luwak in Indonesia, Vietnamese specialise in Weasel Coffee also known as Civet-cat coffee. The Vietnamese coffee beans sniffed out, eaten and digested by the Asian Civet makes, supposedly, the finest coffee in the world.

At specialised coffee shops around the world, this kind of coffee sells around $30 per cup making it the most expensive Vietnamese coffee in Hanoi (and Vietnam). So, the question is whether the Weasel coffee you see on the streets is a real deal or a tourist trap?

It's up to you whether you want to try the famous Weasel coffee in Vietnam, but we encourage you to do some research before you do.

The fellow travellers showed us some upsetting photos from a coffee plantation they visited in Dalat where the animals are kept in tight cages. Therefore, try choosing ethical coffee farms if visiting one is on your itinerary.

Vietnamese Coffee Culture in Hanoi

 Vietnamese coffee shops
Coffee scene in Hanoi

The robusta beans were first brought to Vietnam by the French in the mid-nineteenth century. But it wasn’t till 1986 during the Dai Moi, the economic renovation that Vietnamese took coffee growing and production to the next level. And becoming the largest robusta coffee producers in the world as a result.

The strength and bitterness that you feel in Vietnamese coffee come exactly from this type of coffee bean. Therefore the coffee here is much, much stronger than one brewed from arabica beans.

Hanoi is a busy place with thousands of bikes buzzing back and forth in an organised mess. But once you squat down on one of those tiny stools, then you can see and feel the chilled coffee vibe across the city.

As you spend more time in the capital, you’ll notice it more and more. The picture-perfect scene in Hanoi often involves the locals enjoying the best coffee in Hanoi, chatting away, smoking or browsing on their smartphones.

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What's Different About Vietnamese Coffee

 Vietnamese coffee shops. The best Vietnamese coffee in Hanoi
Cafe in Vietnam 

Firstly it’s much stronger and much thicker than your average American, French, or Italian coffee. Secondly, it’s different the way it’s prepared.

To make the strong Vietnamese coffee, the locals use a Vietnamese coffee filter called a Phin, which sits at the top of a cup. Clear glass is often used for visual effect.

The filter chamber is filled with coffee and a very thin filter press is used to weight the coffee grounds down. The cap is placed at the top of the filter which also has another useful purpose.

It takes a while for the Vietnamese coffee to drip through the filter, especially if it's made properly. The thick chocolatey drink wiggles it's way very slowly to the cup, be patient - it will be worth it.

When your coffee is ready, you place the filter onto the upturned lid so that the remaining moisture doesn't seep onto the table or cloth.

In some, more local Vietnamese coffee shops, you will be served a coffee that has been brewed for you already and you don't get to play around with the filter.

Making Vietnamese Coffee at Home

 Vietnamese Coffee Shops. Making Vietnamese Coffee at Home
Chicory coffee 

Brewing Vietnamese drip coffee at home is a great way to reminisce about the best coffee in Hanoi. All you need is a good Vietnamese coffee and a Phin, a Vietnamese coffee filter.

What is the best Vietnamese coffee brand?

If you are looking to buy Vietnamese coffee beans online, we recommend Vietnamese coffee brand Trung Nguen.

The S Blend, Gourmet Blend and Premium Blend are great to use.

Where to buy the coffee filter?

You can buy the Phin in Vietnamese coffee shops in touristy areas, or in the local markets/supermarkets.

The price varies from 10,000 VND for a tiny filter to 30,000 VND for a larger one. If you are already back home from travels, you can easily buy one online.

The Secret to Making a Silky Smooth Vietnamese Coffee

While exploring the coffee shops in Hanoi, we got to know one Vietnamese lady from one of the cafes.

As we chatted away over a cup of strong morning mud, she shared a secret of how she makes the perfect Vietnamese coffee.

Here goes, the Vietnamese coffee secret of the year.

When you add coffee grounds to the filter, don't rush pouring hot water over it. Instead, add a little bit of hot water to the lid and set the filter into it.

Let the coffee grounds soak up the hot steam and expand. Only then put the filter over your cup and pour hot water over the coffee.

Hacks for keeping your Vietnamese coffee hot

During springtime, the combination of time (up to 4 minutes for a perfect brew) the coffee needs to drip through the filter and lower temperatures, makes the coffee go cold quickly. Which is frustrating sometimes if you want a hot drink.

But, as we experienced first hand, there are a couple of hacks you can do to keep it warm.

You can use a dish of hot water to sit your coffee cup in to keep it warm. Or place a candle dish, with a burning candle inside, underneath the coffee cup. Practical and pretty.