Hanoi's Coffee Habit


Hanoi is the center of café culture in Vietnam. Cà phê đá (literally, “iced coffee”) and cà phê sữa đá (iced coffee with condensed milk) have kept the city awake and the economy at boom. In the 19th century, a French Catholic priest planted a coffee tree. Now, the central highlands are lush with Arabica and Robusta. The lower temperatures allow the beans to grow slower and become denser with flavor—giving Vietnamese coffee its distinct kick. Settle into the city’s favorite coffee shops; we’ve compiled a few of the best so all you have to do is relax and relish a little taste of local life!

Updated a year ago

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Trung Nguyên Legend Café (Le Hong Phong)

Hanoi, Vietnam • Recommendation • a year ago

Ease into native café culture at one of Trung Nguyên’s outposts. They’ve been described as the Starbucks of Vietnam with convenient locations, offering java-deprived souls some respite. Order the Legend Coffee, the brand’s own faux civet coffee. It is brewed the traditional way: a small black mug arrives at the table with a coffee press called the “phin” sitting on top. The process is an art form in itself that forces you to sit down and watch the city around you while the filter drains slowly into your cup.

27-29 Lê Hồng Phong, Điện Bàn, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam

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Café Thọ

Hanoi, Vietnam • Recommendation • a year ago

At some point, coffee transitioned from an export commodity and a foreigner’s indulgence to include the everyman’s daily habit. That’s why small places like Café Thọ have been able to thrive on low prices, kicking cuppas, and a genial atmosphere. Patrons come in droves and the joint remains a rite of passage on Triệu Việt Vương, the city’s main coffee street). Squat on one of the low plastic stools that dot the sidewalks. A morning pick-me-up is always best enjoyed al fresco, watching regulars pass hours over their coffee, cigarettes, and hot gossip.


117 Triệu Việt Vương, Bùi Thị Xuân, Hai Bà Trưng, Hà Nội, Vietnam

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Giảng Cafe (Nguyễn Hữu Huân)

Hanoi, Vietnam • Recommendation • a year ago

Mr. Nguyen Giang, founder of this eponymous café, wanted to bring cappuccinos to locals but encountered one problem: fresh milk was scarce in the late 1940s. In a jiffy, he whipped egg yolks as a substitute and the rest is history! Egg coffee (cà phê trứng) has become a popular drink around town but there’s nothing quite like the original; Mr. Giang really got a lock on the perfect egg to coffee ratio. Savor the liquid tiramisu-like concoction as the creamy froth wonderfully offsets the bite of Robusta. Look out for the narrow alley under a small sign on Nguyễn Hữu Huân Street to come across the shop entrance.


39 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

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Café Dinh

Hanoi, Vietnam • Recommendation • a year ago

Claim the small terrace at Café Dinh and enjoy a yogurt coffee to a view of the street and Hoàn Kiếm Lake. Every glass is filled almost to the brim with the tangy curd, then topped with a thin layer of Vietnamese-style coffee. A little worn down, the café is hidden in an unsuspecting shophouse nestled between two bigger buildings. Café Dinh started as just one room by Ms. Bich (the daughter of Mr. Giang of Café Giang!); that’s why it feels quite like a lived-in apartment. Ms. Bich passed away in 2017, but her black-and-white portrait continues to greet her welcomed house guests!

13 Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

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Cong Caphe (Hang Dieu)

Hanoi, Vietnam • Recommendation • a year ago

Add a twist of coconut in your cuppa at Cong Caphe! Their signature Coconut Milk Coffee (ice blended or piping hot) consists of the standard cà phê sữa đá, but with the special addition of coconut cream! For the rest of the menu, you’re spoilt for choice with options like condensed milk, coconut milk, or fresh milk to mix into a range of indigenous black beans (plus a medley of ice-blended drinks)! Cong Caphe’s several stories are replete with cushioned seats lined in local textiles and worn out wooden tables. There’s an overall folksy vibe that calls you to plop back and while away the hours with your friends (they’re open ‘til late anyway)!


54 Hàng Điếu, Cửa Đông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

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Café Lâm

Hanoi, Vietnam • Recommendation • a year ago

Established in 1956, Café Lâm is one of the oldest cafés in the capital! It started as a humble sidewalk stall before setting its roots in a small one-room spot on busy Nguyễn Hữu Huân. Artists were permanent fixtures in the place because Mr. Nguyen Lam, the owner, was a generous man who often accepted art for a few drinks. Now, Mr. Lam’s collection is priceless. Indulge in your cà phê sữa đá amidst works by the cornerstone artists of Vietnamese art: Bùi Xuân Phái, Nguyen Sang, and Nguyen Tu Nghiem Their abstracted forms and vibrant scenes backdrop Café Lâm in a way that most museums can only envy!


60 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

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Cafe Phố Cổ

Hanoi, Vietnam • Recommendation • a year ago

Cafe Phố Cổ is hidden away in the Old Quarter, behind a shop that sells silk products and souvenir t-shirts. Find your way to the two-story cafe; place your order downstairs before you make your way up narrow staircases to the rooftop terrace. Top off with a decadent cà phê trứng and you’re set ‘til the dazzling sunset, foregrounded by Hoan Kiem Lake! Cafe Phố Cổ’s egg foam is laid on in a layer double as thick as the coffee; it begs to go with a slice of their freshly baked cake.

11 Hàng Gai, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

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Café Nhan (Hang Hanh)

Hanoi, Vietnam • Recommendation • a year ago

In the past, coffee was not the only thing brewing at Café Nhân. It opened in 1946 (on the brink of the First Indochina War) by three soldiers—one of whom was named Nhan. It became a haunt for revolutionary troops of the time who sought to exchange information. Nowadays, the action stays in your cup of joe! Expect an intense kick of caffeine; Mr. Nhan has a special way of roasting and grinding his own coffee and the cà phê is a lot stronger than others around.

39D Hàng Hành, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi, Vietnam

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