ever Since Starbucks opened its first Vietnam outlet in Ho Chi Minh City last month, Hanoians have been wondering when the ca phe sua da (iced coffee with condensed milk) will go toe-to-toe with the mocha frappuccino in their city. Steadfast espresso drinkers fear not, there is already an array of excellent venues in the capital of asia’s largest coffee-producing country.
By Connla Stokes
“We stock high-quality, locally grown roasted coffee and serve all styles of espresso, keeping our little San Remo pumping along,” says Jeremy Wellard, the proprietor of Commune, Hanoi’s first creative hub/bar/café. The highlight of the building—located on the less gentrified side of West Lake—is the rooftop, from where you can enjoy panoramic views while savoring your caffeine fix. The “recovery breakfasts” also come highly recommended.
20A Duong Ven Ho, Tay Ho District, 84-4/6684-7903
This acclaimed cooking school near Hanoi’s picturesque Truc Bach Lake is also home to a wonderfully quiet, leafy courtyard, which also leads to the much-loved Bookworm store. Grab a paperback and an espresso-based beverage of your choice (made with Punto Italia’s 100 percent Arabica Superiore blend,) and while away the day. The coffee here is consistently excellent, something co-owner Tracey Lister puts down to “staff training, and still more staff training.”
44 Chau Long St., Ba Dinh District, Hanoi; 84-4/3715-0088
Hanoi Social Club
“We’ve bent over backwards to make sure our coffee is top notch,” says John Kris, the owner of Hanoi Social Club, a hip but homely café and events space housed in an old villa on an unassuming side-street of central Hanoi. The coffee is made either with the cherished DiBella bean or a Son La–region, single-origin Arabica. The San Remo espresso machine is fully manual, which means the barista can make adjustments to suit the ever-fluctuating heat and humidity levels of Hanoi.
6 Ngo Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem District, 84-4/3938-2117
Oriberry was established by a NGO to provide fair-trade opportunities for farmers in remote areas of Vietnam. The coffee beans are hand-picked before being roasted at the point of origin and delivered to the store. The bestselling product is the Khe Sanh Arabica Black Label.
25 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho District; 84-4/6275-8669
Puku Café & Bar
According to Hanoi expat folklore, the original Kiwi owners of Puku got so fed up of drinking substandard espresso back in 2001 that they shipped their own espresso machine up from the Southern hemisphere and developed a café around it. Now in its second incarnation, Puku is more popular than ever. The coffee—80 percent sweet premium Arabica beans and 20 percent Robusta—is best-enjoyed on the courtyard.
16 Tong Duy Tan; 84-4/3938-1745