Vietnam

A Coffee Lover’s Guide to Hanoi

THE BEST COFFEE IN HANOI

Vietnam is a coffee mania. It’s the second largest coffee producing country in the world, so you know they mean business when it comes to brew.

With nearly two weeks in Hanoi, I was excited to get stuck in and explore some of the city’s best coffee shops.

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There are plenty more I didn’t make it – in part, because of time, but also because I loved some I discovered so much, I returned there several times.

If you’re planning a stop in Hanoi, you’ll be happy to hear all of these recommendations (sans two) are in/very near the Old Quarter. Chances are if you’re visiting for holiday, you’ll be staying in this area, which is a cinch to get around by walking or taking Grab cars/bikes.

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Saying that Vietnam is a country that runs on coffee would be an understatement. Coffee is life in Vietnam.

Back in the day, French colonists introduced coffee to the country. But, Vietnamese made it their own by creating drinks with condensed milk, eggs, yogurt and coconut.

I know what you may be thinking at this point- egg?! Hear me out, the egg coffee I had in Vietnam was one of my favourite coffee drinks of all time. Recently, a friend let me know a Vietnamese cafe has opened in New York City that serves the drink, and now, I can’t wait to visit and compare.

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Intrigued and ready to try the best coffee in Hanoi?

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The best coffee in Hanoi: 6 can’t miss cafes

Giang Cafe: First things first, egg coffee.

You must try egg coffee in Hanoi, it’s the best place in Vietnam to do so. Sure, you can find it in the south, but it’s just not as good (save one place I found in Sai Gon where the owners were from the north).

If you’re still not sold on egg coffee, think coffee with sugar, sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks whisked in. Oddly enough, the egg yolks lend a sweet, creamy taste. The closest thing I can compare it to in taste would be tiramisu.

How did egg coffee come to be?

In the 1940s, when milk was scarce, the Vietnamese whipped egg yolks and added it to their espresso as a replacement.

Why Giang?

Simple, it’s run by the son of the man who brought egg coffee to Hanoi. You’ll see many other tourists here, but no one lingers too long, so it rarely feels overly congested.

Here, I tried both the hot egg coffee and iced egg coffee. And, while the hot egg coffee is the classic version, I really enjoyed the iced variety.

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Cafe Dinh: More egg coffee.

Run by the daughter of the man who brought egg coffee to Hanoi, this place has an entirely different vibe to it than Giang.

Tucked away on a busy street, you really have to be looking for it to find it. There’s not even a sign outside- just a small poster inside the hallway of the building that says, ‘Cafe Dinh, second floor’.

Once you spot it, you enter, and walk down a back hallway, then up a set of concrete steps. Nothing about your journey upstairs says, ‘open to visitors’. It feels deserted, but in a good undiscovered kind of way.

In fact, until recently, Cafe Dinh was primarily locals only.  Then food companies started including it on their coffee shop tours, and the world of Instagram got to it.

Even still, it’s much quieter than Giang and a good mix of locals and tourists.

My favourite part about this cafe is how low key it felt- it’s meant to resemble someone’s living room, which cues the feeling of a casual catch-up with friends.

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Cộng Càphê: No list of coffee shops in Hanoi, or elsewhere in Vietnam is complete without mention of Cong. Touted as the Starbucks of Vietnam, this communist themed cafe branch is everywhere.

It’s hugely popular and for good reason.
The coconut coffee here is without question one of the best coffee drinks I’ve ever had- no, scratch that.
One of the best drinks I’ve ever had.
Full stop.

It’s sweet, but strong from the espresso. The ultimate way to cool down on a hot, humid day in Vietnam.

There are several Cong locations across Hanoi, but I enjoyed the one on Mã Mây because it was huge, had several stories, including an outside terrace, and strong WiFi and air-con.

I wouldn’t be lying if I said I drank a coconut coffee from Cong almost every day I was in Vietnam.

That good.

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The Note Cafe: Known to visitors as, ‘The Note’, this colourful cafe is an Instagram favourite because, you guessed it, it’s covered from head to toe in post-it notes.

Its location, with sweeping views of the lake in Old Town, also means it’s a relaxing place to sit down and recover from all that wandering you’re doing.

Here, I’d try any of Vietnam’s classic drinks, or as I did, take a break from coffee and sip a Soursop smoothie (fruit native to SE Asia).

Before you go, be sure to leave a note of your own. My favourite ones were well wishes and words of positive encouragement for those to come.

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Hanoi Social Club: Loves me a quirky cafe with a great brunch.

Come here early if you don’t want to wait for a table. I think I rocked up around 10 am and got one of the last remaining ones before the brunch rush really kicked in.

Here, you’ll find fresh smoothie bowls, savoury avocado toast and a whole menu of drinks, including one of the creamiest egg coffees I tried in Vietnam.

The egg coffee here takes 20 minutes to make, so don’t order it if you’re in a rush. But like the saying goes, good things come to those who wait.

When the drink finally arrived, the layer of egg foam was so thick, I knew it was going to be delectable.

And, of course, I was right.

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Railway Cafe: No visit to Hanoi is complete without a stop at the city’s train street. A narrow street with shops on both sides and tracks in the middle. Several times daily, shopkeepers rush to pack up their tables, chairs and displays in anticipation of the train that roars through.

While you wait for the train to come through, pull up a low stool at this cafe and sip an iced coconut coffee.

A refreshing drink and a brillant, interesting part of Hanoi’s history? Yes, please.

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Maison de Tet Decor: Outside of the Old Quarter, you’ll find this breezy cafe in a French colonial building near the French Quarter.

Easy enough to get to with Grab, visiting is worth the effort for this cafe’s garden seating and balcony overlooking one of Hanoi’s lakes.

It’s a calm reprieve from the chaos that is the Old Quarter.

The prices are a bit higher than you’ll find elsewhere, but the food is delicious and the cold brew is one of the best cups I’ve ever had.

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Quay Giai Khat: Modeled after the old wartime cafes, this cafe is a throwback to times past.

It’s outside the Old Quarter, but easy enough to reach via Grab. A great place to come for a cool drink or to try some of Vietnam’s best northern dishes.

And, while the cafe used to operate on ration coupons (which could be bought before sitting down), nowadays, they’re fine to accept cash.

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Bonus Recommendation: While not a modern or ‘trendy’ cafe like some of the above recommendations, Hanoi’s coffee street is worth a stroll down even if you aren’t a big brew fan.

Yes, you read that right- an entire street devoted to coffee.

The name of the street is Nguyen Huu Huan. You won’t find cool cafes here, instead, you can see how locals do coffee- perched on low to the ground stools sipping caphe sua.

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A few other cafes I wish I had the time to check out, and will be at the top of my list for my next visit to Hanoi: Tranquil Books and Coffee, Bluebird’s Nest, Loading…, The Kafe, and Tâng Trêt Cosmo Café.

Have you ever been to Hanoi? Would you try any of Vietnam’s speciality coffees? What places would you add to this list of the best coffee in Hanoi? 

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