Cafe Society in Vietnam

Coffee Shop
One of Vietnam's own home-grown coffee shops.

Long before that big American chain put a coffee shop on every corner around the world, coffee was king of the street in Vietnam. Where-ever you go in the country, you'll find coffee shops, cafés and even street carts selling the uniquely Vietnamese style of coffee. No matter what time of day it is, you'll also find people sitting around these shops, relaxing or even doing business in them.

Vietnamese coffee is strong, and often thick with condensed milk added. Different roasters have their own secrets to blending, roasting and added flavorings. The most favored variations often have an aroma of chocolate as well, even though there's no chocolate in the blend.

Coffee Bean Stall
Small shop selling coffee beans in Ho Chi Minh City

Coffee is traditionally served in a rather unique way in Vietnam as well. Coffee is brewed using a small drip filter that sits on top of the coffee cup. The coffee will usually be bought to your table with the filter still on top. It's part of the café "culture" that you will need to sit and wait for perhaps several minutes for the coffee to slowly drip into the cup. Even if you order an iced coffee, it may still be bought to your table as a hot drink with a glass of ice for you to pour the coffee into once it's ready.

On menus, coffee is written in Vietnamese as cà phê. Hot black coffee is c 224; phê den nóng while hot coffee with milk is cà phê sua nóng in the south or nâu nóng in the north. Iced black coffee is cà phê dá and iced coffee with milk is nâu dá in the north or cà phê sua dá in the south.

Western chains have not opened in Vietnam as yet, although there's rumors that the big green machine is coming soon. Some local cafés serve western style cappuccinos and lattes. There's also a locally owned nationwide chain of coffee shops called Highlands Coffee, which has branches in all major cities.