If you’re a coffee fanatic and traveled to Hanoi in recent times, you’ve probably found the specialty coffee scene a little barren.
There are coffee shops everywhere you look.
But most of them are selling traditional Vietnamese filtered coffee which appears to have tin teacups and saucers on top of mugs.
They slowly drip coffee with the viscosity of mud. Usually, it’s so bitter that the coffee shop owners use sweetened milk to mask its intense flavor.
Although Vietnam is the second largest coffee producer in the world, specialty coffee isn’t as available as you would have expected.
However, the appreciation for craft coffee is growing and a scene is emerging in the heart of Hanoi.
Few shops now serve all your favorite pour over V6, Aeropress, and Siphon brew styles and that’s just the beginning.
Most of this interest comes from Vietnamese students who discovered the art of coffee brewing while studying abroad.
Escaping the heat and smokey season of Chiang Mai, Thailand for the months of April and May, Hanoi was the chosen destination to work from over that period.
This gave me the opportunity to get under the skin of the coffee culture of Vietnam to find what specialty coffee gems are emerging.
Below is my list of the best Specialty Coffee Shops I discovered.
KafeVille was the first specialty coffee house I found in Hanoi. Coincidentally, the Tay Ho Times featured it for the month of March.
Binh, the owner of KafeVille, is very passionate about producing quality coffee.
He pays particular attention to his serving technique.
What surprised me the most was the specialty coffee bean varieties he offered.
The first Pour Over coffee I drank was from the African nation of Burundi, it was the first time I’ve tried coffee from that country.
It was a unique experience as Burundi is not a well known coffee-growing region, although it’s their largest export.
However, the flavor and aroma of the pour over were outstanding
Equally as impressive is their Latte Barista, who is passionate about producing drinkable latte-art cups of coffee.
I spent most of the two months of my time in Hanoi working from here. Binh here is staff are friendly, and knowledgeable about specialty coffee.
KafeVille also sells roasted beans starting at 100 grams lots.
If you travel like me and can’t do without a specialty brew in the morning, you can purchase them.
They usually roast their beans every few days as during April/May/June as this time of year is humid in Hanoi. Moreover, Binh prefers to protect his beans from the mold.
2. D’Codes Coffee Lab & Campus Vietnam
When I first visited D’Codes, the cafe had only opened for three weeks. It was an exciting time for them.
My good friend Sam Choi from Chiang Mai partnered with Caden and branched out his passion for specialty coffee training to northern Vietnam.
He established Asia’s 4th Coffee Lab. You’ll find the lofty ceiling cafe located on the ground floor.
The training lab for sensory sessions and Q graders is on the first and second levels.
One of the Baristas working at D’Codes is Vietnamese 2016 runner-up for latte art.
He moved to Hanoi from Saigon to work at the D’Codes coffee lab & campus.
D’Codes is a little further out from the Old Quarter and a little hard to find. However, it was a worthwhile adventure. Oh and the coffee is off the hook!!
3. The Caffinet
The Caffinet was a great little find in the heart of the Old Quarter in Hanoi.
During my stay in Hanoi, it was the best of all of our cafes we visited.
Not only were the lovely staff at The Caffinet helpful and accommodating, but they were also passionate about their specialty coffee.
They use primarily source coffee beans from the local coffee growing region of Da Lat in the South of Vietnam in addition to other local regions close to Hanoi.
The cafe had an excellent atmosphere that made it easy for us to work from their upstairs location away from the hustle.
The Caffinet had a broad range of brewing toys and techniques including traditional Vietnamese brewing styles, popular pour overs and their own version of specialty egg coffee which I will talk about later in the article.
I highly recommend going to The Caffenit and checking it out.
4. GẤU Coffee & Bakery and GẤU Coffee Roasters
The first was considerably far from the old city. I never realized that there were two branches of Gau coffee.
I believed that the first was the only one that existed.
Upon discovering the second location in the old quarter of Hanoi, I quickly became acquainted with its young and passionate barista, Sang.
Sang was a very friendly guy who loved his craft.
He was accommodating enough to allow me to try many different types of coffee which he brewed using the Aeropress.
I had the pleasure of trying many Vietnamese specialty blends which did have some interesting characteristics.
One of the aspects of the coffee business is the friends that you make.
It was an absolute pleasure meeting Sang from Gau Coffee Roasters. He has great vision.
There is a space in the cafe that he’s going to use to supply specialty paste trees in addition to his specialty coffee.
I highly recommend heading to Specialty Coffee Roasters Cafe to say hi to Sang. Try the excellent coffee that he brews.
Do not get confused by Gau Coffee’s two locations.
Google will direct you to the cafe that is out of the old quarter so. Both locations have been marked on my Specialty Coffee Map.
I also recommend checking out the cafe location further out. However, if you have little time, I would suggest just visiting out the Cafe Roastery location in the old quarter.
5. Haka Coffee
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to visit Haka in Hanoi, although it was in the old city.
It was in the heart of a busy area, and it was a tiny hole in the wall.
On the day visited I was also looking for a cafe to work from and Haka too busy that particular day and didn’t cater for those who are digital nomads or those who work from cafes.
The cafe was also full of cigarette locals smoking inside which I don’t mind to a certain extent but the intent for the day was to work and I couldn’t work under those conditions.
Smoking is still part of Vietnamese culture and some cafes will still allow people to freely smoke.
Depending on the type of cafe it is, this can take away the sensory experience with specialty coffee.
Therefore Haka wasn’t the ideal place to have coffee and to work from for me at the time. That may be different for you however.
From the outside looking in, they did have Pour over kettles, but I didn’t have an opportunity to take a good look at their coffee bean menu.
I do intend on returning to Hanoi later this year and will update this section of the post when I purely go for coffee.
Other Coffee Roasters of Hanoi
KOK Coffee Roasting House
We heard on the Grapevine that there was a coffee roaster in Hanoi that didn’t have a cafe or shop front.
We decided to visit it. You’ll find KOK Coffee Roasting House is tucked away in the Tay Ho district of Hanoi, on the West Lake.
Although there were closed gates at KOK Roasters, Sang was nice enough to let us in and give us a private tour of his roasting facility.
He even brewed us one of his locally roasted Vietnamese beans.
His beans are available at here. He features many varieties from around Vietnam and the world.
Coffee Notes: The Traditional Coffee of Vietnam
Drinking coffee in Hanoi is an interesting cultural experience.
Coffee was introduced in Hanoi Vietnam with in the 1950s when they faced a milk shortage.
I didn’t go to any of the traditional egg coffee shops while I was there because I spent most of my time in specialty coffee shops in Hanoi.
However, I decided to try one of these coffees on the one of the days I was working from The Caffinet.
It consisted of espresso coffee at the bottom and a foam of meringue at the top, it’s hard to describe.
I must say it was delicious, not something I would have every day but still quite tasty.
My #1st #eggcoffee experience! Although this one is very different from traditional style being made with condensed milk. This one has an #espressoshot instead of #vietnamesedripcoffee tastes like #eggnogcoffee . . . #hanoi #vietnam #hanoicoffee #coffee #coffeegeek #coffeegeekio #coffeegeektv #coffeegeeks #coffeegasm #vietnamcoffee #coffeeholic #morningbrewings #dailyfix #bloomings
The last time I had the traditional Vietnamese style drip coffee was in 2012.
At that time I admit to liking it even though wasn’t as much into coffee as I am today.
Deciding to give the traditional drip coffee a try was a unique experience.
Although the coffee had sweetened condensed milk, I could not go past the overwhelming bitterness and thick mud-like consistency of traditional Vietnamese style coffee.
Unfortunately, I could not finish it!
My final thoughts of the Specialty coffee scene in Hanoi, though it in its infancy, there is increasing demand from the likes of more educated, hipster Vietnamese locals and those wanting to explore coffee.
It’s on the verge of booming and becoming an interesting place for specialty coffee in the future.
I look forward to returning to Hanoi to see how much the coffee scene has boomed upon my next visit.
Have you been to Hanoi lately or a local in search for specialty coffee shops?
If you have managed to find an amazing coffee shop in the middle of the bustling Metropolis of Hanoi, please share your findings Below in the comments.