When in Hanoi, drink strange coffee.

Did you know? Vietnam is the world’s second largest coffee producing nation in the world. In 2015 alone, the nation produced a total of 1,650,000,000kg coffee! Naturally, creativity takes over and so follows a range of interesting coffee concoction unique to Vietnam — and more so, in its capital city Hanoi.

Having visited Hanoi on multiple occasions, I have the luxury of time to explore the city’s most talked about cafes and taste their coffees. These are my favourites.

Vietnamese Egg Coffee: Cà Phê Trứng

Cafe Pho Co
11 Hang Gai, Hang Bo, Hoan Kiem

I first discovered egg coffee in 2011, on my solo trip to Hanoi. Then, a friend has scrawled a map on a piece of ragged paper with directions to Cafe Pho Co. I must have walked past the inconspicuous entrance more than three times. There was no sign and a lady was selling knick-knacks in a hole-in-the-wall shop. Walking past the tiny shop brings you through a passageway that opens up into an ancient paradigm. There was where I had my first egg coffee, a mug of creamy warm coffee on a rooftop balcony overlooking the Hoan Kiem Lake. The thickness of the coffee is just nice that taste quite like Christmas eggnog.

Cafe Giang
39 Nguyen Huu Huan Street

My return to Hanoi with the family brought us to Cafe Giang. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I had forgotten the name of Cafe Pho Co and Google directed us here instead. The location is equally mysterious and we were walking in circles under the sweltering sun. Lost once again. We took the spiral stairs up to the second level where me and my sister (we visited on separate occasions) looked around perplexed at the missing rooftop. Not till we ordered our egg coffees did we realise that this is a different cafe! The thickness of coffee is that of a melted marshmallow, fluffy and more for “eating” than drinking. Pretty fun a drink to try!

Icy Coconut Coffee: Bac Xiu

With over 14 outlets in Hanoi and plenty more sprinkled around Vietnam, Cong Caphe is my brother’s favourite. I frowned upon the kitsch Communist-style interior design of the cafe, thinking it must be another concept store. Ascending level two of the cafe made me ashamed of my quick-to-judge self. It was beautiful! The 5pm magic light peeks through tall windows, creating light and shadow on comfy sofa seats and dark oak brown furniture. Our family took a booth seating and got even more blown away by the refreshing combination of icy blended coconut juice and rich coffee. Their rendition of coffee has redefined the meaning of “wake me up”! This cafe on Church Street has my favourite ambience.

Cong Caphe
27 Church Street, Hoan Kiem

Yoghurt Coffee: Ca Phe Sua Chua

Each trip to Hanoi I would be on an intense lookout for my favourite yoghurt coffee — intense unstable emotions until said coffee is consumed. While the above two variations are fun to drink, I’d say that the yoghurt coffee is my staple. I begin my day with one, then have fancier coffees later in the day. When in Vietnam, drink more than one cup a day! Every cafe does a good job with their Ca Phe Sua Chua — I suppose it’s a little like Kopi C Siew Dai in Singapore — you can’t and shouldn’t go wrong with your signatures. Then again, I could be lucky! My advice is to go for street stall coffees, if you’re not one with a weak tummy or paranoid about hygiene. These have the best, richest coffee flavours.

Source for statistics: http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/top-coffee-producing-countries.html

Anna lives to explore. She loves digging toes into warm sand, diving, hugging trees, eating with locals, yoga and meditation. She enjoys stuffing her face with good food and prancing through back alleys of urban spaces. Some say Anna lives carelessly, she says "live wild, live carefree."