“Go for a coffee tonight ?”. It’s a common word of a saigonese when someone wants to ask their friends out though they are not actually going for a cup of coffee. This shows that coffee culture has deeply influenced Saigonese life.
Coffee has been a part of Saigonese culture for almost one hundred years since it first came to Vietnam from French back to the second half of XIX century. Its strong and unique taste temp every person from every walk of life and soon became the number one beverage in Vietnam.
Coffee culture is shown in many aspects in daily life here in Saigon. Typically the image people from every walk of life sitting on any sidewalk to enjoy a glass of black ice coffee with their daily newspaper in the morning. In Saigon, there are thousands coffee shops with various types to serve different kinds of customer. Each coffee shop has its own unique selling point, it can be the fancy yet classy L’Usine right in the heart of district 1 or it can be the insanely simply coffee stall at the crossroad of Hai Ba Trung street and Vo Thi Sau street. In this city, it is easy to see a young men formal suit in the expensive Trung Nguyen store to complete his job application form, in another street corner, a middle-aged man in short and t-shirt sitting in the pavement with a plastic glass of coffee to discuss real estate market with his pals. Coffee has become a ritual, more of morning ritual of most Saigonese.
Saigonese have created their unique recipe for this strong-taste beverage. Also, they enjoy coffee in a different way than Western espresso shot. A holly shot of espresso with a touch of Irish whisky may be considered strong to Wester coffee-lovers. However, in the far-East of Asia, there is a stronger coffee appetite. Vietnamese coffee is purely coffee essence. A set of simple tools are required to make this incredible drink: a coffee net, a coffee-pot and a cup of boiled water to encapsulate the natural extract of coffee beans. There are 2 popular servings for Vietnamese coffee: “cà phê đen đá” and “cà phê sữa đá”. “Cà phê đen đá” is basically black iced coffee with a teaspoon of sugar in ice. “Cà phê sữa đá” is “cà phê đen đá” with a sweet touch of the amazing sweet condensed milk.
Unlike the regular coffee morning routine in the West, Saigonese drink coffee any time they want. Coffee is not only a beverage, it is a natural and friendly way to start a conversation, an easy opening of any business talk, a romantic start of any relationship, or simply a relaxing Saturday reading date. That is how irreplaceable coffee is in Saigonese life.
Though “cà phê sữa đá” and “cà phê đen đá” are the two most common coffee orders in town, other kinds of coffee serving are welcomed by all walks of life. Saigon is such an open-minded city about cuisine, it never stops growing in diversity.
Some cool coffee shops in Saigon that tourists can enjoy coffee during their stay here:
– L’usine Café, 1st foor, 151 Đồng Khởi, district 1.
– Café Le Saigonnais, 9 Thái Văn Lung, district 1.
– The Home – Café and folk drinks, 23 Nguyễn An Ninh, Bình Thạnh district.
– Cafe “Bệt”, Han Thuyen park, Le Duan street, DaKao ward, district 1.