Did you know Vietnam is the second largest exporter of coffee in the world? However, to find the best Vietnamese coffee, you will need to head to Hanoi, which is a caffeine haven. Not only will this guide share the best cafes in Hanoi, but also the best Vietnamese coffee, so you know what to order once you find these hidden gems.
We’ll be honest, with so many coffee shops to choose from and all claiming to be the crème de la creme, we needed help finding the best coffee in Hanoi. Cue, Mai from Backstreet Academy who is a self-proclaimed coffee lover and absolute expert on all things coffee.
As we were limited on time in Hanoi, we didn’t have time to sample the hundreds of coffee shops to find the best, so having Mai as a guide was a huge help. Similar in the way Workaway connects locals with travellers, Backstreet Academy offers a more authentic experience away from the tourist trap tours. They operate all over South East Asia, from food tours to jewellery making, providing a steady income for local communities but also genuine experiences that will leave you educated yet excited about the country you are visiting.
Although you may think a quick google can provide enough info on the best coffee in Hanoi, it was such a better experience to have a local guide, and we learned far more than we ever would have on our own. The coffee lover’s tour was a definite highlight from our time in Hanoi and between the caffeine buzz we managed to take a few notes so you can also find the best cafes in Hanoi.
THE BEST VIETNAMESE COFFEE
Before we get into where to find the best coffee in Hanoi, you’ll need to know what to order. Forget caramel lattes and Americanos; the best Vietnamese coffee includes ingredients such as coconut, yoghurt, egg and even poop. Yes, poop. We tried (nearly) them all and gave our opinions on each one below.
One thing we will warn, whether you’re after the best egg coffee in Hanoi or a simple Ca phe den Vietnamese coffee is made opposite to the Western style so is SUPER strong. In the West, we drink 80% Arabica with 20% Robusta for a smoother taste. Hanoi coffee and Vietnamese coffee, in general, is the opposite – with 20% Arabica and 80% Robusta providing more spring in your step/no sleep for three days. Due to this, Vietnam is now the largest producer of Robusta coffee and the second largest producer of coffee worldwide.
Drip Coffee (Cà Phê Sữa Nóng/Cà Phê Sữa Đá
To us, this is the best Vietnamese coffee because it’s a no-frills, straight-forward caffeine kick. We both drink black coffee normally and are not fans of sweet coffee, so this is our cup of tea (so to speak.)
Ca phe den is the traditional Vietnamese drip coffee introduced by the French. Ca phe den is when drip coffee is served black and Ca phe sua is when condensed milk is added. If you like super sweet, Bac Xiu is mainly condensed milk with a little coffee. Both can be served hot or over ice which you will embrace with open arms in the Hanoi humidity. Using condensed milk in Vietnamese coffee was also introduced by the French when dairy farming was still in infancy and fresh milk in short supply.
The drip coffee process involves a metal filter known as a Phin, placed on top of a cup or glass with coarse ground coffee and hot water added gently at intervals. Not ideal for espresso lovers who like to down coffee at speed as Vietnamese drip coffee (if done well) can take up to 20 minutes for one cup to brew. Imagine waiting 20 minutes for your cup in the morning – how can anyone function?
Egg Coffee (Cà Phê Trứng)
When searching for the best coffee in Hanoi, you cannot leave without trying Egg coffee, the city’s speciality. We’ll admit, like most, we did shudder in disgust at the thought of a raw egg coffee combo but my goodness, it is delicious. We will share where to find the best egg coffee in Hanoi because although most places sell it, only some places do it exceptionally well.
When done right, egg coffee tastes like tiramisu in a cup – thick, creamy and sweet. We felt it was more of a meal than a drink and is even served with a spoon to scoop it rather than drink if you prefer.
Traditionally, there are three layers: condensed milk on the bottom, followed by Vietnamese coffee and topped with whipped egg. It’s best to scoop from the bottom with a spoon to taste a little of each layer. Egg coffee is the most famous of all Hanoi Coffee for its calorific yet flavourful charm; one cup is enough to fill you up for the day.
Yoghurt Coffee (Sua Chua Ca Phe)
Again, introduced to Vietnam by the French, yoghurt coffee is rich and creamy, albeit an odd combination. Of all the Hanoi coffee we sampled, yoghurt coffee was surprisingly my favourite because it was cold and refreshing but not sweet.
Instead, it was more of a sour, tangy taste which contrasted well with the strong Vietnamese coffee. Yoghurt coffee is sometimes even topped with mango or fermented rice; we share below the best cafes in Hanoi to sample this dairy delight and urge you to sample it.
Coconut coffee is a firm favourite with locals and tourists alike, and according to Daz, it is the best Vietnamese coffee. After a serving of this, you’ll be awake for a week due to the caffeine and sugar overload.
Book your dentist appointment in advance as you sip on sweet frozen coconut milk mixed with strong black coffee and shaved coconut ice. Despite others enjoying it by the gallon, for me, two spoonfuls were enough. It’s definitely the best Vietnamese coffee for those with a sweet tooth.
Weasel Poop Coffee
Being the most expensive in the world, surely Weasel Poop coffee is the best Vietnamese coffee? We cannot answer that because we didn’t try it and we strongly advise you to be a responsible traveller and do your research before sampling. If the name doesn’t put you off, likely the controversial farming process will.
Traditionally, weasel poop coffee was created by accident. Weasels were sabotaging coffee plantations so to salvage the beans; farmers made coffee from the weasel droppings. As weasels always sought the most delicious, perfectly ripe berries, this resulted in the best coffee beans being found in the droppings. Amazed by aromatic taste, they began selling this unexpected concoction.
However, as farmland transformed into cities, the natural homes of the weasels were destroyed, therefore naturally, weasels no longer visited farms and farmers were forced to breed and cage weasels in order to produce the coffee. This does mean there is an element of force-feeding involved. No longer do weasels roam free seeking out the perfect, juiciest berries. Instead, the beans provided by the farmer, to be eaten by caged weasels.
As it’s known as the most expensive coffee in the world (anywhere up to $700 a kg), it is unlikely to be the real deal if you’re offered a free sample or find a cheap version. Please consider the treatment of the animals before making this novelty purchase.
THE BEST CAFES IN HANOI
Now you know what the best coffee in Hanoi is, you’ll need to know where to find it. Thanks to our Coffee Lovers Tour with Backstreet Academy we were taken to these hidden gems, which we would never have found on our own as they’re very much off the tourist track.
Not only are they considered the best coffee shops in Hanoi among locals, but they also offered some of the best coffee we have ever tasted.
Loading T: For the Best Coconut Coffee in Hanoi
Address: 8 Chân Cầm, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội (take the stairs, head left)
One of the best cafes in Hanoi for incredible coffee, friendly owners and stunning surroundings. The fascinating history of Loading T is as memorable as the coffee. Located in the picturesque French quarter, this charming building was once owned by a successful Vietnamese lawyer during Colonial times.
However, after the communist era, the building was returned to the state and divided between 16 families. Each segment of the home has been handed down over generations, with many of the families still residing in the building. Loading T was originally transformed from an apartment into a café by a couple, Son and Trang who inherited this one-room-wonder from Son’s aunt.
Entering Loading T is like entering a treasure trove of architecture, antiques and of course, amazing coffee. Here we sampled three coffees. First up was cinnamon coffee, which is blended by the owner and was insanely good. It was the perfect start to our tour to ease us in gently as it was not too different from a typical espresso – brewed barista style and served in a small espresso cup. The hint of cinnamon gave us Christmassy vibes as well as a good kickstart to the day.
Next up was our first time sampling coconut coffee, and our faces instantly lit up. Firstly, because the coconut coffee was served with a reusable straw (instant bonus points) and secondly because it tasted nothing as we imagined. It was more like a dessert without that sickly Starbucks vibes not to mention refreshingly cold. We’d possibly peaked too early as this was Darren’s favourite coffee of the day, and it was only 8:30 am.
Before we left Loading T, it was time to try the most famous Hanoi coffee – Egg. We’ll admit we were nervous, but after a quick smell and stir, we were so excited to sample this caffeine-laced gloop of joy. Although not the original recipe, it is a strong rival for the best egg coffee in Hanoi thanks to the three layers of condensed milk, coffee and egg that create a mouth-watering masterpiece. We were also given kaffir water on the side, which the owner explained helps digest the fat in the coffee.
Cafe Dinh – For the Best Egg Coffee in Hanoi
Address: 13 Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội
Although three coffees before 9 am is our kind of morning, we didn’t stop there. It was time for coffee number 4 at Café Dinh, which serves the best egg coffee in Hanoi, according to Mai. Thankfully we had her as a guide as finding Café Dinh is no easy task, although located along Đinh Tiên Hoàng and nearby Hoan Kiem Lake it’s so easy to miss as there’s only one simple sign and it looks like a shop from the front.
Like all the best coffee shops in Hanoi, Café Dinh has a fascinating history and was established by the inventor of egg coffee’s daughter. Tri Hoa Nguyen had two children – a son and daughter who interestingly, both have coffee shops in Hanoi serving up their famous family recipe for egg coffee.
The son’s café is the tourist favourite as any searches for the best egg coffee in Hanoi will probably result in his shop – Giảng Café. Giảng Café was established by Tri’s father, Nguyen Giang, so it is the original egg coffee shop. Even our hostel owner recommended Giảng Café, but thanks to Mai were taken to the daughter’s shop, which is where the locals go. This offered a more authentic, peaceful experience a little off the beaten track which we much prefer.
Unassuming from the outside, you’d never know this café existed, however after a short climb up some very narrow, dark stairs you are met with tables a peaceful room filled with locals relaxing with their favourite brew.
We had a giggle at 6ft 4 Daz squeezing into the tiny seat and table before Mai presented us with the best egg coffee in Hanoi. She was not wrong. It tasted as delightful as it looked, and although we were already so full from our previous coffees, we could not resist spooning in more of its gooey goodness. We also loved the fact we were the only tourists there in comparison to Café Giang which is known for being a tourist hot spot.
Cafe Duy Trí: For the Best Vietnamese Coffee in Hanoi
Address: 43A Phố Yên Phụ, Yên Phụ, Tây Hồ, Hà Nội
We ended our tour of the best coffee shops in Hanoi with the oldest. Operating since 1936, Café Duy Tri has been serving up it’s patented coffee for over 75 years. Needless to say, they’ve perfected the blend and roast, and we were blown away by the two different coffees we devoured.
First up was the yoghurt coffee, which is created using homemade yoghurt. As mentioned earlier, this was my favourite of all the Hanoi coffee we tried. The tangy blend of frozen yoghurt with their rich roast is an ideal start to the day (despite being coffee number 5 for us.) It’s like breakfast in a glass, and I enjoyed every drop.
Talking of drops, our second coffee was the traditional Vietnamese drip coffee. In terms of flavour, this was the best coffee we sampled in Hanoi but possibly due to the suspense of waiting 20 minutes for it to brew completely. Our kind guide Mai even gifted us with our own Phin filters so we can make our own Vietnamese coffee at home.
We loved the no-frills surroundings of Café Duy Tri and can imagine little has changed in terms of décor over the generations. We sat out on the balcony which would’ve originally had views of the lake, but thanks to construction, only a slice of it can be seen. None the less, it’s one of the best cafes in Hanoi for traditional yet tasty coffee and incredible prices – nothing on the menu was over 40k.
We are so grateful for Backstreet Academy providing us with such hidden gems, and although there is the obvious debate of whether blogs should share these local favourites with the world, we feel they are too good not to share. We urge you to have a wee explore of the Backstreet Academy site and wherever you end up whether it’s Vietnam or Thailand, always spend your hard earned money on ethical tours which benefit locals not profit-hungry corporations.