If there’s one thing to rival Saigon’s food “it’s coffee,” asserts Vietnam Coracle. “Hidden down narrow alleyways, tucked away in forgotten colonial villas, or concealed in enigmatic old apartment buildings, there’s a whole sub-culture of ‘indie’ cafes in this city,” it says in its list of the 15 Best ‘Hidden’ Cafes in Saigon. After all, Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee in the world, explains Travel Nine. “Coffee was first introduced to Vietnam by the French in the 1800s” and is now the country’s second biggest export after rice.
“There are thousands of great cafes spread out over the city,” says The Hungry Suitcase, which lists its 15 favourite Saigon cafes. “From plastic stools on crumbling sidewalks to lavish spaces filled with creative decor and stunning art, the cafe culture in Ho Chi Minh City has it all,” writes The Culture Trip in its list of the city’s top eight coffee spots. And Christinas lists its top 11 cafes in Saigon, recommended “not just for the taste of the coffee but also for the ambiance and environment.”
And here are Sprudge’s selection of some of the best cafes in Saigon:
The Workshop: “Aims to instill in customers an appreciation and respect for their coffees and the people who grow them. The commitment to the shop’s farmers, however, stretches far beyond buying coffee -- the roastery provides improvements to infrastructure like new drying racks and pulping machines in order to elevate the overall quality of Vietnamese coffee production.”
Bosgaurus Coffee Roasters: “The space … houses two separate coffee bars, one on each floor, with the upstairs used as an educational tool where a person can try their hand at dialing in coffee however they like it … the downstairs bar was designed in deference to traditional Vietnamese coffee bars … it’s low and straight to encourage interaction between baristas and customers.”
Drago Specialty Coffee “is actually a branch of a much larger and older commercial coffee roastery called Nam Long, which primarily produces a slightly more refined version of darkly roasted Phin-grade Robusta. Drago acts as an experimental arm of the company, roasting higher-quality coffees in smaller batches and blending Vietnamese and international beans in unusual combinations.”
Saigon Coffee Roastery “Vo Phap founded the company in response to the ubiquity of low-quality Phin coffee in his city … Phap was influenced by the design of Italian espresso bars, and in little less than a year has carved out his own interpretation from a space above what was once an arcade and market.”
Shin Coffee “has two outposts in downtown HCMC, just a five-minute walk from each other … the intent here is to draw on a rapidly expanding base of foreign tourists; Shin wants to make sure it’s the first experience a visitor has with Vietnamese coffee.”