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You are here:      Home News Hanoi’s café culture
Hanoi’s café culture

Cafe pho coSince Vietnam opened its doors in the late 1980s, Hanoi has undergone many changes. More and more shops and food-stalls have opened, including hundreds of cafes. It’s easy to find large coffee-shop chains like Trung Nguyen and highlands, which offer luxurious settings, fast food menus and fancy coffee drinks. Nut many Hanoians still prefer the smaller, more traditional cafes

Since nothing beats a good cup of coffee after breakfast, many of Hanoi’s busiest cafes are located in the old quarter, which is also home to a wide variety of food stalls. Favorite cafes include Lam on Nguyen Huu Huan Street, Nhan on Hang Hanh, Giang on Hang Gai, Nuoi on Luong Van Can, Quat on Quan Thanh, Nang on Hang Mam, Nhi on Hang Ga, and Nghia on Duong Thanh.

 

These places feature simple décor and worn wooden tables and chairs. They draw people of all ages and from all walks of life: retirees, teenagers, university students, civil servants, intellectuals, artists, and business people.

Two types of coffee are favored in Hanoi, known as mui and vi. Mui has a strong scent and a slightly bitter taste, and is generally preferred by younger people. Vi is ground and roasted at home and has a faintly bitter aftertaste tat fades to a lingering sweetness on the tongue. This traditional style of coffee is favored by middle-aged drinkers and connoisseurs.

Most of the coffee served in Hanoi is grown around Ban Me Thuat in Vietnam’s Tay Nguyen Central Highlands, where French colonialists first established coffee plantations in the 19th century. This region produces strong-flavored Robusta coffee. Today, Vietnam is one of the world’s biggest exporters of Robusta beans.

Hanoi’s most popular cafes tend to buy raw beans and then roast, grind and mix their own blends. This process requires considerable skill. Even the relatively simple grinding process requires expertise. If the grains are too coarse the coffee will taste flat; if they are too fine the coffee will be bitter and easily burned.

Personal taste plays a big role, with patrons staying fiercely loyal to their favorite blend. As such, Hanoians develop enduring relationships with their local café, its owner, servers and other customers.

While the city is changing fast, Hanoians still take the time to linger over coffee, each cup filled with both sweet and bitter memories.

 

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