When exploring the wonders of Saigon, there’s no need to go to staple coffee shops like Starbucks just to ensure you’re getting your sip of high-quality coffee. In Ho Chi Minh City, you’d get hints of French cultivation techniques. That’s because coffee was first introduced to the country by the French in 1857.
A Little Background on Vietnamese Coffee
The beginnings of coffee production in the country were successful. The land was primed for crop development and the climate was ideal for growing. However, coffee’s stardom was put to a halt when the Vietnam War happened.
But, just like most agriculture in the country, the coffee industry made a comeback. The Vietnamese government led the movement to collect land for coffee bean development. They knew this would be a substantial contributor to their economy. Though the lands were distributed to resettled ethnic groups in 1986, the government took advantage of its new capitalist policies and supported privately owned enterprises. So, by the mid-1990s, coffee production tripled because of the more streamlined manufacturing process.
Thanks to Vietnam’s high-yielding crops, production has never been more productive. About 97 percent of the country’s coffee comes from Robusta, a coffee known for its low acidity and extreme bitterness. The Robusta is more commonly used on instant coffees, espressos, and cappuccinos.
At present, Vietnam is considered one of the “giants” in the coffee production business, BBC reports. So, when you’re visiting one of the brightest cities in the country, make sure to visit the best coffee shops in town. Here’s a list of the best coffee shops in Saigon where you can work or relax.
For a taste of Ho Chi Minh’s refined lifestyle, visit one of its most beloved coffee shops, the L’Usine Cafe. The cafe owners were not Vietnam locals, but they fell in love with the complexity of Saigon. They wanted to build a brand that’s rooted in its authenticity. Thus, the birth of L’Usine.
The cafe is an immersive space that paints a mirage of the old Saigon and its contemporary HCMC counterpart. Its various locations are filled with pieces of furniture from local artisans. At the same time, the shop touches on international modernist designs, too, like the “Breuer” chairs they have on the fourth floor. This icon is a one-piece seamless-molded metal frame with rattan embellishments designed by Hungarian-born architect Marcel Breuer.
The cafe serves an all-day menu and their bar is open from 5 p.m. If this is your first time visiting L’Usine, it’s recommended to try their purest Vietnamese Black Coffee before diving into other sweetened options. The beans are gathered locally and are brewed according to French-Vietnamese traditions.
This is a one-of-a-kind coffee franchise that draws you to probe Ho Chi Minh’s culture further. To keep these memories with you, visit their shop for local-made memorabilia. You can visit any of their locations in the city.
- 151 Đồng Khởi, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 70000
- 19 Le Thanh Ton, D.1, HCMC
- 70B Le Loi, D.1, HCMC
- 24 Thao Dien, D.2, HCMC
- 24 Thao Dien, D.2, HCMC (Grab N Go)
- Crescent Mall GF-56, 101 Ton Dat Tien, D.7, HCMC (Nguyen Van Linh and Nguyen Khac Vien intersection)
For artisanal pour-over coffee, visit this gem in the middle of Ngô Đức Kế Street. You may not spot the location at first because the sign is not as stand out as you may expect it to be, but once you see that old, wooden sign, you know you’re in the right place.
The structure is an old colonial building. Coming in, you’ll see a row of motorbikes parked in the basement. You’re welcomed by these centennial stairs that lead up to the four stories of the building. You’ll have to ascend to the top floor to reach the Workshop, but the flight of stairs are worth it.
The Workshop’s interiors are the polar opposite of the apartment building’s ambiance. It has retro and industrial accents and a high, translucent ceiling that brightens up the entire space.
The first noticeable thing you’ll see is the massive counter with a variety of breakers, filters, coffee brewers and kettles. They specialize in the western techniques of coffee-making. You would love it here if you’re looking for pour-over or black coffee. For a better experience, most recommend asking your pour-over to be made from a siphon filter, a Chemex, instead of the French press.
Lastly, you can enjoy hours-long conversations with your travel companion since they also serve a whole day menu, mostly made up of Western cuisine.
Address: 27 Ngô Đức Kế, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh
Villa Royale Downtown Antiques & Tea Room
For an elegant afternoon, visit the Villa Royale Downtown Antiques & Tea Room. Whether you’re looking for a quieter place to work or missing that quality tea experience, this is the best place to go.
As the name implies, the interiors of Villa Royale Downtown is filled with “all things yesteryear.” With pieces from the French colonial era and other decors from all over Asia, you can find a sense of tranquility as you enter the place. It almost feels like you’re transported to a Parisian parlor in the middle of the city.
Villa Royale Downtown offers an all-day menu. They have a variety of baguette sandwiches, Greek salads, and European mains. For dessert, spoil yourself with various offerings of cakes, pies, and other sweets.
And if you’re here for a hot brew, the Villa Royale Downtown’s coffee is classified as one of the best in the city. Unlike the purely artisanal offerings on other shops, they have a latte, cappuccino, iced coffee, flat white, and hot chocolate.
Lastly, nothing beats Villa Royale’s Afternoon High Tea. Get the taste of the British classic and feel like a proper nobleman as you get served High Tea “the way it was meant to be.” For magical brews, impeccable high tea, and elegant experiences, visit the Villa Royale Downtown on your next trip.
Address: 25 Hồ Tùng Mậu, Phường Nguyễn Thái Bình, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh
The Vintage Emporium
Maybe you want to have brunch to go with your coffee. For a cosmopolitan lifestyle in Saigon, visit The Vintage Emporium. The place is not only known for its good coffee but also the amazing French-Vietnam fusion. From the decor to the food, the restaurant brings you the best of both cultures.
If you’re staying in one of the hotels in central Ho Chi Minh, then traveling here will be a breeze. Ride a taxi, and you’ll be at the Vintage Emporium in five minutes.
This is the type of place you want to spend hours in. The menu leans more on the healthy side. If you’re ordering for breakfast, they have large servings of fruits to be paired with your favorite morning staples. They also have a wide variety of freshly pressed juices and healthy/detox smoothies.
The Vintage Emporium probably has the most interesting coffee drink selection. They have traditional black brew coffee, Vietnamese Black Coffee, and Vietnamese Milk Coffee. And then you go to the Latte list where you’ll find unique offerings like the Gold Latte (ginger, turmeric, cinnamon), Pink Latte (beetroot, ginger), and the Blue Latte (almond, butterfly pea).
Address: 95 Đường Nguyễn Văn Thủ, Đa Kao, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh
Representing the thriving millennial lifestyle in Saigon, M2C Cafe brings modernity to the traditional Vietnamese culture. Though the city has undergone drastic changes in the last couple of decades, coffee has been an “indispensable element” in the Saigonese culture.
The space speaks true to their values. They have a lot of sitting areas with a modern lux feel to it. At the same time, the structure still evokes the notion of being in one of the city’s homes. The overall atmosphere is highly inviting, and the place is constantly filled with wonderful aromas of plate servings and coffee.
Another remarkable aspect of the M2C Cafe is their all-day menu. Despite other shops offering mostly European dishes, the shop showcases a purely Vietnamese menu. For those who want to explore the exciting tastes of Saigonese cuisine, this is one of the best places to bring you the full experience from appetizer to last bite of dessert. Try out the Bun Tom and their Bahn Cakes for the most recommended dishes.
The coffee selection is unquestionably the star of the show. They have organic Vietnamese coffee as Black Coffee Phin or Milk Coffee. You can also be more daring with your choices and pick one of their Special M2C Coffees; these coffees feature a unique concoction of brewed coffee, coconut and more.
Address: 44B Lý Tự Trọng, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 70100
Id Cafe is a place where you can unwind and enjoy great conversations. Located in one of the busiest streets in Ho Chi Minh, this cafe presents a lively alternative to traditional cafes.
The cafe has two levels filled with retro punk decor. Inside, there’s a warm, intimate mood. The place also transforms when it’s raining. The lighting has a big impact on the milieu. Since they chose warm-colored lights, it gives the menu a sense of privacy, especially during nighttime.
Id Cafe’s creative coffee menu is one of its strong points. You can try out a version with blueberry and cream, or you can stick to the classics with a Vietnamese twist. Partner your drink with one of their delectable desserts, and you have the perfect companion for your low-key hours.
Address: 61B Tú Xương, Phường 7, Quận 3, Hồ Chí Minh
Arguably the best of the best, Talk Barista brings Saigon’s coffee game to an entirely new level. This modest establishment has been designated as the winner for The Best Coffee Shop in Ho Chi Minh by TripAdvisor. Unlike its more refined counterparts, Talk Barista is a smaller shop.
Its iconic blue door signals customers for the unexpected twist the cafe has to offer. The space is small but quiet. If you’re looking for a peaceful space in the midst of the busy Saigon, this is one of the finest places to go. The staff (who is mostly the shop owner and barista alone) is friendly, and this makes the place feel more like home.
If you want, you can ask for a quick barista training and the crew will introduce you to pour-over coffee. But don’t worry, you don’t really have to prepare your own drink, that’s what the “boss” or the barista is for.
Waiting for your coffee may take some time, but it’s worth it. As most previous customers have claimed, coffee magic is happening here. Yes, the black brew in its purest form could be the drink that’ll make your day, but if you’re visiting Talk Barista, check out their bestsellers, too! You can try the cold brew or the iced flat white.
Address: 81 Trương Định, Phường 6, Quận 3, Hồ Chí Minh 700000
When in Saigon, there’s no need to stick to generic coffee franchises. You can get a fuller experience in the distinct and highly competitive coffee culture in the city.
Whether you’re looking for a place to meet up with your friends and chat or a quiet corner to relax and focus, you can visit any of the coffee shops in the list to get the best ambiance and the tastiest cup in town.