Long gone are the days when coffee options in Hanoi’s charmingly quaint Old Quarter were limited to drip coffee, brown coffee, and maybe an occasional egg coffee when feeling fancy.
Today, Hanoi’s historic quarter is well served by a string of envelope-pushing cafes keeping the morning crowd well-caffeinated with a mirriad of innovative coffee-based concoctions. These third-wave coffee shops roast some of the country’s best beans, supporting the fledgling arabica market, while refining the classically fierce robusta-based recipes. Imported coffees from around the world also feature feeding the Vietnamese desire for new profiles and inspiration.
In Hanoi, a coffee shop crawl around the Old Quarter is a well-respected pastime. Before you start mapping out your own trail, here’s our list of bean-happy establishments that stand out for subtlety and creativity.
Both the Quan Thanh and the Tran Quoc Toan locations are charming and feature the crowd-pleasing “Sapa” drink. Its lightly sweet taste and creamy texture have won over many fans, while those used to a more pronounced coffee taste should consider “Saigon”. Made with blended ice cream poured over a shot of arabica, this is another popular choice at CAFE YEN.
184 Quan Thanh Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
11A Tran Quoc Toan Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
21/42 Giang Van Minh Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
All Day Coffee
The newly opened Hang Bun location is dreamy and romantic. The chain is well-known for foam coffee drinks boasting carefully balanced flavors and rich textures. The “All Day Egg Coffee” with its thick mousse-like texture and subtle egg aroma is definitely the star of the menu. Their pour-over is another best-seller.
37 Quang Trung Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
55 Hang Bun Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Reng Reng Café
Reng Reng is the perfect winter’s day hideyhole down an alley on the fringe of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Opt for either “Mr. Na” or “Mrs. Na” – two equally outstanding full fat creme coffee drinks boasting an impossibly smooth texture with just a touch of sweetness. Bring your own bottle if you are dropping in for a takeaway and try their brown coffee that is bold and a little tangy.
Location: 17/12B Ly Nam De Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
At prime locations in Hanoi’s historic center where Oriberry Coffee has planted its flag, space comes at a premium and seating options are limited, so consider ordering a take-away and finding a picturesque spot nearby instead. Walk over to St.Joseph’s Cathedral for a spot of people-watching while enjoying an excellent cuppa of Oriberry’s arabica-robusta mix.
36 Au Trieu Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
21 Xuan Dieu Street, Tay Ho District, Hanoi
26/52 To Ngoc Van Street, Tay Ho District, Hanoi
1 Pham Su Manh Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Kafeville’s espresso is made with Colombian medium-dark roast resulting in a full-bodied drink that is mildly acidic with a sweet, rich flavor. The popular “Alpenliebe” is quite similar to All Day Coffee’s full fat creme coffee in texture, albeit less sweet. Influenced by the north Italian style, chocolatey “Marocchino” is not dissimilar to a classic cappuccino with a layer of thick hot cocoa and brûlée sugar on top.
Location: 23 Yen Ninh Street, Ba Dinh District, Ha Noi
Blackbird Coffee’s best-selling drinks are the original Vietnamese drip coffee and espresso. They also serve Eggspresso, which has a thicker egg cream foam than a traditional egg coffee and a dense layer of coffee at the bottom. Their aromatic cappuccino made with a standard ratio of coffee and frothed milk is also impressive.
5 Chan Cam Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
63B Lan Ong Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Tranquil Books & Coffee
With so many books lining the walls, you’d be excused for thinking you’ve stepped into a library. But it’s beans, not books that rule the roost at Tranquil Coffee. In addition to popular Western-style coffee, they serve a solid variety of Vietnamese ones. “Coconut Caramel” is made with 80% arabica, 20% robusta and a dash of coconut milk, whereas “Spiced Chai Latte” is quite strong and more than a bit sweet. Tranquil Coffee roasts cinnamon sticks together with their coffee beans infusing the beverages and the air with festive aromas.
Location: 5 Nguyen Quang Bich Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
A three-minute walk from Dong Xuan market, Cafe Nhi is one of the oldest in the quartet of “Nhan – Nhi – Di – Giang” – the top four Old Quarter cafes from the 45s and 50s. Coffee is served in a pot and is poured into small cups tea ceremony-style. Their iced brown coffee is a perfect option for those who prefer their coffee sweetened with condensed milk.
Location: 2 Hang Ca Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
This legendary cafe is credited with inventing Hanoi’s famous egg coffee and its popularity keeps the place buzzing. The original egg coffee recipe is a base of rich Vietnamese coffee topped with a mixture of frothy egg yolk and condensed milk. The perfect balance of bitter and sweet, zesty and creamy, egg coffee is Cafe Giang’s pride and glory. To keep up with the times and changing consumer tastes, they now also serve ice egg coffee, egg cocoa, egg green tea, egg green beans and rum egg coffee.
Location: 39 Nguyen Huu Huan Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Opposite Cafe Giang, Cafe Lam serves a similar line-up of coffee-based beverages. Lam coffee beans are carefully selected and roasted without artificial flavorings and additives. Staunch traditionalists, they pride themselves on having kept the taste and the recipe unchanged for over 60 years. Treat your friends or family to some of Hanoi’s most authentic coffee at this spacious and inviting venue.
Location: 60 Nguyen Huu Huan Street, District, Hanoi.
Atelier Coffee Roaster
Atelier does all their roasting in-house and focuses on Vietnamese robustas and arabicas, as well as shining a light on other microroasters from Vietnam and around the world. Their “Cloudy” drink, a combination of milk, cream and doppio, is quite similar to Kafeville’s “Alpenliebe”. The gimmicky-named “Black Sugar Latte” is a solid white coffee with a silky and creamy texture and a tinge of sweetness.
Location: 65A Ton That Thiep Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Tucked away in a 100-meter-long alleyway, Loading T is literally a hidden gem. With no signage, it’s all too easy to miss. But with a little perseverance, you’re in for a treat as their egg coffee is famously good. For something less eggy, try cinnamon roasted coffee or refreshing teas, fruity smoothies and mouth-watering cakes.
Location: 2nd Floor, 8 Chan Cam Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Feature image from Tranquil Books & Coffee.