Saigon is an easy city that has been welcoming thousands of immigrants and accepting multi-cultural characters to create a typical highlight in Vietnamese culture. Thus, Saigon coffee has thousands of forms and flavors in its own to satisfy all kinds of taste for the city-dweller class.
In this nice city, no matter what type of Saigon coffee shops you are looking for, you’ll always find something for yourself in some corner to satisfy your liking.
Saigon coffee has become typical culture of Saigonese (kenh14)
If you like to enjoy original coffee in Saigon without any additional ingredients, don’t stop by street Saigon coffee.
You prefer enjoying music to drinking coffee? There are a lot of Saigon coffee shops that only play a unique music style although thousands of years elapsed.
And there are also a lot of Saigon cafes that don’t focus on any certain music style, their owner just play any top favorite online music album for visitors to enjoy.
Cheo Leo cafe - Over half a century age
Coffee in Saigon has been existing over the past 80 years, the way of preparing and enjoying of the locals at the time was much different than nowadays. Before the use of coffee filter as what we see today, a filtering racket used to be the unique tool to purify fine coffee drops.
Mr. Vinh Ngo in his Cheo Leo cafe (kenh14)
In 1938, Mr. Vinh Ngo who was descended from royalty in Hue immigrated in Gia Dinh (former Saigon) to set himself up in business. He chose a deserted and unpopulated land area to set up his home and turned it to a café that was named Cheo Leo by himself. And this has been the most long-time Saigon coffee shop until now where filtering racket is still used.
This is the most long-time Saigon coffee shop using traditional way (kenh14)
Cheo Leo is one of the most well-known little Saigon coffee shops. Its regular customers who used to be students now turn to be in their age of fifty. The former deserted and unpopulated land area now becomes a crowded and densely populated area in Nguyen Thien Thuat Street, District 3.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Suong, the third daughter of Mr. Vinh Ngo, now takes over the oldest cafe in Saigon (kenh14)
By the time, people have learnt the French way to prepare coffee. They used a pot called French press, then add coffee in and apply a small metal filter above, pour boiling water in and put on the lid. The boiling water would run through the filter and penetrate into the coffee powder. Because the water would run very slowly through the filter, so the coffee gets highly concentrated.
Although there is much flooded foreign coffee in Saigon, people are still enamored with the traditional phin coffee (kenh14)
Vietnamese people have learnt this preparation style and begun enjoying coffee with a filter made of aluminum or inox (phin is pronounced like filtre in French and filter in English). Since then, numerous Saigon coffee shops have come out in all streets of Saigon that made coffee become an addictive drink.
Pin coffee is populat nowadays (kenh14)
In 2014, the journalist Nicola Graydon from Telegraph – a famous UK daily newspaper introduced the world of iced milk coffee of this city in his visit to Saigon.
According to what he shared: “a filter is placed above a cup holding ¼ condensed milk below to make a strong kind of coffee. After 15 minutes when the coffee stops dropping, you will stir it steadily and mix with ice. At first, I can’t stand the sweet taste like this. However after 3 days, I yielded to it and get addicted to such “holy” sweet. It is wonderful to feel such simple sweet in your mouth that you will never find it in a traditional latte coffee cup.”
“Hey, take a sitting-on-the-ground cafe?"
After many ups and downs, the invitation “Hey, take a coffee?” has become a signal of the Saigonese when they intend to gather or want to make an appointment or a dating of a couple.
Notably there is one kind of Saigon coffee that never goes out of date. No need a house, without music, without tables and chairs; it is a favorite coffee of many young generations: sitting-on-the-ground café.
Sitting-on-the-ground coffee never goes out of date in Saigon (kenh14)
You don’t need to rent a site and make big investment, just need to prepare your “tools” and go to 30/4 Park, Han Thuyen Street, Alexandre de Rhodes to do business with coffee and beverages.
As an alternative, you just need a motorbike, a big basket to keep all your coffee tools and ingredients such as sugar, milk, etc. inside and don’t forget to bring with a dozen of carton sheets for your customers to sit. That’s all you need to open up a sitting Saigon coffee shops in the downtown.
Drink street coffee is a hobby of Saigonese (kenh14)
It is a hobby of many people in such sitting-on-the-ground café to sing together, to view streams of people and vehicles passing by, to play with the doves here. This is so interesting that make them forget that they are drinking a cup of low-quality coffee which costs only at 10,000 VND.
People find this kind of cafe a pleasant space (kenh14)
But it does not matter at all because what they expect in such sitting café is a pleasant space, not for coffee, for sure not a kind of coffee mixed with corn powder like this.
A café under Italian or British style will never be able to offer you black coffee or iced milk coffee in original Vietnamese style. Instead of using condensed milk and filter, some brand cafés will use fresh milk and prepare coffee in espresso machine. This product is liked by the youth but it means nothing to those who have long-time attachment to original Saigon coffee.
No one remembers when sitting-on-the-ground coffee in Notre Dame Cathedral was born, people just know that this is the place where the elderly, the young and classes of urban residents go to for a few sips of coffee while admiring doves (kenh14)
Music at a café makes people leave forever or come back again
It is true that when you listen to a song from a laptop or in your private room, you will find it much different when listening to the same song in a favorite café. Space, people, scene and smell from roasted coffee bean in the preparation booth will make the song touch your soul and become much more beautiful.
It's different to listen to a song at a cafe (kenh14)
Therefore, it is said that music in a café is the key reason to keep customers come back. Saigonese are easy but are not easy to satisfy. A café playing music that perfectly matches their liking will keep them come back, even together with their friends of same hobby.
10 years ago, numerous wood coffee shops came out and the more wood they were built up, the more impressive they became. These Saigon coffee shops usually play live music in the evening. Only with a good micro, a guitar and Cajon drum it is enough for a band to perform.
Then such trend got out of date, the youth like exciting music and become fed up with sad love music in the 70s, so these Saigon coffee shops gradually lost their customers. Some shop owners transferred their business to another who renovated to make the shops matching the youth’s tastes.
Saigon coffee remains an integral part in daily life (kenh14)
After many ups and downs, Saigon coffee remains an integral part in daily life and a special culture of Saigonese. In such a busy life, people still need a pleasant place to relax, to chat, to talk and just to relieve sorrows in a regular corner with soft love songs to bring them back to the past.