Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hanoi’s coffee culture – like no other

VietNamNet Bridge – There is nowhere like Hanoi for coffee connoisseurs to enjoy a wide variety of cafes.

Not only do Hanoians love drinking coffee but there is a special kind of coffee culture here where it is done at a cornucopia of different and decorative cafes. Hanoians drink a lot of the dark, caffeinated beverage and love sipping their stronger blends outside in front of a small shop with some sweet milk and a spoonful of sugar. Every morning, on hot days in the summer and cold and dull days in the winter, you can see people all over the city with a cup of coffee in one hand and a newspaper in the other.

The ancient capital city of Hue has cafes in green orchards. The resort city of Da Lat features romantic, quiet cafes. Saigon has both street and luxury cafes. What about Hanoi?

It is difficult to draw a complete picture of Hanoi’s cafes because the city has hundreds, all with different styles. In the past, Hanoians only knew Lam Café or Nhan Café, and to enjoy a real cup of coffee, aficionados had to go to the old quarter in the morning. This is no longer the case. Nowadays, Hanoians drink coffee everywhere and all the time.

Cafes are as prevalent as their customers, ranging from chains like Trung Nguyen and Highlands to small cafes in alleys, gardens and even on sidewalks. Hanoians seem to favor quiet cafes to relax after a tense working day; hundreds can be seen along lakes like Truc Bach, Hoan Kiem, Giang Vo, Ho Dac Di, etc.

Cafes in Hanoi can be categorized in terms of style and quality but most are popular. For many Hanoians, the most important factor of a café is not its luxuriousness but the quality of the product.

Old people love cafes which have been around a long time, located on old streets or inside deep alleys. Office workers like cafes with romantic and quiet styles like Pho Co café. Young people love the noisy and busied atmosphere of modern and luxury or pavement cafes.

Hanoians also choose their café based on their feelings that day. When they are happy, they go to boisterous ones like Windows or Bao. When they are sad, they go to quiet ones, located deep in alleys. Those who need a luxurious atmosphere enjoy European style cafes like Paris Dehli, Bobby Chinn, Ciao or Lan Vien. The wealthy go to cafes at five-star hotels like Sofitel Plaza or the Daewoo to see Hanoi’s wide expanse from the panoramic view on the roof. Sipping coffee while watching the buzz and business of life outside is enjoyable and Serenade café’s on Ngo Quyen Street blends are just right.

It is difficult to choose a suitable café and one should experience dozens before seeking the one best acquainted with him or herself.

Pavement cafes are a strangely popular spot. Plastic chairs are all it takes. Hanoians all know the famous pavement cafes on Nguyen Du, Trieu Viet Vuong, Hang Bac and around Truc Bach Lake. Just one good cup of coffee on a plastic table is enough for coffee drinkers there. These cafes are always crowded, regardless of the weather.

However, street cafes like the La Terrasse du Metropole on Ngo Quyen and Le Phung Hieu are totally different. These are European-style pavement cafes that are very expensive.

There are cafes where customers can drink coffee both inside and out like Highlands Café, 84 Nguyen Du or Huy Café; of these, Highlands Café is of the highest regard.

Hanoi’s coffee culture calls on coffee addicts from every corner of the globe!

No comments: