a café guide to Hanoi, Vietnam: where to find quirky cafés, prime work spaces, + the very best coffee

Vietnam runs on coffee. And not in a way that many modern cities do, where Instagram-worthy interiors drive business. In Vietnam, coffee is not a trend but rather a ceremonious part of the local lifestyle. I knew it the first time I stepped foot in the country that we were akin that way— a deep love not only for the taste of espresso, but an appreciation for the ritual of coffee. Upon every return to Vietnam, and there have been many, I’ve always found comfort in knowing if I ever get weary of wandering or need to escape the heat, a café is sure to be close by. There’s no shortage of coffee shops to spend your time sipping away an afternoon. I did work {literally and figuratively} in Hanoi. Similarly to Hoi An, I hit up an obscene amount of cafés in the capital city.

PSST… At the end of this post, you’ll find the cafés I’ve listed sorted by my recommendations for brunch spots, work spaces, views points, and specialty drinks. So, you can skip straight down if you already know what you’re looking for!


here are 15 cafés you can’t miss in Hanoi, vietnam


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Cong Caphe

The coconut coffee here is the best I had in Hanoi. It's not just the best coffee, but possibly also the best drink ever. There are a few Cong Caphe branches around Hanoi, since it is a chain. Every location I visited had great wifi and the lovely military-green decor. Unfortunately, as with most chain companies, Cong has a fierce plastic problem on its hands. Even after I asked for no straw, I was given one and upon paying at the register I noticed the rows of lids, take-away cups, and straws. The coconut coffee is the best I’ve had in Hanoi, but it’s a shame the business who has such a wonderful product hasn’t cut out their plastic consumption for the sake of the environment.

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Café nola

If you aren’t looking for Café Nola, you will walk right by it without giving it a second look. It’s like a secret kept quietly in the heart of the city, waiting to be found. The café makes home in a dilapidated French colonial building. Plants fill the space with windows and balconies looking out every which way. Furniture is mismatched and magazines sit on tables that are decades old, but free of dust; a reminder that people love words even if they’re outdated. I’m honestly not sure how the staff even managed to find me in the maze of a building, but they did and happily served me my iced coffee. I sat and read a book from my backpack while a couple a few rooms away held a photoshoot in one of the doorways. Café Nola is truly a place to get lost in space and time…no really….since lighting is limited to the occasional lamp and the random windows and openings of the building, I honestly didn’t know how much time had passes until the twinkly lights turned on and I realized it was dark all around me.

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ORIGINAL EGG COFFEE - HOT + SUPER SWEET

ORIGINAL EGG COFFEE - HOT + SUPER SWEET

CAFÉ DINh

Thanks to my Coffee Appreciation Tour with Backstreet Academy, I found the café owned by the daughter of the inventor of the egg coffee. Many people will tell you it’s this Cafe Giang that is the legitimate egg coffee cafe…because it’s the son of the inventor’s cafe— what year are we living in?! But the rightful eldest child, the daughter, runs the Cafe Dinh. This place is such a hidden gem in all the best ways, but it wasn’t me who found it. Backstreet Academy’s coffee and food superstar, Mai, took me here as our second café of the day. I’m not sure there is another human being on this planet who could keep up with my caffeine habit {sorry, Mom}, but if there is, well, it’s Mai. While the son’s cafe does serve up authentic egg coffees that I’m sure would make his father proud, this little spot, hidden away up narrow staircases and behind a knock-off backpack store, felt like the real Vietnam as I have been able to know it over multiple trips and elongated stays. I was the only foreigner amongst the low tables, plastic stools, sunflower seeds on the floor— Café Dinh is the real deal.

I obviously had the egg coffee, which is 100% not a thing I would ever have ordered at any other moment in time. As someone who doesn’t really even eat egg, the idea of it hot and mixed with my precious espresso…it all just seems a little wrong. IT. WAS. DELICIOUS. Fully delicious. That being said, I’m not one for sweets and it was probably the sweetest/richest coffee I’ve ever consumed, so I don’t think I’ll ever become a regular egg coffee consumer.

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always - the harry potter themed café

100% cheesy, but 100% fun. Always is a Harry Potter-themed café in Hanoi not far from Hoan Kiem Lake that offers a dose of fandom for Potterheads. While I can’t speak to the coffee here, the signature drink, Butter Beer, is better than the Butter Beer I’ve had other places {though still much, much too sweet for my taste}. With robes and wands to pose with for photos and a funky soundtrack that ranges from Vietnamese love ballads to EDM, Always is a slightly ridiculous experience, but it’s one I’m glad I had for the laughs. They also have snacks for sale and books to borrow {yes, the Harry Potter books}. Grab a drink and enjoy a few hours in the world of Harry Potter out of the heat here.

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MAISON DE TET DECOR

Hidden away behind palm leaves near the French Quarter of Hanoi is Maison de Tet Decor, a stunning French colonial building that offers garden seating, balcony tables, and indoor work spaces for those who want to get out of the Hanoi chaos and settle in for a meal or a coffee in their own little haven. The prices are a little high and the portions are a little small, but the food was delicious and the flat white I washed it down with was the best I’ve found in all of Vietnam. On top of the yum-factor, Maison de Tet Decor has a strong social initiative aiming to help end sex trafficking in Vietnam as well as a philosophy that food is fuel for our bodies— two things I can very much get behind.

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LIFTED'S SECOND FLOOR

lifted coffee + brunch

Lifted had one of the best brunches I ate in Hanoi. Grilled cheese sandwiches, cinnamon french toast topped with ice-cream, smoothie bowls, and fresh fruit juices…Lifted has a variety of healthy {and less healthy} menu options so that everyone is sure to find something they like. Lifted is the self-proclaimed “Best Place for your Tinder Dates”, but as someone who has never used or even downloaded the dating app, I can’t actually confirm this. What I can confirm is that their staff are friendly and their balcony seating quickly became one of my favourite spots to people-watch. It may very well be one of the best places in the heart of the city to grab brunch, even if you aren’t on a Tinder date.

BELGIAN WAFFLES + FRESH FRUIT FROM THE BALCONY OF LA PLACE

BELGIAN WAFFLES + FRESH FRUIT FROM THE BALCONY OF LA PLACE

THE EXTERIOR OF LA PLACE

THE EXTERIOR OF LA PLACE

LA PLACE

Most tourists catch views of the Cathedral from the ground, but you can get tourist-free photos from the balcony of La Place and, at the exact same time enjoy waffles served with fresh fruit. Winning all around, if you ask me. There really isn’t too much to say about this place. There’s WiFi, inexpensive menu prices, and a balcony. What more does a person need? It’s simply a fun little place where I liked the friendly staff, the quiet of the café despite its popular setting, and the Belgian waffle. Did I mention the Belgian waffles?

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the Note Coffee

Often known as “The Note Café” by tourists, this Instagram-famous café in Hanoi’s Old Quarter was located just around the corner from one of the places I stayed while based in Hanoi. I went to the café at opening and had the post-it note covered spot all to myself. The Note Coffee is covered from top to bottom {chairs, tables, and ceiling} in post-it notes with inspirational quotes, letters to loved ones, and “I was here” messages. I left a few notes, hoping someone will stumble upon them one day. I had an iced coconut latte and a croissant, and it only set me back about USD $3, which was pretty decent given the size of the latte and the popularity of the place. The WiFi is quite good here, which means it’s not a bad spot for working! The staff here are so friendly I almost found it overwhelming. They came up to me on every visit and checked that everything was okay, asked me my name, and asked me where I was from. I think they were coyly practicing their English, but it never bothered me. If anything, it added to the friendly, light-hearted atmosphere of the coffee shop.

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The Hanoi Social Club

The Hanoi Social Club in the early hours of the morning is exactly what I like about cafés. On my first visit {yeah, I went twice}, I arrived just after opening on a Sunday and had the place practically to myself. The beautiful albeit chipped floor tiles and vintage furniture made it aesthetically right up my alley. I had breakfast here {avocado toast with ricotta} and every calorie was like a little bit of heaven. I also returned one day for their a live music event and was amazed at how the atmosphere changed from day to night. Their chai is outrageously good and their take on avocado toast had me absolutely chock-full. This is simply a cannot miss for anyone looking for the best brunch in the city and one of my absolute favourite atmospheres of all the Hanoi cafés I visited.

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Loading T...

Loading T... is another favourite café of mine in Hanoi. I had heard about it from multiple internet coffee guides, but found it thanks to the Backstreet Academy Coffee Appreciation Tour with my local guide, Mai. The place is easy to walk by without realizing, but once you find it you won’t want to leave and you won’t believe you ever passed it by. Its quiet atmosphere {in yet another beautiful decaying colonial building, of course} paired with its fast internet might tempt you to work from here, but the general vibe of the place seems right for a catch up with mates rather than a catch up on emails. The coffee here is fantastic and so is the music playlist. Mai had me try a traditional Vietnamese coffee with the cafés signature twist— they roast the whole coffee beans in cinnamon, which makes an already tasty Vietnamese coffee something extra special. Honestly, it was divine and I only regret I didn’t make it back for a fourth or fifth cup.

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The rustics coffee shop

I stumbled upon The Rustics Coffee Shop on a walk to the Temple of Literature. The twinkly lights early in the morning caught my attention. When I walked in, I was promptly greeted and then served a massive chocolate cookie milkshake, which nearly sent me into cardiac arrest thanks to the overload of sugar. The little touches like fresh roses at every table and various types of seating over three floors made it an easy place to cozy up for a few hours while I did some work and waited out the heavy rain.

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TRANQUIL BOOKS + Coffee

I originally came here to meet up with Kelsey of Miles of Smiles! We met over tea on a rather rainy day, but the quiet ambiance of Tranquil Books + Coffee provided just the right level of coziness for two internet friends to become friends offline. I returned a second time to work and found I wasn’t alone. In fact, the place was filled with students/worker-bees drinking their teas and coffees while typing away. I preferred the outdoor seating, though it makes avoiding cigarette smoke a bit harder. The inside features giant bookcases filled with different genres of literature in all sorts of languages.

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HANOI HOUSE

Balcony seating? Check. Twinkly lights and low wooden seating on art deco tiled floors? Check. Friendly local staff who serve up coffees, juices, and cocktails? Check. Hanoi House is yet another hidden-in-plain-sight café that sits across the road from the famous Cathedral. If you sit on the balcony, you can watch the happenings of the people below. You have to walk down a narrow alley, up concrete steps, and into a building that looks like it was, in fact, someone’s house. The owner, Huong, is always smiling and so are the rest of his staff. The WiFi here is absolutely dodgy at best and the low stool seating makes it both impractical and uncomfortable for working, but its warm atmosphere and perfected coffee make it ideal for doing what matters- drinking and thinking.

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TÂng trÊt COSMO CAFÉ

After a trip to the Temple of Literature, I had to hunker down to meet some deadlines. I searched for nearby cafés and came across Tâng Trêt Cosmo Café. I quickly read a few reviews, looked at the photos, and decided it was a winner. A few minutes walk landed me in the alley where the multi-floored café sits. Not only is there beautiful indoor and outdoor seating, but it’s plentiful. This café was created with online workers in mind. There is locker storage for travelers with large bags. There are an abundance of charging outlets. The red velvet cake and their lemon-ginger tea both earn my seal of approval. Food, beverages, and space to work with storage in case you need a break to visit some of the main tourist attractions?! Seems too good to be true, but I promise it’s not.

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Cà PHÊ DUY TRI

Cà Phê Duy Tri was another fabulous find of Mai and the final stop on my Backstreet Academy coffee tour. This café is one of the first in the city of Hanoi. Established in 1936, this narrow coffee house felt like a poetic testament to the history of Vietnamese coffee culture. Only tiniest modern touches exist in Cà Phê Duy Tri— twinkly lights. Wooden stools and chairs sit in pairs on either side of tables where you can sit your beverage and sunflower seed bowls. It takes 20 minutes for the slow drip coffee to brew, slowly dripping over condensed milk, but the locals don’t mind. Their appreciation of coffee means they know the good stuff takes time. While there are no bells and whistles here, that’s what made it one of best couple of coffee hours I spent in Hanoi. Mai and I talked about fashion, social media, and relationships all while we waited for our coffee to drop into our cups. And there lied the beauty of it— two modern women talking about modern things over the age-old tradition of coffee.


NEED HELP NAVIGATING? Don’t worry! All the cafés in this post are pinned on the map below!



CAFÉS BY CATEGORY

where to munch on BRUNCh-

  • MAISON DE TET DECOR

  • LIFTED COFFEE + BRUNCH

  • THE HANOI SOCIAL CLUB

where to WORk-

  • THE NOTE COFFEE

  • THE HANOI SOCIAL CLUB

  • MAISON DE TET DECOR

  • TANG TRET COSMO CAFÉ

  • THE RUSTICS COFFEE SHOP

where to try SPECIALTY DRINKs-

  • ALWAYS - Butter Beer

  • LOADING T… - Cinnamon roasted coffee {iced or hot}

  • CAFÉ DINH - Hot egg coffee

  • CONG CAPHE - Coconut coffee

where to go for VIEW-

  • HANOI HOUSE - of the Cathedral

  • LA PLACE - of the Cathedral

  • THE NOTE COFFEE - of Hoan Kiem Lake


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a cafe guide to hanoi, vietnam: where to find the best coffee, work spaces, and brunch
a café guide to Hanoi, Vietnam

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