Text by Marco Bouwer
Ho Chi Minh City does not take a step back for any city when it comes to coffee culture. It is home to thousands of independent coffee shops, which is a treat if you’re used to a city overran by the big international coffee brands. There’s adventure in discovering unique little coffee spots hidden in plain sight, or looking for one tucked away in a narrow alleyway.
District 7, with its growing number of shiny high-rises, shopping malls, and high-end apartment buildings, has its fair share of privately owned coffee shops. One of Ho Chi Minh City’s youngest districts, it constitutes the largest urban area in the city (36 square km). At its heart is Phú Mỹ Hưng New City, which boasts an abundance of green space, walkable sidewalks, and quiet, clean neighborhood streets. While the neighborhood can’t compete with the gastronomical experiences of some other districts in the city, there’s a number of eateries and fun cafes to make it worth a visit.
Oi Vietnam has highlighted a few brew-tastic coffee shops that’ll appeal to different tastes. Whether you’re looking to savor an expertly-brewed cup of high-quality coffee, find a comfortable spot to enjoy a good book, work without distractions, or charming ambiance in which to meet a friend, there’s a coffee shop for your taste.
Ollin is an ideal spot for a client or team meeting, or to finish that presentation before the deadline. A popular spot among HCMC’s young up-and-coming creative professionals and entrepreneurs, it offers the most beautiful, minimalist coffee space/work environment anywhere in District 7. They also pride themselves on their brewing skills, and you won’t do much better if you’re looking for a high quality coffee experience.
Located on the noisy Nguyen Thi Thap Road, the coffee shop is set slightly back from the sidewalk. The building itself is a stunning old three-story house that’s been beautifully renovated. The main cafe area is a spacious, industrial-looking atrium with clean, white backdrops that’s been added to the front of the structure. The generous use of glass creates a spacious feel that, even during busy hours, never looks full, and this abundance of natural light is conducive to a calming, productive work environment. The old house itself offers a number of rooms and private areas, while smokers will enjoy the outdoor seating area.
Ollin’s coffee quality is high, and they make use of serious-looking high-end roasting equipment. Their menu seems basic, but there’s a fresh take on each item listed, and it’s well-presented. Try their coconut coffee or the freshly grounded Ethiopian brew. The gadget-looking cups and glass tubes that the beverages are served in, are instagram-worthy.
Staff is friendly and helpful, and service is good, unusual in this city. If Ollin Cafe would extend their pastry selection and upgrade the current quality, they’d get full marks.
There’s outdoor seating if you’re a smoker, free guarded scooter parking, and it’s a pet-friendly environment. Open from 7am – 11pm.
Where: 300 Nguyen Thi Thap, Tan Quy Ward, District 7
Tel: +84 70 6331 305
Web: https://www.facebook.com/ollincafeSG/ (District 2 location)
The Fig Cafe
If you’re looking for a quiet haven away from the maddening crowd, whether to put in a solid shift of work, or to meet with a friend, look no further than The Fig Cafe. This beautiful spot has very good coffee, and wonderful ambience.
Hidden away deep in the heart of the Phú Mỹ Hưng neighborhood, the two story cafe is a popular lunch spot for businessman and women from the area. Given the presence of a high number of small businesses that have opted to escape the Downtown craziness, dozens of stylish little business-like coffee shops have opened to cater to the professionals in the area. The Fig Cafe sets the benchmark.
A zen-like calm is created by the lush greenery in the front garden, which includes a serene khoi fish pond and giant Buddha statue. Inside the potted plants and beautiful decor matches the zen-ness, the furniture is functional, and ample natural light helps create a relaxing ambience. It’s mix of ethnic Thai, IndoChinese, modern decor and contemporary furniture is beautiful.
The coffee menu offers the usual choices of coffee and espresso, and while the quality is so-so, the prices are decent. In addition, The Fig Cafe offers a range of alcoholic beverages, tasty light lunch options, and unique Vietnamese-Western fusion desserts.
It’s comfortable here, the sound of water trickling in the background is soothing, and given the solid selection of food and beverage choices, you can literally “hide out” here all day.
Address: 7a Nguyễn Bính, Tân Phong, District 7
Tel: +84 28 2211 3544
Web: http://thefigcafe.net/ // www.instagram.com/thefigcafevn/
Located on the rowdy Nguyen Thi Thap road, Farmer’s Garden makes our list for pure atmosphere and unique decor. The coffee is good too, and the presentation is artistically done. In short, it’s a great place to meet friends or take a visitor.
The founders obviously aim to promote healthy organic food and you pass through a well-stocked organic grocery store (1st and 2nd floor) to get to the must-visit cafe on the 3rd floor. Buy a few items for dinner on the way up, and then embrace the visual experience upon entering.
You’ll feel like you’re entering a working green house, complete with a glass roof. The whole space is beautifully decorated as a lush garden, with small trees, shrubs, green plants, and flowers. It’s an Instagram haven, and you half expect a red and blue macaw to appear squawking on one of the tree branches! Every corner of the interior lends itself to fun instagrammable photo opportunities. Thus, make sure to arrive before or after lunchtime, or you’ll have to wait for the small crowds of youth to finish their lavish “photoshoots”.
The cafe offers a good selection of the usual coffees, teas, and juices, and a well-curated list of eating options. Do try their Macha Latte, it’s delicious. While the lovely decorated environment is the overwhelming factor, kudos also to the tasteful presentation of both food and drink. A lot of thought went into the details, and the visual aspects of the cafe, such as the drinks holders and the table decorations. The downside is the appalling service, although during our last visit, it did seem as if staff were being trained.
There’s free, guarded scooter parking at the entrance.
Address: 486 Nguyen Thi Thap, Tan Quy Ward, District 7
Tel: +84 1900 636715
Eden Coffee House
If you’re looking for good cup of premium coffee, a hearty Western breakfast and a comfortable place to spend the morning with friends, Eden Coffee House should rank high on your list. Easily our favorite eatery in District 7, it offers quality coffee, good value for money, generous portions, friendly service, a peaceful setting, and food of the mouth-watering variety.
This unassuming gem, hidden in a quiet, treelined side street in Phu My Hung’s Little Korea, is fairly quiet during the week, but packed with expats and locals on weekends. It’s indicative of the popularity that great food and good service holds that patrons are eager to stay and dine here.
A solid selection of premium coffees is offered, and coffee connoisseurs should note that they use fresh illy coffee beans. If you find yourself there after work hours, do try the Espresso Martini. Their food menu covers an extensive range of Western, Vietnamese, and Thai dishes, with vegetarian options. The selection of genuine comfort food, such as their home-made chili and seasoned meatballs, is some of the best you’ll find anywhere in the city.
The breakfast selection is huge, including crepes, bowls of flavorful goodness, and all the other usual brunch suspects. This includes their popular poached eggs with mashed avocado, breakfast stack and egg BLT, and an all-day breakfast menu. Any establishment that generously includes avocado in so many of their breakfast dishes must be worthwhile in our book. Tread carefully or you’ll get hooked!
Head over early or after peak hours on a weekend morning if you want a seat. Closed on Tuesdays, Eden’s hours are 8am to 9pm during the week. Outdoor seating is available next to a small, shaded garden with a koi pond. Although not indicated, they have a comfortable after-hour rooftop bar overlooking the neighborhood. Do we need to say more.
Address: 23 Nội khu Hưng Phước 1, Tân Phong
Tel: +84 90 395 49 30
Images Courtesy of the Establishments