If you are tired of the rushed rhythm of big cities, pay Da Lat a visit. You will feel as if you’re back home. People here have a clear sincerity in their eyes and speak honest words. These personalities spend time in the city’s coffee shops, becoming as much a part of the environment as the coffee itself. In this article, I will point you toward a few typical Vietnamese coffee shops in Da Lat so you may have a taste of what to expect for a truly local experience.
Coffee Shops for The Society
If you compare the maze of coffee shops in Da Lat to a sonata, the theme movement is the true care. You will feel lots of warmth when visiting these cozy local cafés and listening to the interesting stories behind them. People, day after day, work quietly but patiently to bring more smiles to a life filled with lots of hard work. Some specific coffee shops include House of the Youth (Nha Cua Thoi Thanh Xuan) and La Viet Coffee.
House of the Youth (Nha Cua Thoi Thanh Xuan)
As you walk around the sunny streets of Da Lat, turn in at no. 9 Trieu Viet Vuong Street, and go down the small sloping road. In the end, you will find House of the Youth among a garden of flowers.
Those that work in the café dedicate a large part of their youth to the coffee shop’s social mission: to empower the deaf.
When studying in the Philippines, Mr. Luan, the young co-founder of this social enterprise, once witnessed a terrifying storm sweep away the lives of thousands of people. At that moment, a question formed in his young, compassionate heart: Why strive for wealth when you can spend your life supporting those who are a lot less lucky?
Returning to Vietnam with the subsequent urge to do good, Mr. Luan started a project in Da Lat: to create a wonderful job opportunity for the deaf. He also teaches them the beauty in making arts and crafts so they can learn to make an independent living. He teaches them how to make soaps, cakes, tea, and other various handmade items at his shop.
Once, Mr. Luan confided that there are two ways to live this life: either to become a monk or to contribute to your fullest extent, with all your passionate and happy heart. When you visit this modest coffee shop hidden away from the bustle of Da Lat city, you will feel as if you are walking through the door of a real home.
Explore the different rooms, resting in the fresh silence and choose a seat that appeals to you most. After a while, a sister will come with a menu. Don’t talk, just quietly point at the items you want, and she will delicately make it for you. All types of tea are made from in-house grown ingredients, all crackers are home-made, and you will notice that none of the items have any indication of price. Most of your brothers and sisters here cannot hear so the warmth of your eyes and your smile will let them know that you are happy. They won’t collect money from you. When you leave, you will see a box placed modestly next to the window covered with hundreds of stickers. Donate what you wish.
There you can also find a small store with handmade chocolates, candies, soaps, shampoos, essential oils, tea, K’ho coffee, and wooden kitchen tools. Prices are listed. Any money earned here will go towards supporting the cause.
Address: 09 Trieu Viet Vuong Street, Da Lat City.
Website: Nha Cua Thoi Thanh Xuan
La Viet Coffee – To love means to guide and guard
Mr. Quang of La Viet Coffee guides and guards the coffee farmers on their production transformation process. In Da Lat, people once gave up on coffee due to its exhaustingly low returns on investment. Now they have been guided on how to improve their processes by Mr. Quang, and not only are able to make a modest living with coffee but also do so sustainably.
On a quiet street away from the city’s main spot, this space welcomes you with its modern industrial appeal. La Viet Coffee is set up with a glassy café in the front to warm customers up with a steamy cup of coffee. A warehouse with roasters at the back is to process coffee beans. This cafe aims at encouraging the sustainable growing process and to develop the production of specialty coffee beans in Da Lat to an international scale.
La Viet made itself the pioneer in introducing clean growing methods to farmers.
They ensure sustainable economic outputs for people so that farmers only have to care about maintaining a good growing process.
“La Viet” literally means: being Vietnamese. However, you cannot find the traditional ca phe sua da (coffee with milk) on the menu. Just the way you cannot taste the beauty of tea by adding milk, you cannot taste the true flavor of coffee unless you drink it at its most original taste.
At La Viet, you are served only with specialty coffee. All are made from Arabica beans strictly hand picked by this company. This is a marvelous process! Tons and tons of beans are all manually selected by hands like yours and mine! Only solid beans are picked by the hard workers for the next roasting process, where beans are put through yet another selection process. To produce such high-quality beans, farmers are well-trained in an international environment and made to follow certain agricultural standards. This enriches their knowledge, improves their living standard thanks to the higher selling price, and encourages their responsibility to uphold the ecosystem. You can read more about the amazing Da Lat coffee farms here.
I recommend trying a served with the pour over method (and there are different types of pour-overs so don’t be afraid to ask the baristas). Using this method, you must constantly replenish the water surrounding the coffee grounds until the coffee drip reaches your desired amount. This makes for a faster brew than a Vietnamese phin. The flavor is also lighter and more aromatic than extracting from a machine. Hence, you will taste the notes of the Vietnamese specialty coffee to the fullest. First time visiting La Viet? Sit at the coffee bar, where you can have a coffee chat with their knowledgeable and skillful baristas!
Address: 200 Nguyen Cong Tru Street, Da Lat City.
Website: Coffee La Viet
“At The End of Despair Is Beauty”
You may wonder why I relate coffee shops in Da Lat to the above quote. Let me explain. It is here, in Da Lat, that the Vietnamese legendary song composer Trinh Cong Son met his perfect singer – Khanh Ly – a remarkable point before his obsessive music became widely known. This meeting is why the Vietnamese refer to Trinh Cong Son whenever they think of Da Lat. But this isn’t the whole picture. Da Lat seems to represent the soul of Trinh’s music – lonely but full of love for life.
While Da Lat has a unique bustle that staves away boredom, it preserves a leisurely pace that allows people to calmly look inside their heart without the disturbance of a commercial rhythm. This makes coffee shops in Da Lat perfect for finding the time to unwind and discover what makes you happy. If you ever feel distressed, I believe this quote from Trinh Cong Son helps: “We have to go to the end of despair to realize that despair is as beautiful as a flower.”
And in Da Lat, there are authentic Vietnamese coffee shops that allow you to touch the bottom of despair, and discover from that a beauty. Once visiting this city, spend a couple of hours on your own, with a cup of coffee, a pencil, and a notebook. Below are some of my favorite places.
The old man was sitting in a corner by the window when the sunset broke over the landscape. The wrinkles on his dark brown face told much of his age. He was, like many others, sipping the hot coffee in Tung Café, laced with the Blues rhythm humming inside the coffee shop. His corner, next to the big glass window, might be the brightest seat in the shop. His old-style hat, in contrast, shadowed an aged face.
We cannot understand this man’s life by looking at his appearance today. Similarly, we cannot understand Tung without learning about its history. Tung was opened in 1955 and moved to its current location in 1960, being a cornerstone café of Da Lat. Back in the early days, it was where the gentlemen in town gathered together, where military officers couldn’t help passing by whenever they had a business trip to Da Lat. It was also a place for artists to share their voices, where the legendary music composer Trinh Cong Son met Khanh Ly.
After half a decade, Tung shows no changes in its interior. So many historic individuals passed through Tung in the last century, thinking about war and life while relaxing on its leather sofas in the white cigarette smoke hovering like fog. On the wall, a collection of valuable paintings have not moved in 50 years, representing the art taste of our grandfathers’ generation. No one visiting Tung then thought that one day, this coffee of the high-class would become a casual café among many other coffee shops inside the city. Life changes, style changes, Tung reserves its nostalgic sofas with coffee tables placed one next to another, as if to share the warmth in this freezing highland town.
Address: 06 Hoa Binh, Da Lat City
Cung To Chieu
On a city’s remote pine hill, there is a café for those looking for “the end of despair,” and might only be suitable for Vietnamese speakers. From 7:30 PM to 10:30 PM, the door opens to welcome guests seeking a couple of lonely hours. The owner, a 40-year-old lady named Giang, does not necessarily welcome guests with a normal hospitality, but rather, with a set of rules. She might ask people to leave the coffee shop if they behave improperly. But do not be deterred! Behave in a respectful manner like you’re a guest, not a customer, and you will be warmly welcomed.
The menu is simple, with basic drinks such as coffee, wine, peach tea, etc. In contrast, the “codes of behaviors” are not so simple: don’t talk louder than the music, don’t turn your feet to others’ faces, don’t be aggressive, dress comfortably but politely, etc. The price of your drink allows you to listen to a private concert.
Guests come out of curiosity about the owner, or to listen to and sing her pains. Her voice is strong, rough and somehow powerful, born from the land that the café rests upon. She chooses romantic songs from famous composers of the 20th century like Trinh Cong Son, Pham Duy, and Tran Thien Thanh. Her rustic voice combined with the sadness of such songs about love and war create her nickname “the crazy Giang” of Da Lat.
Such a café can only be found in Da Lat. Da Lat welcomes crumbling hearts with calmness, heals wounds with silent generosity, and grows the connection between people with its simplicity.
Address: Le Hong Phong Street, Da Lat City (You should contact them in advance since it’s hard to find)
Website: Cafe Cung To Chieu
The Café of Roses
From sunset till night, Da Lat becomes a romantic haven of music and warm drinks. And yet in the morning, Da Lat refreshes you with its breeze as if to push you into the sun. Put on your sweater and visit the garden of roses on a quiet hill of Yersin Street. Park your motorbike in the yard covered with roses and climbing plants, and walk into the wooden cottage painted in white, decorated with rustic tables and chairs.
There you will find that true love is not about romance. It’s about the strength to overcome pains and grow again into a beautiful flower, humbly enchanting this life with its color and aroma. That is the story behind this café.
When you walk through the door, you will notice a huge lotus artwork placed in the most beautiful position of the room. Created with the Truc Chi method, the lotus artwork lightens the space with its sophisticated beauty. (Truc Chi is a newly developed artwork method founded Hue, in which bamboo paper is the only medium.) “I chose roses as the spirit of my café, but I chose the lotus as the spirit of my soul,” said the owner. “I chose the artwork lotus to represent my faith in the goodness of life, and as my wish to all brothers and friends coming to The Café of Roses.”
Address: 123 Yersin Street, Da Lat City
Website: Tiem Ca Phe Hoa Hong
The Casual Rhythm of Coffee Shops in Da Lat
In addition to typical cafés of Da Lat, there are many more adorable coffee shops that make up the peaceful rhythm of this city.
Tiem Ca Phe Thang 3 (The Cafe of March)
March is the season of coffee flowers blossoming. March is also the season of dreams, when the new year has just started and people are still full of energy for a hopeful year ahead. The Cafe of March embodies all of these sentiments, it’s where you can taste the flavors of Da Lat in an elegant way. Its ambiance recalls the charm of a Paris cafe, reminding you of the old days when Da Lat was still considered a little Paris. The coffee is powerful and, as you observe the way their baristas make your cup, you will feel how much they treasure the coffee bean – a specialty of Da Lat! If this sounds like what you are looking for in town, wait no more, make your way here!
Address: 4 Dong Da street, Da Lat city
Website: Tiem Ca Phe Thang 3
Brew and Breakfast
Sip a cup of Arabica in the morning chill of Da Lat, while waiting for your vegan breakfast! This café is hidden in an alley of Tran Hung Dao Street and run by an English couple who settled down in Da Lat for their love of coffee. A fun Dachshund named Komodo (or Sausage) will welcome you at the door, running around your feet with his great sense of humor during your café time.
It is here that you can book a coffee tour, or simply have a chat with Nick, the owner, about how amazing the coffee farms and farmers are in this small town.
Address: Alley 02 Tran Hung Dao Street, Da Lat City
Website: Brew And Breakfast
An means “peace” in Vietnamese. As a sweet wish from the owner, An Café aims at bringing visitors a refreshing feeling on their vacation. Herbs are grown in small pots on a wooden table. You can grab a rosemary leaf while sipping your steaming cup of tea. With its gorgeous view on the peak of a hill, this place allows you to capture an iconic scene of Da Lat center with its daily movements. On your visit to An, don’t forget to say hi to five old big cherry blossom trees that cover this wooden café!
Address: 6Bis, Ba Thang Hai Street, Da Lat City
Website: An Cafe Da Lat
Milano Café is a widely known franchise brand in Vietnam. They offer nice coffee with tasty servings. In Da Lat, however, this chain is more organized and takes great care with your coffee. It is as if Da Lat encourages a more peaceful and careful lifestyle. Is it because people are less disturbed by the rhythm of a rushed life, hence they pay more attention to the soul of the product? You may have your own explanation. But, if you want a casual taste of the coffee routine in this city, spend a couple minutes here!
Website: Cafe Milano
In 2012, the trend of Italian coffee first started taking hold of Vietnam. Windmills Coffee was established then. People love it for its up-to-date products and its strong operation philosophy, in which human development is at its center. At Windmills, you can find a beautiful combination of a Western café and a team of dynamic Da Lat young people. I need not mention, their coffee will not disappoint you.
They have several addresses in town. I recommend 133 Phan Dinh Phung, Da Lat City.
Website: Windmills Coffee
I live and work and relax in the coffee style of Saigon, with beautiful spaces, gorgeous decoration, and trendy drinks. Da Lat, in contrast, is home to cafés with owners that care more about its soul than its size. This is where the coffee sonata flourishes. If you’re new to Vietnam, see here for a complete guide about See and Do in Da Lat. This city is by all means where I will return time and time again. How about you?
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