Vietnam probably has the most mature coffee culture in all of South East Asia, when we were in Hanoi earlier this year, we definitely took advantage of visiting some of the more quaint cafes in this capital city.
Hanoi House Cafe, Hanoi
Our second cafe stop was probably named by someone who’s not overly imaginative, calling it Hanoi House. The first cafe was Gardenista.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Hanoi
Well, it is located in Hanoi, but more specifically, right across from the beautiful St. Joseph’s Cathedral, which was constructed way back in 1886 as one of the first structures built by the French colonial government. The church was closed down after Viet Minh took over North Vietnam, and wasn’t reopened until closed down until Christmas Eve of 1990, which… is already almost 30 years ago… (how time flies!)
It is open for public and for mass, and we were lucky to get in and have a peek on a Sunday morning.
Vietnamese Coffee, thick and aromatic
The cafe itself is situated on the first floor of a shop lot which also happened to have some permanent inhabitants. Interior itself smells of antiquity, while also being rather cozy. If you’re lucky, grab a seat by the balcony and you’ll have a great not-quite bird-eye’s view of this small segment of the city.
a lovely place to unwind
We had the standard hot coffee with condensed milk (32,000 vnd, equal to RM 5.70 at time of writing), and like with many other places in Hanoi, they’re thick, aromatic, and has an effect of lifting your eyelids immediately. I love it.
If you want to live a little, they serve alcohol too, but I thought it was perhaps inappropriate with mom around, and the fact that it was 11 in the morning.
When in Hanoi, one has to of course, go to the many many cafes dotted around the city that embraces the coffee culture unlike any other South East Asian countries. While the traditional drip coffee is still king around here, there are increasingly more and more fancy modern cafes as the economic status of the country progresses.
Gardenista, French Quarter Hanoi
While walking around the Hoan Kiem Lake Park, a place anyone would surely visit while at Hanoi, we took a rest as this beautiful cafe that is Gardenista for a spot of coffee and a bit of rest after a long walk around the lake.
black coffee, extra milk coffee, coconut ice cream coffee
The cafe itself is almost half green house & half cafe, with plenty of plants both on the floor, the counter, and even hanging from the ceiling. The interior is separated into three distinct areas, with another outdoor section to boot. I think this place can easily house over a hundred caffeinated souls.
ambiance is as important as taste when it comes to cafe
We tried their standard long black, extra milk coffee that’s got a bit more milk than your usual latte, and my favorite – the coconut ice cream coffee. These were pretty good coffee, but I do think that the ambiance is what anyone is really here for. Would love to revisit and spend an afternoon with a good book (nay.. phone and data plan).
You may have remembered that earlier in the year I wrote about Nespresso and their CNY promotion. Well, ever since then I was utilising the little but rather capable Nespresso machine quite often for my coffee fix.
The machine makes proper espresso and long black, with beautiful crema and taste that’s not unlike a legit cafe, and I can’t get enough of it. Coffee has some magical ability to transport us to different moments in life, but this round I’ll be sharing about how it can take us back in time as well!
Nespresso Limited Edition Coffee Houses
Inspired by the first coffee houses in Venice and Istanbul, Nespresso recently introduced two limited edition flavours, each celebrating 2 distinct moments in history where coffee culture has since thrived.
The first one is Venice, which was apparently the entry port of coffee into Western Europe. The second on is Istanbul, the meeting point between Asia and Europe. Back then, people would visit coffee houses to match wits, challenge theories, listen to music, even discuss politics—we do that with our phones these days, even at cafes which is rather ironic, but I digress.
Nespresso Caffè Venezia
Caffè Venezia, reminiscent of 18th-century Venice, has wild and floral notes combined with a roasted character. I decided to pair it with the sweet and similarly fruity apple crumble and thought it complements the coffee rather well from the way it brings out the roasted character even more. The aroma is simply captivating.
food that I can associate with a hot cup of Nespresso Caffè Venezia
Since Italian cuisine just goes naturally with a cup of coffee, I also paired Caffè Venezia with some good Italian bread, a simple salad with beef bacon, and some rich buffalo mozzarella cheese. Caffè Venezia fits perfectly with these dishes, bringing one back in time to the flavour and spirit of those Venetian coffee houses in that golden era.
Nespresso Café Istanbul
Café Istanbul has an exotic character, carrying intense roasted and black pepper spicy notes. This was a great contrast to Turkish delight which I chose to balance out the strong body with a nutty sweetness. The complex tasting profile makes for such a delightful treat to the palate that their shared origin is just a happy coincident at this point.
Nespresso Caffè Venezia & Cafe Istanbul
If you want a taste of coffee history, it’s time to head to the Nespresso boutique in The Gardens Mall or their website to try these Limited Edition capsules. If you haven’t got a machine, maybe it’s time to get yourself one!
My first Nespresso experience was actually at my car mechanic’s office, with the owner raving nonstop about this little machine and how capable and simple it is to brew up a cup of proper coffee in seconds.
He then proceeded to show me an assortment of coffee capsules and asked me to choose one. At the time, I’ve only heard about Ethiopian and Indonesian coffee, and had zero clue on tasting notes and the nuances of each origin, so I basically just picked one at random.
I can’t remember which coffee I ended up with, but I remember it had a thick foam and was very aromatic.
Well, as it turns out, the foam is “crema“, and forms naturally during the coffee-brewing process, if the temperature and pressure is just right. And that is exactly what this little machine is capable of doing so, since it’s equipped with a 19-bar pressure pump; the ideal power for making espresso.
For coffee drinkers, which is most of us, this little gadget makes for an essential item in any kitchen or pantry.
This Chinese New Year, having a Nespresso machine to serve proper coffee for family members both near and far is something that I look forward to. This also perfect for my family’s switch to mainly sugar-free drinks over the years.
You can now get an Essenza Mini with RM88 off, plus another RM88 coffee credit that can go towards more capsules.
The most compact machine doesn’t take up much real estate on your kitchen counter, and yet packs a punch in every perfect cup of coffee with perfect crema.
Indulge in milk coffee with the Nespresso Aeroccino
Of course, we also got to sample Nespresso coffee of different origins in the form of espresso, lungo, and even milk coffee.
The Nespresso boutique at The Gardens Mall also has various merchandise on display. There’s even the nifty little Nespresso Aeroccino that allows you to make a great cup of cappuccino or latte right at home or the office!
My traveling buddy while at Macao is someone whose diet consists of a heavy dosage of avocado, so after a great many days of subjecting herself to the local diet which has none of this “butter fruit” (as locals call it), we embarked in a mission to find one.
Which is how I ended up at Cafe TOFF.
TOFF is situated just a stone’s throw away from Lou Lim Ioc Garden, a public garden with a beautiful lotus lake that’s worthy of visit. If you’re there and have visited enough churches, why not?
The restaurant, like many other in Macau, is pretty diminutive in size, capable of serving perhaps two dozen customers snugly at any one time. Lucky for us, it was quite empty at 1pm or so on a Monday.
cozy interior inside TOFF
The menu though, is rather comprehensive (see below). They have a decent selection of espresso based coffee from latte, long black, to mocha, and even Marnier mocha, which comes with alcohol. Each cup costs between 28 to 50 MOP.
There’s also a selection of tea if that’s what you fancy.
breakfasts with coffee
As for food, there’s a dozen different types of salad and sandwiches, some with interesting ingredients like parma ham, squid and shrimp, Okinawa pork slices, or even shrimps and avocado. They’re priced between 50 to 68 MOP.
For our brunch, we went with the Big Breakfast (118 MOP) and Toff Veggie Breakfast (108 MOP), each comes with a black coffee or latte, and a selection of different ingredients to choose from.
TOFF Veggie Breakfast & TOFF All Day Breakfast
Overall the food were pretty competent, and coffee did tastes like any good coffee would. It is a Western breakfast that would make it pretty much anywhere, except when it’s in Macau, you do pay Macau prices. Cute place though, certainly would not mind visiting again