Shin Coffee is a small, local roaster/coffee shop chain in the Vietnamese capital, Ho Chi Minh City, which I discovered on my visit there this time last year, it having been recommended to me by Vietnam Coffee Republic. This is one of two branches a few blocks apart in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City, where you’ll also find the likes of The Workshop Coffee. Unlike the branch on Nguyễn Thiệp, which is purely a coffee shop, this is the original, dating from 2015, and doubles as the roastery, with a pair of roasters behind a glass wall at the back.
Shin Coffee seems to specialise in long, thin spaces and this is no different. Although not quite as elegant as Nguyễn Thiệp, it’s pretty close and has a very similar look, feel and design, as well as offering the same coffee choices and menu. Shin only roasts Arabica beans, with a range of Vietnamese blends and a few single-origins from both Vietnam and around the world. There’s a traditional espresso-based menu (using a blend of Ethiopian and Vietnamese coffee), along with decaf, plus there’s filter through V60, Syphon, Aeropress and Cafetiere, as well as traditional Vietnamese filter coffee.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
The Shin Coffee roastery is on the busy Hồ Huấn Nghiệp, one of several radial streets running off the roundabout by the river. Spread over two storeys, it presents a very narrow street front, which is pretty much all glass. Inside, however, it goes a long way back.
You enter via a glass door on the right-hand side. Ahead of you, on the left, the counter dominates the front of the store, although there is a C-shaped arrangement of padded benches between counter and window. You can also sit at the counter on one of ten bar chairs, which is ideal for barista-watching.
If you make your way towards the end of the counter, past multiple retail shelves on the right-hand wall, you’ll reach a row of four two-person tables on the right, while opposite them on the left is an eight-person communal table which takes up where the counter leaves off. Behind it is a set of box shelves with more coffee making paraphernalia, although this is only for display.
Beyond this, a set of stairs on the left heads up before doubling back on itself, while beyond the stairs, a glass wall separates coffee shop from roastery, a neat featuring meaning that you can watch the roasters (there are two of them, along with a pair of sample roasters) in action.
Although the downstairs is lovely, the upstairs is awesome, the seating running from the stairs to the windows at the front. A pair of sofas opposite a line of comfy chairs comes first, situated above the communal table downstairs. Next there is a C-shaped bar, lined with bar-chairs, which runs around the edge of a light-well above the counter, providing more barista-watching opportunities. If you want to watch coffee being made, this is the place to go, particularly at the back, where you get a great view of the espresso machine at the other end of the counter. Finally there is a four-person window-bar right at the front, overlooking the street.
The look and feel is slightly darker than in the branch on Nguyễn Thiệp, with a black-painted ceiling and a concrete floor downstairs. There’s plenty of exposed brick though, as well as the customary map on the wall behind the counter and another coffee story on the stairwell. There is, of course, full table service, with a glass water provided when you arrive, which is constantly topped up. Naturally, you pay when you leave, although you need to go to the till at the far end of the counter.
I arrived late in the day and had the last pain au chocolate, which was excellent. I paired this, at the barista’s recommendation, with a V60 using a Catimor varietal from Shin Coffee’s own farm in Vietnam, which was pretty neat. My coffee was very good, but it took a disappointing 20 minutes to arrive, surprising since it didn’t seem that busy. A very drinkable coffee, it was smooth and well-balanced, served in an outstandingly pretty cup.
|18 HO HUAN NGHIEP • QUAN 1 • HO CHÍ MINH CITY • VIETNAM|
|www.facebook.com/ShinCoffeeVN||+84 98 902 43 62|
|Monday||07:30 – 23:00||Roaster||Shin Coffee (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 23:00||Seating||Tables, Sofas, Counter (dowstairs), Window Bar, Bar, Sofas, Armchairs (upstairs)|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 23:00||Food||Cakes|
|Thursday||07:30 – 23:00||Service||Table|
|Friday||07:30 – 23:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||07:30 – 23:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||07:30 – 23:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||Local||Visits||11th June 2017|
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